... 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.

Sunday 17 January 2010

Boat spotting

I think that for someone lacking a y-chromosome, I have quite a male brain. This manifests itself not only in a greater ability to process rusty rivets than fluffy kittens, but also an insatiable need to categorise, catalogue and collect. I understand train spotters.

When we were kids, my sister used to go in for those sticker albums - she had one based on the Disney film The Rescuers. I was quite fascinated by this, although of course being three and a half years older I was above such childish things. I had never got into those things where you have to buy stuff, mainly because of a terror I had - dreadful in one so young - of being ripped off (which I lay entirely at the door of Richard Stilgoe), and also because just being able to go out and buy the things - even though you also had to swap them of course - seemed somehow like cheating. So I just carried on cataloguing my mug collection and setting up a prototype ID database for my dolls and teddies.

The concept however has never left me and I have now found an outlet. For years now I have been watching old boats and now I consciously register when I see one I've not seen before. It won't be long before I have to start making special trips to track down those boats that I know to exist but which have so far eluded me. I have become a boat spotter.

To keep the task manageable and within the limits of my fiercest obsession, I shall in the first instance limit myself to spotting large Grand Union motor boats. If we take this to mean the 'Town Class' of large Woolwiches and Northwiches, a quite cope-able with 86 were built, most if not all of which are still in existence in some form.

So, I have set up a separate blog on which to catalogue my spottings and stick my stickers. I have created a post for each boat, and I will stick in a picture of each as I collect it. The unbreakable rule is that it must have been seen and photographed by me. I already have quite a collection, of course, scattered around in various envelopes and hard drives and CDs - it will be interesting to discover, as I trawl methodically through them (!) just how many I've already spotted. When I spot a new one or post a new batch I'll post about it here too.

So far I've trawled through all the photos on this computer - that is those taken since April last year. So there is already something there to look at. Then I shall work my way through the CDs of photos from 2007 and 2008, then the prints from earlier that will need scanning...


  1. excellent - and what I've long held the internet to be ideal for; a kind of online data store anyone can add too (which is presumably, the plan, via comments?)

  2. Hi Sarah, I think your idea of "Town Class Motor" spotting will appeal to quite a few of us anoraks. We have had fun owning 2 Town Class Motors for the last few years, neither of which has had a name painted on them, so we have driven all the other spotters mad, with so many people shouting "Which one is it?", or "it that .......?" . We have recently had Shirley painted & sign written so we have made her a bit easier for you to spot.

    Cheers, Brian

  3. Oooh, Shirley - that's one I've never (knowingly) seen. Where would be a good place to look? And what's the other one?

  4. Aha! It's Alton - of course! I was just looking at your blog earlier today. And I know where to look now too - but it'll be a while before I get there.