Narrowboat Clee

Originally built – at a cost of £972 – by Fellows Morton and Clayton at Uxbridge in 1947, Clee was one of the last three wooden boats built for the company. She was one of the new ‘Hill’ class, intended to work in the company’s northern fleet based at Wolverhampton and they were all fitted with 9hp Bolinders.

A year later, however, FMC went into voluntary liquidation and all the company’s assets were purchased by the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive. Clee went on to work in the NW division until she was sunk and abandoned in the northernmost of two flashes near Anderton.

There she lay, ‘pickled’ in salt rich water, until she was refloated in 1983, continuing her working life on the Oxford canal.

Today Clee remains underwater at Alvecote Marina – one of the only wooden ‘joshers’ left on the canal. She retains the majority of her original wooden planks and cabin, making her the perfect unadulterated pattern for a complete restoration in her original form.

However her condition is now very poor. She would be unable to move safely away from her mooring, and we urgently need to raise funds to begin restoration.

The 9hp Bolinder

The Bolinder was the first heavy oil production engine that was successfully introduced to the canals of England. Built in Sweden the 15 hp direct reversing semi-diesel engine was first Installed into the FMC motor Linda in 1912 at a cost of £189. Following his success a further eight were ordered and in August 1912 a smaller 9hp engine was ordered for ‘Lindola’ which was a wooden motor designed to run without a butty. Fellows Morton & Clayton continued using Bolinders throughout their trading life and the 9hp unit saw a revival again in 1935 when they were installed into the fish class. Clee was fitted with one such engine in 1947.

Life On Board Narrow Boat Clee

Keen to find out more about Clee’s history, we searched the internet – and that revealed a tiny picture of Clee with two little girls standing at the stern. Meanwhile, a health survey record for 1948 revealed that her boatman was Jack Meredith. Usually health records only listed the number of children on board a boat, not their names, but in Clee’s case both girls’ names and year of birth were recorded because they had contracted scarlet fever.

According to the records, in 1948 Ethel and Mary Meredith, aged 10 and 3 at the time, lived on Clee with their parents John Henry Meredith (b. 1912) and Sarah Meredith (Nee Rowley (b.1918). Usually health records only give the number of resident children but Ethel and Mary were named because at the time they were suffering from scarlet fever. Both Ethel and Mary now live in Loughborough.

Click the picture to find out more about Ethel and Mary’s life on Narrowboat Clee…

Clee Today