Wooden boats at Lowtown

On a visit to Lowtown, where the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal leaves the Main Line, I photographed several wooden boats in various states of repair. Because there are quite a few of them, I have given them a page to themselves. My main page about wooden boats on Irish inland waterways is here and some newer photos (2010–2012) here; you may also be interested in my page about traditional boats and replicas.

I should say that I am not certain that all of these boats have wooden hulls: in some cases it was difficult to be sure. And most of the boats did not have names that I could see; I would welcome assistance with identifying any of those shown here or with adding to the amount of information shown. Please leave a Comment at the bottom of the page if you can help.

Update 1 November 2010

Thanks to Harry Arnold (see Comment below) for identifying two boats as Dolphin Cruisers.

Update 22 September 2009

Some boats identified, thanks to Craig Slawson and Clive Richardson. See Craig’s archive of Norfolk Broads boats and the Vintage Wooden Boat Association website.

Lowtown

Lowtown is one of the places where dreams go to die. And just occasionally, a dream is born and a boat comes back to life.

Under Waterways Ireland’s eccentric charging system, an annual permit, costing €126, covers a boat for a full year of bank mooring and lock passages on the Grand Canal. The bye-laws provide that the boat must not be moored in the same place for more than five days, but that rule has been ignored by both boaters and authorities. So, instead of paying a large amount of money for a marina berth on the Shannon or at sea, you can pay €126 and keep your boat on the canal. The only problem is that, as there are no marinas, except for a short stretch at Lowtown run by Lowtown Marine, there is no security.

However, the presence of other boats, and especially of live-aboard boaters, does create some degree of security, and accordingly boats congregate at a few locations. One of them is Shannon Harbour, where the canal provides cheap moorings beside the Shannon; the other main areas are all near Dublin: Hazelhatch and Sallins, which are served by rail to Dublin, and Lowtown, near Robertstown, where Lowtown Marine’s cameras cover the, er, waterfront.

The canal does reduce the cost to consumers of entering the boating market, and the availability of cheap — often old, occasionally wooden — boats does the same. But the costs of maintaining a boat are not necessarily as low as its purchase price: indeed, for an older boat, they can easily exceed the price, especially if major repairs are needed. And in some cases, owners appear to abandon their boats, leaving them to sink.

Sunken wooden boats at Lowtown

Sunken open boat

Sunken open boat

Possibly a plywood cruiser

Possibly a plywood cruiser

Another possibly plywood cruiser

A Dolphin Cruiser (see Harry Arnold’s Comment below)

Conversions

When I wur a lad, there seemed to be several hundred books by Michael Verney about how to convert a boat into a cruiser, starting with the acquisition of a ship’s lifeboat. And when we started boating, about thirty years ago, there were still several converted lifeboats around on the Shannon. There are rather fewer of them nowadays, but there are still some on the canal at Lowtown, although they may not have started as lifeboats. The building up of the sides is what makes me think that the boats in this section are conversions.

Friendship

Friendship

White-hulled conversion

White-hulled conversion

The owner tells me that this is a Yorkshire coble, which he is converting

The owner tells me that this is a Yorkshire coble, which he is converting

Boats afloat

This next boat has a name plate, but I wasn’t able to read it. Can anyone help?

Blue boat afloat

Blue boat afloat

Green boat afloat

Green boat afloat

Rosapenna at Lowtown

Rosapenna at Lowtown. Craig Slawson reckons this is an Osborne Martlet from around 1950

Lisa-Marie at Lowtown

Lisa-Marie at Lowtown: a Dolphin Cruiser (see Harry Arnold’s Comment below)

Elegant small boat with proper ventilators

Elegant small boat with proper ventilators

I’m not sure whether the next boat is wooden, but some of the planes suggest that it is.

Trincomalee

Trincomalee

This next one may interest uk.rec.sheds more than uk.rec.waterways. It is unpowered but the owners do have a boat with an engine. I gather that, when it was young, this boat had a caravan mounted on the hull, which must have looked a bit silly, unlike the present arrangement.

Lazy Annie 1

Lazy Annie 1

Lazy Annie 2

Lazy Annie 2

Boats ashore

There are several boats in the boatyard, being worked on.

Several wooden boats being worked on

Several wooden boats being worked on

This might be a GRP hull with a wooden transom, but I’m not sure.

Wooden transom, but is the hull GRP?

Wooden transom, but is the hull GRP?

The next one might have a plywood hull.

Possibly a plywood hull

Possibly a plywood hull

The next boat has a sliding canopy. Here are two photos.

Wooden cruiser with sliding canopy (bow view)

Wooden cruiser with sliding canopy (bow view): a Richardson’s Swiftway or Broadway, according to Craig Slawson and Clive Richardson

Wooden cruiser with sliding canopy (stern view)

The Richardson’s Swiftway or Broadway with sliding canopy (stern view)

The evidence of work in progress is all around.

Detritus

Detritus

Here are three views of an elegant old lady, Marguerite (H/T Mark Maguire: see Comments below).

Elegant old lady 1

Marguerite 1

Elegant old lady 2

Marguerite 2

Elegant old lady 3

Marguerite 3

This cruiser was being worked on in the shed. Sean O’Reilly (see Comments below) identifies it as Seatrout.

Cruiser in the shed (bows on)

Cruiser in the shed (bows on)

Cruiser in the shed (from astern)

Cruiser in the shed (from astern)

Cruiser in the shed (twin-screw)

Cruiser in the shed (twin-screw)

Here is another cruiser, this one with an open wheelhouse.

Cruiser with new open-backed wheelhouse

Cruiser with new open-backed wheelhouse

I couldn’t see much of this blue boat.

Blue cruiser ashore

Blue cruiser ashore

The next four photos show an ex-Joy Line (Ted Barrett) hire cruiser, one of those he brought in from the Norfolk Broads and perhaps a sister ship to Hein Goodewind and Delight on the main page. I am told that this boat appeared in a film called Widow’s Peak.

Ex-Joy Line hire cruiser 1

Ex-Joy Line hire cruiser 1

Ex-Joy Line hire cruiser 2

Ex-Joy Line hire cruiser 2

Ex-Joy Line hire cruiser 3

Ex-Joy Line hire cruiser 3

Ex-Joy Line hire cruiser 4

Ex-Joy Line hire cruiser 4

Trindle

There is a photo of Trindle on the main page. Since it was taken, Trindle has undergone a transformation, from small boat to Artwork.

Trindle the Artwork

Trindle the Artwork

I am told that Trindle no longer floats: that she rests on the bottom of the canal and that a metal frame prevents her from falling over. Some of the metal bits can just be seen through the grass in this next photo.

Holding Trindle up

Holding Trindle up

There is a wheelhouse, although the wheel is on the rear deck.

Trindle's wheelhouse

Trindle’s wheelhouse

And there’s a bowsprit.

The bowsprit

The bowsprit

It is unusual in its degree of ornamentation.

Ornamented bowsprit

Ornamented bowsprit

There are solar panels.

Solar panels

Solar panels

Some of the portholes are actually mirrors.

Mirrored porthole

Mirrored porthole

The next phase of development will be upward. The frame is in position.

Frame

Frame

Per ardua ad astra.

Could this be a GRP hull with a wooden transom?

Could this be a GRP hull with a wooden transom?

Several wooden boats being worked on

34 responses to “Wooden boats at Lowtown

  1. Didn’t realise there were so many wooden boats in Lowtown. Some of the same old projects rotting away but good to see some coming back to life. The progress of the Artwork will be interesting.

  2. I’ve just been looking through your website incase there are any old photos of Herbert Wood’s Delight class. I know some came to the Shannon/canals as we saw one moored in 1965 at Athlone.

    On Craig’s website he shows one being shipped in Dublin (B73 which was no. 3)

    You show a photo of an ex Joy Line cruiser – that is without doubt a Delight at Lowtown. Can anyone find out which one she was? There should be some numbers engraved in the bulk head which could be traced via the Norfolk Records office

    I own Delight VII and would love to know the fate of all 12 boats that were built.

    Liz Goodyear
    Ware
    Hertfordshire

  3. Having read everything a bit more I realise that the class is known and that there is also Hein goodewind – this just makes fascinating reading. Another Delight is also mentioned – if anyone can direct me to a link I would be greatful. Again if the bulk heads have numbers still engraved then exact details should be possible. Liz https://irishwaterways.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/hein-goodewind-at-killaloe-1_resize.jpg

  4. Liz

    Thanks for your two comments. I know of three Delights altogether in Ireland: the one at Lowtown, Hein Goodewind and another, unnamed, on the same page as Hein Goodewind: it’s a blue and white boat, about a quarter of the way down the page. Craig very kindly identified the class (I’m a steel boat man myself: a pic of our boat adorns the top of each page).

    We know that Joy Line imported three Delights. An ex-employee gave me the photos of B73 being lifted off a ship in Dublin and dropped in to the Liffey; with his permission, I passed them on to Craig. The man in question remembered that day extremely well as it was bitterly cold, and they had to take the boats downriver and then wait to lock up into the Grand Canal Docks.

    Unfortunately there is (as far as I know) no other evidence that would help to show which three Delights went to Joy Line or whether they are the three that are still extant. I believe that the one at Lowtown starred in a film called *Widow’s Peak*.

    I don’t know the owners of the three boats, but I know the chap who is working on the one at Lowtown, and he knows at least one of the other owners. I have emailed him to ask if he can help to identify the boat at Lowtown and to put me in touch with the other owner. However, last time I saw him, a couple of weeks ago, he was about to move house and he warned me that his email might be out of action for some time. Unfortunately he’s about 100 miles from me, so I may not see him for a while. So I do hope to get some information, and if I do I’ll pass it on to Craig and to you, but it may take a little while!

    Is there a photo of your Delight anywhere on the internet?

    bjg

  5. The “WidowsPeak” boat in Lowtown used to be called “Inish Fail”. There were 6 of them originally. Inish Fail, Hein Goodwin, Delight( Blue Moon when I restored Her)The Sea scouts had one I believe now broken up, there was one around Athlone and I never met the sixth one.If you are in the Lowtown area call to Jimmy the lock keeper and possibly talk to his mother Essie. She used to manage the lock back in the 60’s . Regards, Evan Vinegar Hill.

  6. Evan

    That’s very interesting; thanks. Do you know how many Ted Barrett imported and who brought in the others? There are people on the Norfolk Broads forum who are very interested in this: see . So any information you have would be very welcome.

    bjg

  7. This is absolutely fascinating and it will take me awhile to digest, when I will write a more detailed reply.

    I am still overwhelmed to know that there are still 3 Delight class boats going strong in Ireland. The mark of a truly great boatbuilder.

    In the meantime thank you to those that have replied (and emailed me privately)
    I am most grateful
    Liz

  8. Hi,
    I’ve owned Hein Goodewind for the last 25 years. She had a MAJOR re-build in 2001.
    I understand 4 Delights (3 berth) and 2 (6 berth) were imported into Ireland by Ted Barrett. I think you’ve found all four.
    Regards

  9. Sorry,

    That’s 4 (4 berth) and 2 (6 berth) !

    Rgds

  10. Cruiser in the shed is Seatrout who is owned by Connor Smyth. There is a good history attached to her

  11. Thanks again, Sean. bjg

  12. Hello Brian
    The two boats captioned ‘Another possible plywood cruiser’ and ‘Lisa-Marie at Lowtown’ are both examples of Dolphin Cruisers, built by Brooklands Aviation. The range covered both narrow (less than 6ft 10in) and wide beam boats. The former is probably a 16ft or 19ft narrow beam and the latter appears to be one of the wide beam range.
    Brooklands’ main business was fitting out aircraft, mainly using machinery for working in plywood; which is why they went into wooden boatbuilding.
    The boats were very good quality for their time, except for a tendency to leak at the transom if knocked about. Brooklands later produced some hulls in glass fibre but eventually went out of the boatbuilding business.
    I was a Dolphin dealer in the 1960s – which is when these two boats probably date from – and we operated Dolphin 16 forward drives in our hire fleet. I have seen a number of Dolphins whilst boating in Ireland.
    Best wishes
    Harry

  13. Thanks, Harry: I’ve added that information above. bjg

  14. Brian
    I owned one of the ex Ted Barrett fleet in the mid 80s.I called it Purple dawn but found the name Delight written in pencil I think on a drawer in the galley.It is still afloat in Shannon harbour .The hull is now painted blue.

  15. Was that this one, Gerry?

    bjg

  16. Hello Gerry
    Another clue to it’s original identity.
    We know that Hein Goodewind is Delight V and Inish Fail is Delight IV. This was confirmed by their bulkhead numbers.
    I own Delight VII which is still on the Norfolk Broads. It still amazes me how many clues to her original identify remain. In the winter the boats were completely stripped out and everything stored-each item was unique to that boat even thought there were 12 built but none the same length (even in the case of small bit of floorboard which had her name on it).
    Can you confirm her rear cabin layout when you owned her. Was there two parallel settees or were the settees in an L shape. The even numbers were the L shape and if this is the case she was VI and if parallel III – however there is a possibility that Ted Barrett changed these.

    I have also been told that Ted Barrett originally worked at Herbert Woods – where they were built
    Do you have any photos from when you owned her. Perhaps bjg could put us in touch if you are okay with that?
    Liz

  17. I own a dolphin 16′ which is in pristine condition. It is kept in a garage and only launched for holidays on the canal. I know that these were used in a hire fleet at Norbury Junction and was interested to hear they were used as hire boats at Lowtown. Mine is a 2 berth but a child could sleep in the forward cockpit across the seats. It still has the original gas lights and the cooker. There is nothing electrical so relatively easy to get C of C (currently expired) I had to get the gas locker lined out and had to fit a stainless steel back behind the cooker to get a C of C last time but other than that remains original. I have had many happy times in this boat including a 3 month cruise from Cheshire down to the Thames. Does anyone have any idea what kind of value my boat would have as I now have health problems and am unlikely to be able to use it again.

  18. Alan: I don’t think the Dolphins were used as hire boats at Lowtown: a lot of privately owned boats are based there. It’s great to hear that you have one in original (or better) condition.

    I have no idea about current values in the UK, but there are several sites and forums with knowledgeable people on them. You could also offer it for sale on one of the free ads sites (eg Apollo Duck) and see what offers you get. Craig Slawson’s site lists some Dolphins and the Vintage Wooden Boat Association’s site might also be worth visiting.

    bjg

  19. Brian the elegant old lady is “Margueritte” She was on a few Derg Rallies in the 90’s. Mum and Dad had a few holidays on her in the 60’s. All the best…Mark

  20. Thanks, Mark: duly amended.

    Have you ever heard of a 1930s wooden cruiser, based on the Shannon, called Janet?

    bjg

  21. Yes Brian, she was not unlike Golden Hours. Greg Whelan owned her in the early 80’s and kept her on the Dublin end of the Grand Canal. I think the plan was to use her for skipperd charter at the time. She was also moored for a while in Richmond Harbour. There is a photo in Ruth Heard’s collection of old Dublin Rallies on the Dublin IWAI site which show’s the bow and name “MY Janet” I last saw her in Richmond Harbour but don’t know what became of her. All the best….Mark

  22. Thanks, Mark: I knew you’d have the answer! bjg

  23. Hi a message for Alan Crompton | Saturday 25 June 2011 at 11:33 |
    I also own a dolphin 16′ which I have just finished renovating, also on its original trailer. Please could we get in touch ?

  24. I’ve forwarded your message to Alan Crompton. bjg

  25. Hi
    I owned the sister ship of Glare of light for 30 years, “lady be good” orignally called ray of light and then Glenaree, Ted barret brought our boat in along with the smaller delight class boats in in the 1960s, i have alot of info and photos at my house in dublin including an original brochure from joyline and a photo of all the boats moored at the lowtown coal sheds, lady be good was buit in 1929, the delight class were actually older again, i went to herbert wood and met the ex manager many moons ago and he gave me a photo of lady be good just after her been built, Lady be good is currently located at rinn river marina
    would be glad to answer any questions
    noel lynam

  26. Noel: that’s very interesting indeed, and I’d love to have more information both about the boats and about Joyline. I’ll email you direct about this. bjg

  27. Like bjg, this is fascinating stuff, I own Delight VII on the Norfolk Broads and the history of Herbert Woods never stops fascinating me. bjg has my email address and I would love to see these photos as well. Liz

  28. Can any body give me information on a broads cruser called lady be good which i think is gleam of light

  29. See Liz Goodyear’s response to your query in the final comment on the other page and Noel Lynam’s comment on this page.

    It is not clear from your questions whether you want to know about the boat’s history or its present condition; perhaps you could clarify that.

    bjg

  30. Bjg noal gave me the information i needed lady be good or ray of light is being renovated at rinn marina at the moment with new planking and painting regards michael new owner

  31. Great: look forward to seeing her out on the Shannon. bjg

  32. Excellent news

  33. Mick here from rinn marina. Cirrus is up for sale

  34. Thanks, Mick. Hope she finds a good home. bjg

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