Registration number 2059
Status Registered


Function Cargo Vessel
Subfunction Narrow Boat
Location Cambridge
Current use Ongoing conservation
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required Yes


Builder Nurser Brothers, Braunston
Built in 1937
Hull material Wood
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Inboard diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
6.80 feet (2.07m)
3.00 feet (0.92m)
Length: Overall
70.25 feet (21.43m)


Built in 1937 by Nursers of Braunston, HEATHER BELL is a narrowboat of timber construction. Her current engine is a Lister diesel SR3 installed in 1966. In World War II she was used for the training of women who replaced men during the war. At that time she was crewed by her owners, Daphne March and her mother. In an article written by Daphne March in 1945 she describes life on the canals, previously the province of men. The work was hard and physical, relieved occasionally by incidents such as a tow from a petrol tanker in the River Severn. In December 1941 she sank in 8 feet of water after a collision and was refloated after 3 days. HEATHER BELL was owned by the March family from 1937 to 1954 and had 6 more owners from 1954 to 2003 when she was bought by her present owner. She has never been renamed or shortened or substantially rebuilt and has never carried a full cabin; a pictorial record of her exists from her earliest days. She is now being restored in Norfolk and the restoration is 80% complete in September 2007.

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Key dates

  • 1937 Vessel built by Nursers of Braunston
  • 1941 Vessel sunk after a collison and was refloated
  • 1954

    She was sold to Wyvern Shipping Co Ltd

  • 1963 - 2003

    between these years, she had six owners


  • April 2008

    A Sustainability Grant of ú525 for renewal of bottom boards was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

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