Day Boats Today: No.108

A modern restoration:

Phobox Ltd. of Braunston, have an enviable fleet of historic narrowboats, it includes:

  • ‘James Loader’ 1946 Leonard Leigh tug
  • ‘Betelgeuse’ 1935 Small Woolwich butty
  • ‘Renfrew’ 1936 Big Northwich motor

and of particular interest to me, in terms of renovating the Eileen, is No 108 a BCN iron day boat from 1883.

However, No 108 is an example of what I might call  rigorous restoration rather than the evolving renovation we’re attempting. No 108 has been recreated as an archetypal day boat, as can be seen from the accompanying photographs, and has returned to being a fully realised, working day boat.

The following infromation was drawn from the Phobox website:

No 108 was formerly the 56ft long Joe, a BW workboat restored to a high standard by Eva and Piers Bull, owners of the Leonard Leigh Ltd. tug Helen. They had done much work on the hull and fitted a replacement cabin with bed and stove. They had also found some of its history, with the BCN Society providing copies of gauging documents which dated the boat to 1883.

Joe was towed to Lyons Boatyard, on the Northern Stratford Canal, and was lifted out in preparation for stretching back to its original length of 71ft 6in. The boat had been given a new bottom and footings in BWB days, and had been shortened by removing three 5ft iron plates and their knees from each side. Joe was carefully cut and rivets unpicked along the plate joints, and the two halves moved apart and accurately aligned on angle girders.
New steel plates of the correct thickness were welded onto the bottom and footings, and hot rivetted to match the original upper hull plates. Six new knees were fabricated out of split tube and flat bar and bent in a ready made forge to match the originals. A new wooden rudder was made based on research gained in the ellum shed at the Black Country Living Museum‘s boatyard.

Help, advice and materials were obtained from Ian Kemp of Stourbridge, including the rivetting equipment and the large size rubbing strake. Lyons Boatyard provided space, labour and welding expertise to carry out the work.

To prepare her for the rigours of short haul sand and stone traffic, the hold gunnels were reinforced with steel angle and the large fore end locker retained to counter the bouyancy of the extended cabin. The hold has to provide a clear, square, smooth sided space for grabbing out the material.

Joe had become No 108, its BCN number, a full length joey boat, and was launched in the traditional manner in December 2007. Then we bow hauled her to Lapworth, to pick up the timber needed to line her out for the traffic at Denham.

fleet bcn 108




launch bcn 108

loaded BCN No. 108

rudder bcn 108

It’s from photographs such as these that I’m clarifying  how the Eileen will eventually look. I think she’s a beauty – pure, purposeful, functional, right.

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