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.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

A bit of history

Alton and Moon © Rob Westlake
I have become a little bit involved with Sculptor - the former Grand Union working boat which is owned by the Canal & River Trust but lovingly maintained by the Friends of the Canal Museum; we are working up a program of maintenance and training to ensure Sculptor lives on for many years - she will be 80 in 2015.

It was suggested, as most things are, over a drink in the Boat Inn that we might consider taking Sculptor and Moon (a now converted butty moored in Stoke Bruerne) to the Braunston Historic gathering which is in June. That idea has met with a lot of enthusiasm - we now of course have to ask the Trust if we may use Sculptor as the motor to take Moon to Braunston (and back).  This prompted my friend Rob Westlake to send in the attached image of Moon (© Rob Westlake), taken in 1984, of Moon with an unidentified Motor.  My friend Ray, who volunteers with the Narrowboat Trust, was very helpful in identifying the motor as Alton which is, in turn, owned by friends of mine of some 20 years, Brian and Ann-Marie McGuigan.  What a small world.


  1. It is truly the most wonderful thing to find tucked away items on the internet.

    Thirty three odd years ago Okehampton School in Devon, organised in June or July of that year, a weeks board upon Alton and Moon for a small group of students during our "Activities Week" at the end of the school year. Extraordinary to see these pictures of these beautiful boats just as I remember them; extraordinary!

    A monumental holiday for a shy thirteen year old. And I did not know then just what a special experience we were having. I think that we would have started out at Braunston, up the Grand Union to Gas Street, down the Birm' and Worcs' to join the Stratford Canal at Kings Norton, and then back to Kingswood Junction and Braunston.

    Kind regards,
    Richard Smallwood. Devon.

  2. Richard - delight it brought back memories. Moon is moored opposite my house in Stoke Bruerne and Alton is owned by friends Brian and Ann Marie McGuigan who run Alton as a fuel boat around Manchester - their contact details are here -

    Kind Regards