Certificate no 1437
Status Registered


Function Cargo Vessel
Subfunction Barge
Location Birmingham
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Harland & Wolff Ltd, Woolwich
Built in 1937
Hull material Steel
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 0
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
6.98 feet (2.13 m)
2.89 feet (0.88 m)
Length: Overall
71.44 feet (21.79 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed


DARLEY is a narrow boat, built by Harland & Wolff Ltd. at Woolwich in January 1937. She was registered at Rickmansworth as number 160 and was fleet number 135, with gauging number 12661. Her hull is made of riveted steel and, although she would have originally had a wooden cabin, this has been replaced with a steel structure. She has a pointed bow with a raked curved stem and a counter stern. Her current engine is a 1957 Petter PD2, with two cylinders and 20 horsepower. She was commissioned by the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company Ltd. and named after Darley Dale and was initially intended for pairing with the butty, DENTON. She carried loads from Birmingham to London until the advent of nationalisation in 1948 when British Waterways took over and kept her until 1962. She was sold to Alfred Matty near Tipton for use as a dredger and approximately 15 feet was cut from her bow. The present owner purchased the two halves in 1982 and restored her to her original condition with work on the bottom, footings and cabin. She featured in a film called 'There go the Boats'. This showed her being loaded with twenty-five tons of wheat, towing the butty AYR with thirty tons of wheat. The man steering the DARLEY was Mr. Alf Best and his wife was filmed on the tiller of the AYR with a baby on the roof. The wheat was going to Whitworth Mills on the River Nene at Hopehampton. At this time, DARLEY had a National two cylinder diesel engine.

Key dates

  • 1937

    Built by Harland & Wolff in Woolwich, London as a Narrow Motor Boat for the Grand Union Canal Co.

  • 1948

    Passed to British Waterways.   Used in a film, ‘There go the Boats’

  • 1948-1962

    Used by British Waterways

  • 1962

    Purchased by Alfred Matty & Co who cut 15 feet off the bow to make a Dredger

  • 1982

    The two parts were purchased  by the present owner who restored her to her original condition

  • 2015

    The present condition and whereabouts of the vessel are unknown

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk