Small "Buckby" Cans

A few years ago we spotted a small decorated can in a local antique shop and purchased it for £35. It was obviously old and not a souvenir. We asked at the shop about its history but all we found out was that it was sold to them by a local family.

Forget-Me-Not Can

We set about discovering what we could about it. I dropped a letter to Hugh McKnight who was writing a column in the Canal Boat magazine and although he had seen similar cans, he sent us a photograph of one, he couldn't really help. However, a discussion with Tony Lewery at a Braunston boat show helped a lot. He had a similar but better painted can with good provenance (as they say on the Antiques Roadshow). Tony's can was once owned by Angela Rolt. She had given it to Tony and had supplied it with a "business" card with her then address in France.

Tony was able to state that our can was probably painted around 1911 by somebody in Nurser's yard. The boat name on the can is Forget-Me-Not. There were several boats of that name so I haven't been able to tie it down.

Forget-Me-Not Can Close-Up

My reasons for this post are firstly wondering if anybody has any clues on our can's history and secondly wondering exactly what were these small cans were used for - milk or perhaps as a tea pot? I remember in the steam engine drivers used to "mash" tea in somewhat similar cans but they didn't have access to stoves.

The can is treasured and has pride of place onboard Albert.

Shake-Down Trip to Cosgrove

After a very long time holed up in the marina we finally managed to take Albert out onto the cut to celebrate summer time, do some spring-cleaning and sort out any problems. We like winter boating but this year, with the ice and more recently our preoccupation with our youngest daughter's wedding, we just haven't had the chance. Even a planned local trip with friends in February got cancelled by ice.

Albery had a sticking shower tap but their didn't appear to be any significant adverse effects on the plumbing from the intense cold of the winter. This week I will have to give Albert a good wash and polish - she looks a bit gruby.

In honour of the great event (that is getting a trip on Albert!) I am posting a photograph of Cosgrove. Note the new three-bell swinger on the pigeon box.

Solomon's Bridge Cosgrove

Blog Milestone Again

Since installing the site counter in November 2006 we have had 35,000 hits. Not a large number by some standards but interest in the blog continues and lots of it is international. Hit 35,000 was from California and the entry page was my post about the English canals article in a 1940 National Geographical magazine.

Thanks for your interest!

Fenland Waterways by Alan & Michael Roulstone

We are fans of the Fenland waterways since our exploration in 2006. So when I noticed copies of this on eBay I decided to purchase one. Luckily I went for a very cheap (just over £3.00) "reading" copy. This ex-library copy is hardbacked and slightly dog-eared although it is a first edition dating from 1974.

It is a curious and not very good book. There is some discussion in early chapters about the definition of Fenlands; presumably in order to broaden the book's appeal it includes the rivers Fossdyke, Witham and Welland. However, that is the least of its problems. The book is probably more akin to Rolt's Thames from Source to Mouth than a Nicholson guide. However, the plates from Alan Roulstone do not have the quality of the Rolt book and the text by Michael Roulstone is very clunky and stilted. Quite frankly, the whole style of the book might have just been acceptable forty years earlier but when it was published it must have appeared very old-fashioned and difficult to read. Below is a quotation that illustrates the writing style.

"Before passing to a consideration of the cathedral itself — which is really the only reason for visiting Peterborough today, unless one is travelling by train and is required to bide awhile at the station in order to achieve a connection— it cannot be left unsaid that what must at one time have been a lovely old city has been irreversibly disfigured in recent years by the decision taken by what used to be known as the London County Council to use it as a 'London overspill' town. Large complexes were accordingly planned, negotiated, constructed; new housing estates were established."

I don't suppose they had good sales in Peterborough!!

Jesus Green Lock, River Cam, Cambridge

The Old Haycock, River Nene, Wansford

The Cutter, River Cam, Ely

The colour illustrations could perhaps be described as charming and naive. They were intended to be the book's selling point since it is described as a pictorial anthology. Some of them, such as those above, I like. However, most I just found uninspiring.

Race Against Time by David Bolton

After reading Aickman's The River Run's Uphill, I bought a copy of David Bolton's Race Against Time which is much more interesting and gives a full account of the early days of the IWA, the battle to save the canals, and civil wars within the IWA. It is a good read and provides much more of an insight into those difficult times than Aickman's book. Published in 1990, good second hand copies of this hardback are still relatively easy to find at a reasonable price.

Norfolk Houseboats

We were away from home last week spending some time with friends at Heacham on the North Norfolk coast. It's the only place in Norfolk where you can see the setting sun over the sea - the coast faces almost due west. The weather was dull but the location always impresses. The wide views across The Wash and the long sandy beaches are great. We managed to visit the RSPB reserve at Titchwell March on a cold windswept day and for the first time I saw snow buntings.

So what of boating?

We stayed at a beachhouse at South Beach in the dunes. Alongside the more conventional beachhouses were some really unusual constructions. Behind the beach is the Heacham River which fails to reach the sea. Across its mouth is a dam which is a part of coastal defences. However, at one time boats must have come up the river towards the village because right alongside the river are some former boats that have been hauled-up and converted into quirky beachhouses.


Princess Mary

Perhaps the most memorable is Wild Duck which has a web site and its let for holidays. According to their site " The Wild Duck was built in 1878 at West Lynn for George Cresswell. She has been dry beached on South Beach, Heacham since 1923." It would be interesting to learn the history of some of the other boats.

Wild Duck

The Prow of Unity

Stern of Unity - reminiscent of 19th century sailing ships?