Nurser Feed Tin?

Firstly, you should note the use of the question mark in the title to this post.

A few years ago now we were lucky enough to obtain a small Buckby can from a local antique shop. Around the middle of the can was written Forget-Me-Not and the style was unmistakably Braunston. We have tried over the years to seek details of the use for the can, the painter and what boat he painted it for. This has included talking to contacts at the The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne and photographs of the can appearing in the Waterways World, Narrow Boat and Canal Boat magazines. Nothing definite has come from this. However, Tony Lewery has a similar can given to him by Angela Rolt and his view was that our small can is probably from the Nurser yard and from around 1911. We are therefore alert to similar items when we see them.

Small Nurser Buckby Can

Crick Boat Show is not the normal place to source such items, they are usually snapped up quickly, so when we arrived on the last day of this year's show it was much to our surprise that we discovered that one of the antique stalls had a horse feed tin with decoration that looked very similar to our small can. The tin appeared to us to say "Frank Nurser". The seller couldn't vouch for its history but he did proffer the interesting statement "a guy with a beard came and looked at it for some time and said he thought it was Frank Nurser". Not exactly a statement of authenticity, particularly since men with beards are two a penny at boat shows (!), but it got us hooked. The tin is certainly old, although not as old as the small can, and because the painting style looked so interesting we struck a deal with the dealer.

Our Nurser(?) Feed Tin
(Note strap fittings)

Detail showing some recent damage

Detail showing the base
(Note rivets)

Detail of daisies

Detail of roses

So what exactly is a feed tin?  They were containers suspended by straps from the harness of the horse so it could eat on the move. Ours is made from tinplate (as the name suggests) and it measures 9.5 inches high by 13.5 inches diameter (maximum).

Horse with feed tin at the bottom of Bingley Five-Rise 
(from CRT web site)
I have looked at the excellent Nurser web site that has been recently set up to celebrate the family operating the Braunston dockyard from 1876 to 1941. The site gives wonderful detail of the family and employees and includes some good images of typical Nurser decoration. Looking at the cans shown on the site has reinforced my view that our feed tin must have Nurser connections.

Please drop us an email if you have any views.