An excerpt from Wind in the Willows

Nice? It's the ONLY thing, said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING - absolute nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing, he went on dreamily: messing - about - in - boats; messing----'
From 'Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

One of my favourite pictures

This picture is one of my favourite ones, taken by the then Ministry of Information on 14-April-1942 (so some 70 years ago) of my Mum's cousin Daphne March (later St Joseph) on her brother Christopher's boat Heather Bell  stowing the cabin strings.  I just love the way the picture is framed and the Church in the background.

There was a series of approximately 12 pictures taken for publicity purposes at Tipton in the West Midlands (sadly the location has now been filled in and built over).  The pictures can be viewed here.
This just puts the 1st photo in context

Heather Bell (the last wooden boat built by Frank Nurser) is, I understand being restored on the Aylesbury Arm.  I have the original water barrel on Leo No2.  If anyone knows anything about the current restoration will they please leave a comment.


  1. A very interesting collection of pics, that I have not seen before. It's a pity that the IWM can't get the terms right and insist upon calling a narrow boat a 'barge' and lock beams 'handles'.

  2. Hi - I've just re-read the 4 'Idle Women' books for the umpteenth time and I'm still confused. Was Daphne March and Daphne French the same person? Your photograph (compared to the one of Daphne French in 'Troubled Waters') suggests not.

    In which case,

    - is obviously wrong. (But then there are quite a few mistaked in Margaret Cornish's book.)

    Wonderful photo, though, and very crisp.


    John Benford

  3. Hi John

    No they weren't the same people. Daphne March (Heather Bell) took Kit Gayford (of Idle Women fame) on as a trainee and when Kit left to form the Idle Women Daphne March was asked to go with her but refused on the grounds that she wanted to stay on the west side of the country and continue her work from Ellesmere Port through Birmingham and down to Gloucester Docks. Daphne March spent a lot of time with her mum as crew. My Mum and Daphne were cousins. Hope that helps.


  4. Thanks, Kathryn

    There's a lot more to be written, it seems to me.

    e.g. what happened to Molly? And Daphne (March)? And Daphne (French)?



    P. S. These days I live in Leiston, Suffolk, and I volunteer at the Long Shop Museum. The Long Shop, possibly the world's first production line, was built by Richard Garrett III in 1853 - one of his nieces was Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (another her sister Millicent Fawcett). Anyway, to get to the point, one of the other volunteers/Friends of the Long Shop is Kitty Gayford's niece and a Garrett descendant. So Kitty Gayford was related to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson.

    Richard and his younger brother Newsom (father of Elizabeth and Millicent), who built Snape Maltings, married the Dunnell sisters i.e. two brothers married two sisters; some people reckon there was nothing special about the Garretts, but there was about the Dunnells.

  5. John

    Don't know about the other two but Daphne March married Kenneth St Joseph (a Cambridge Professor and the person who was instrumental in starting aerial photography and aerial mapping). See this link and and


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