Wednesday 2 March 2016

Castlefield Boatyard.

Castlefield Boatyard is an original narrow boat repair yard at the Black Country Museum.  Now only a visitor attraction it's still a fascinating insight into life on the English canals during the Industrial Revolution.

The working boats would have had a family living in a very small compartment at the stern end, the whole of the remaining part of the boat's hull would have been for open cargo storage such as coal, steel, stone, porcelain and general bulk cargoes.

The narrow boats we see now have the storage hold converted to very nice living areas with bedrooms and living areas plus showers etc.  A lot are privately owned for holidaying on and some are permanently lived on. The majority are owned by holiday companies for hire.

The unique decorations are known as "Barge Art" but in their working days wouldn't have been so well decorated.    

A very ornate example of "Barge Art".

This is a bow lamp and would have been attached to the front of the boat at dusk.

This man is mounting the lamp to a post on the bow of the Narrow Boat.

The Narrow Boat on the right is an example of a working boat with covers over the forward
hold.  The stack pipe would appear to show it was/is powered by a steam engine, most modern
boats have diesel engines.  The very 1st ones were pulled by horse!
It's considered wrong to refer to these boats as barges as they were much larger vessels. The
correct term is "Narrow Boats". When the canals were dug out the engineers designed them to
be quite narrow to keep the cost of construction down and the boats were built narrow to allow 2 Narrow Boats to pass safely.

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