Saturday, 9 October 2010

Taylors wooden boats

Taylors of Chester

I have a particular love for the "Gentlemans" boats built by JH Taylor and Sons during the 1950's, 60's and 70's.

This affection stemmed from a family holiday aboard Lindy Helen, a mahogany on oak cruiser built along the lines of a broads cruiser. The trip was back in the late 1960's but even today I remember sleeping with my nose up against the brass rivets. The boat was built as part of a pair for Ted Smout of Llangollen and he operated her within his hireboat fleet for a number of years before she passed into private hands. A rather lovely account of him exists on the internet, written by Giles Morris who worked for him at Wheaton Aston

 Lindy Helen - mid 1960's

I published a post on Lindy Helen as part of my "pre Wand'ring Bark" series with photos lifted from our family album and there I thought it would stop.
But its funny how fate intervenes and, via the Blog, the current owner got in touch, introducing me to the Taylors website which provides a comprehensive list of the whole fleet. He also posted the family photos which provided Dr D and Matilda with a bit of a laugh.

Gazelle - Aug 2010

There it rested for a few months, till I was coming down the Thames. As I was exiting  Boveney Lock in came Gazelle - a near carbon copy of Lindy Helen. My curiosity got the better of me and I dashed back up to the lock and grabbed some quick photos in front of a rather bemused crew. I explained my connection and suddenly all became clear. They knew all about me and had heard about my interest in their class of boat.

 Gazelle - Boveney Lock

Whilst there wasn't a lot of time they showed me into the main cabin, pulling off the cushions to reveal the rivets. Wow, it all came flooding back to me - 40 years sliding by in an instant.

That should have been it, but then I went to the National Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port and what should I  find? Amaryllis, another from the same class, all beautifully restored , up on blocks and there for all to see and admire. Seeing Amaryllis made the trip to the boat museum worthwhile on its own.

The class are very distinctive and the owners group are always on the look out for other boats. If you see any on your travels let them know.

Lindy Helen currently lives in London so one of these days I will try and arrange to have a look at her. Gazelle is very active and can be seen all over the place, lovingly maintained by the Millward  family.

I see that Barbara Joan (sister to Lindy Helen) has just  been restored and I saw it's sale particulars on the net a while ago with a price tag just shy of £20k. Not bad for something which would have been burned up 20 years ago.

If I were to be tempted away from a steel narrowboat I would go for an old Taylor's boat like a shot.

1 comment:

Boo Long said...

Great to see Gazelle surviving. My mum and dad's friends (coincidentally called Taylor) owned it in the 1970s and it was my first canal experience, aged about 7 or 8 (1974).
Just ended up searching for Taylor's boats after recognising the style but never expected to find the actual boat!