Registration number 3739
Status Registered


Function Cargo Vessel
Subfunction Narrow Boat
Location Rugby
Vessel type Butty
Current use Community Vessel
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions No


Builder Harris Brothers, Netherton
Built in 1958
Hull material Iron
Number of decks 1
Primary engine type None
Boilermaker None


Length: Overall
50.00 feet (15.24m)
Breadth: Beam
6.60 feet (2.01m)


VANADIUM is one of the very last iron riveted butty boats built by the well known Harris Brother, of Netherton in 1958. One of six identical vessels completed for the fleet of Hardy Spicers engineering (manufacturers of universal joints), for transport between different sections of their factory on the BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigation) This enterprise lasted only a few years when in 1966 Hardy Spicer became GKN Driveline, and the factory consolidated, the fleet was no longer needed.

This coincided with a massive and almost fatal decline in commercial use of the Inland Waterways, and Vanadium became essentially worthless. VANADIUM'S immediate history after the Hardy Spicer period in currently unknown, but Vanadium had ended up submerged on the Shropshire Union Canal and had apparently been sunk at least 20 years when a Mr Marrick started to take an interest in the 1990’s He had her refloated and discovered the original wooden hull damaged beyond repair. The hull was removed and replace with steel, there was a reduction in the depth of the vessel at this point, and a steel frame was added to both stop spreading and to provide fixture for a roof. In 2013 James Bentley bought the vessel with the aim of using it as a community asset within the Inland waterways boating community, trading under the name “The Village Butty”. For six years Vanadium served this community as a meeting place and arts venue in the London area. It won a prestigious ‘Living Waterways Award’ in 2019 for Best Arts Venue. A combination of ill health and covid forced Mr Bentley to sell and Richard Guard and Anna Crockatt became the new owners in 2021. With the aid of a grant from Arts Council England they have renovated the vessel, ensuring that there will be minimal deterioration in the foreseeable future.

Key dates

  • 1958-06-07 manufactured

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