BCN Gauging Plates 229
In a recent post I mentioned that I had recently acquired a pair of BCN Gauging Plates at auction, and after some repainting they will be applied to the bulkhead of Montgomery aka The Jam Butty.
In an ideal world such plates would remain with their original boat but sadly most of these boats are long gone and only a few artifacts remain as mementos for canal enthusiasts. I suppose I could refurbish them, screw then to a nice bit of wood and hang them on the wall at home, but that's not what I have in mind. If they can't adorn the original boat (which was made of wood and will have rotted away decades ago) why not let a new craft display this bit of inland waterways history? I wouldn't want anyone to be misled but given the Jam Butty's mongrel pedigree it seems better to let others see them in the context of at least a section of a BCN iron day boat.
The auction particulars provided some provenance stating that plates 229 were allocated to John Tool's boat Albert and that was about as far as my insight went. But never underestimate the power of the web and in particular the Canal World Discussion Forum. No sooner had I mentioned that I now own plates 229 than I was sent a photo of the BCN Gauging Register from 9th April 1922.
This register entry shows that the wooden craft had a day cabin, was 71' 6" long and 7' 1/2" wide with a hold 58' 4" long and 6' to 6' 3/4" wide and was registered to John Toole of Bilston. This is a neat twist because the general view is that the bows and hold of The Jam Butty were built for the Hickman fleet with operated also out of the Springvale works at Bilston.
The register offers a fascinating insight into the theoretical maximum load weight of a BCN wooden butty, sitting seven inches deep unladen and 46 inches when loaded quite literally to the gunnels.
The register shows how weights were added in one ton increments and recording the steady reduction in the dry inches remaining. Its certainly true that they tested the craft to its limit and when an eye watering 40 tons was dropped into the hold there was just one third of an inch of free-board remaining. Not that a boat would ever travel with such a load partly for fear of sinking but also how far do you think a boat with a draft of just a tad under four feet would get?
Hopefully the plates will adorn The Jam Butty in time for its first outing of the 2015 trading season at St Richards Festival in May.
My thanks to Speedwheel for the images and the rest of the guys for interpreting the handwriting.