Canal carrying around Birmingham was generally very different to the rest of the country, using tugs pulling trains of day boats or joeys instead of a motor and butty or single horse boat. Hulls like ironsides were built in the hundreds and rarely had cabins or living accommodation, being used only for day work. They were made more quickly and crudely than many long distance boats but some, like Thomas Bantock boats, still retained fine lines.
IRONSIDES, built in 1900, is an increasingly rare craft in that it is completely unaltered from its original build, still un-cabined and unconverted. The vessel was a British Waterways asset at some point, being latterly used as a mud hopper in the North of England before being bought and used by the Huddersfield canal restoration group. Subsequently she was used as a horse boat and a mud hopper by the Ashton canal society.
It is believed she may have been a Great Western Railway station boat and may have had a small day cabin fitted when built.
Currently under private ownership, the plan for IRONSIDES is to keep her unconverted, initially to use as an exhibition boat showing how limestone was brought to Marple by house boat.
Vessel built by Thomas Bantock & Co., Wolverhampton
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