... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Thursday 3 May 2012

A Star is reborn

Many years ago (the photographs now sadly buried under the bed of time) when we first started hanging around this yard with Warrior, there was a boat on the bank. It wasn't a whole boat, just the front end of a hull, with a recognisably Northwich stem post. Later it didn't even have a bottom either, but sat balanced on its bony knees, awaiting its turn to be restored to a new life, in a third reincarnation.

Enceladus was a 'Small Northwich' iron composite boat built by Yarwoods for the GUCCCo in 1935.  Its second incarnation was as a British Waterways hire boat, called Water Valiant.   It carried on being Valiant into private ownership, with a wooden cabin, and was clearly in pretty bad shape by the time it made its way onto the bank here.

But now it is a beautifully proportioned 50' tug, with a completely new stern end, tug foredeck and steel cabin, that I have been privileged to watch the development of over the past few months. The time and trouble that goes into something like this has to be seen to be believed.

And today, at last, Enceladus' new bottom felt the water for the first time. As I write, her new owners are shifting tons of ballast aboard, preparing for the journey to be fitted out at Brinklow.

Complete with rather lovely fenders, made by Brian on Alton.

(Why are my photos displaying so small now? Bloody blogger)


  1. In the composition page, click on the photo and you can choose small, medium, or large, left, right, or centre. Medium is the default, but it looks as though you need large. On my blog, the large photos look better on the left. I do all the text first, put the photos in, then select the size.

    On the post topic, what's your view on whether this is still a historic boat, given than three quarters of it are new? Either way, the work looks fantastic, as do the fenders.

  2. I like the idea of it being a reincarnation.

    The fore end and the hull sides (which represent more than half the original length) are original so it passes HNBC's test.

    I wouldn't call it a restoration as such, because it's not recreating the boat as it was at a previous period, although the hull has been restored. But I would say it is still a historic boat, given a new lease of life, in a style sympathetic to its original identity.

  3. Photos embiggened! Thank you Adam.

  4. Yes I think it probably has more integrity because it's been made into something new, rather than trying to immitate what it was before. It's not pretending to be something it's not.

    On blogger, I switched to the new version months ago, soon after it came out. Maybe it's because I did it by choice rather than being forced, but I actually prefer it. In the time I could switch between the two, the new one seemed more user-friendly, with many of the old irritations solved. Everything takes a bit of getting used to, though.

    And I see that your comments are in a different time zone (at least, I'm pretty sure I didn't comment on this post six hours before you posted it). It seems this is a known bug with embedded comments, which appeared when they started allowing replies. So far, though, they've chosen not to fix it.

  5. I didn't immediately remember it that way, but now Adam has mentioned it, realise we must have made that Blogger switch many months back too. I actually do far less mucking about to get the format right (well "right-ish!") than in the old version, and now vastly prefer it. I like being able to caption the photos too, which I think was not previously available.

    As to "Enceladus", as Sarah is well aware, we seriously looked into owning her, before withdrawing and going instead for "Sickle". I do agree that she has turned into a fine boat, but I now realise could probably not have fully satisfied me as an "historic boat". Although when properly ballasted enough of "Enceladus" remains that most of what is above water will look authentic, there really is an awful lot of brand new boat in there, (I do realise some would see this as a strong advantage!).

    Still fascinating to see the renaissance, and I look forward to seeing the completed boat fully painted, in all her glory. There were not a lot of the "Small Northwich" type made, (only 12 pairs), and they really are a smashing shape, in my view, and one on which the tug conversion, with a decent length tug deck, sits very well,

  6. But isn't an awful lot of Sickle brand new, below the waterline :-)

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Deleted because it posted twice - not cos I said something I regretted! Going to take some more photos of Enceladus later.

  9. There is actually a very great deal more "Sickle" still in "Sickle" than there can ever be "Enceladus" in "Enceladus".

    Despite 50 plus years of spending most of her time just dumped canal-side, she does have a remarkably good set of knees, and, (perhaps even more surprisingly!), the round chines all seem to be completely original.

    What is new is the baseplate, the counter, and large bits of the rear sides.

    I'm not in any way knocking what has happened with "Enceladus" - if you start with a historic boat where large amounts of it already ceased to exist some years ago, or have gone beyond the point of no return, then clearly you will end up with a boat much of which is brand new.

    Some might consider that starting off with most of the underwater parts in brand new steel is a considerable improvement on relying on large parts of it being 76 years old, held together by rivets of the same age!

    I do think that "Enceladus" is the best result you can get out of the starting point - it will be a truly super looking boat, if a sympathetic paint job gets applied.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Apparently they are going for two blues to the original extent of the cabin and red oxide for the rest.

  11. Yes, I think that is a good choice, particularly as the bit that replicates the original cabin has "rivets", whereas the "extension" omits them. Would work for me!