Certificate no 1938
Status Registered


Function Cargo Vessel
Subfunction Barge
Location Aylesbury
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No
Web address www.fulbourne.org.uk


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
7.04 feet (2.15 m)
2.90 feet (0.88 m)
Length: Overall
71.48 feet (21.80 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed



FULBOURNE was built in 1937 as a commercial carrying boat for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company Limited (GUCCCo). She was one of forty-eight riveted steel narrow boats built for GUCCCo by Harland and Woolf at North Woolwich on the River Thames during 1936-37 and is known as a 'Large Woolwich'. FULBOURNE is a GUCCCo 'Town Class' narrow boat; each boat being named after a British town. Fulbourn(e) is a small village near Cambridge, its main claim to fame being a large psychiatric hospital. Other GUCCCo classes of boat were the 'Royalty Class' (built 1929-31) and the 'Star Class' (built 1934-36) - in all more than 350 narrow boats. FULBOURNE remained in the GUCCCo fleet until nationalisation in 1947, when the British Transport Commission (Docks and Inland Waterways Executive) assumed control. In her working life, FULBOURNE would have operated with a second boat, an unpowered 'butty' boat. The same family normally operated both boats. FULBOURNE worked with various butties, including NESTON (1939), DUDLEY (1949-55), EWELL (1955), CHESHAM (1957), HALTON (1958) and also ARGOS and CHIPSTEAD. Several families lived and worked on FULBOURNE at this time, including the late Mr. and Mrs. Wallington (1949-55) and Joe Allcot (1957-58). In 1963, the newly created British Waterways Board decided to end commercial carrying by its narrowboat fleet and FULBOURNE was sold to the first of a series of private owners. A full-length cabin was built over the hold in 1965 and, for the next fifteen years, she was used as a pleasure boat. She was in a poor state of repair in 1983 when she was bought by David Powell of Woodford near Kettering. He had her removed from the water and transported to his company's yard at Thrapston where he planned to undertake major work. Unfortunately, his plans never came to fruition, so FULBOURNE lay neglected for three years in the yard. In February 1986, the present owners purchased her and commenced the lengthy task of restoration back to original working condition. On 12 June 1986, FULBOURNE was transported from Thrapston and craned back into the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne. The following year the 1960s conversion was removed from the hold, a new back cabin constructed, the gunwales renewed and the stands, cross planks, top planks and cratch were reinstated. Also new black cloths were fitted over the hold to match the originals. Until 2000, FULBOURNE was based at Harefield on the Grand Union Canal and cruised the canal system extensively, usually attending the Inland Waterways Association National Rally and the Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice. She has subsequently been based on the Caldon Canal but is now based in Aylesbuty, she continues to cruise the canal system. Regular working parties are held to ensure that the boat is kept in good condition, with dry dockings for maintenance and painting of the hull. The cloths have to be replaced frequently as good quality black canvas cloths are now hard to come by. A National DM2 engine eventually replaced the Lister SR3 engine installed when the boat was converted, although not the one originally fitted. When the new back cabin was decorated it was painted in the Coronation colours, which is believed to be its original livery. In 2000, the cabin was re-painted in its war-time austerity livery.

Key dates

  • 1937

    Built by Harland & Wolf in Woolwich as a Motor Boat for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Co

  • 1938-1949

    She worked for the GUCCCo,  working with various Butty Boats

  • 1947

    GUCCCo taken over by the British Transport Commission

  • 1949

    New owner

  • 1954

    She was re-engined with a two- cylinder National diesel

  • 1957

    New owner

  • 1963

    The newly created British Warterways Board decided to end commercial carrying by its Narrow Boat fleet.  So she was sold to a number of private owners

  • 1965

    A full length cabin was built and she was used as a Pleasure Boat for 15 years

  • 1983

    New owner

  • 1986

    Essential repairs were carried out so that she could return to the water and then she was transported from Thrapston to the Grand Union Canal

  • 1987-1988

    The 1960s conversion was removed from the hold, the gunwales renewed and the stands, cross planks, top planks and cratch reinstated

  • 2008

    New owner

  • 2012

    Vessel selected for  Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June 2012

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