BITTELL..... (Tug 5) THE HISTORY.
BITTELL (Tug 5) towing a train of joey boats towards Gorsty Hill Tunnel. Circa 1950.
In 1933 Stewarts and Lloyds were looking to increase there fleet of tugs, so quotes were being sought. Yarwood and Sons of Northwich were the Company chosen to build the two tugs. "Bittell" or Tug 5 (as it was called in those days) was built alongside it's sistership "Pacific" Tug 4 (as it was called in those days) But only the hulls were built
there, both were finished in July 1934
Tug 5 (Bittell) just coming out of the southern end of Netherton Tunnel towing a train of loaded joey boats. Circa 1950's
Both hulls were taken down to the Black Country to have their cabins fitted by Harris's
Boat Yard at Bumble Hole, Netherton. The engines were also fitted here as well. Both boats had the same type of engine, a four cylinder Fordson tractor side valve engine running on T.V.O. (Tractor Vaporising Oil) the engine produced 27 horse power driving
through a three speed manual gearbox.
Tug 4 (Pacific) towing three loaded joey boats on the New Main Line Canal heading towards Wolverhampton. Circa 1950's.
Tug's 4 and 5 (Pacific and Bittell) are 40 feet long with a 6ft 6" beam and a 2ft 8" draught. Both shells were made of rivoted wrought iron and has rounded chines built in the hull design for Ice Breaking purposes. they weigh around 12 ton's each.
Both tugs were delivered to Stewarts and Lloyds at Coombswood, Halesowen in September 1934.
Both tug's were put to work straight away, their main jobs were to go up to the Cannock Coal Fields with their empty joey boats to get filled with around ten tons of coal in each joey boat. Up to about five joey's were strung together on each tug, each tug would be pulling around 100 tons behind them! They would drop some full boats off as they passed S & L at Bilston, then carry on to S & L at Coombswood to drop the others.
Men would shovel the coal out of the boats into the hungry furnaces. The tugs would then return to Cannock for more coal. And so it went on every day !
Tugs 5 and 4 (Bittel and Pacific) Moored outside the slag pile at Stewarts and Lloyds, Springvale, Bilston. Circa late 1950's.
In 1958 Tug 5 and Tug 4 were laid up and worn out together at Stewarts and Lloyds, Springvale, Bilston, for a while. British Waterways Bought the two tugs in 1958, they intended to use them for maintanance duties and ice breaking. Tug 5 was re-pained in the British Wateways blue livery. The engine's were also replaced in both of the tugs. They both recieved a H.A. Lister 3 cylinder engines with Blackstone gearbox's, the Lister engine produces 33 h.p. at 1800 r.p.m.
Tug 4 went onto the Brownhill's section of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (B.C.N.)
And was moored at Snyd Junction. Tug 5 went to Lower Bittell on the Worcester/Birmingham Canal. This is where it got it's name BITTELL. Bittell was used to keep the Worc/B.ham Canal clear of ice, especialy in the winter of 1963 where it played a vital part in keeping the channel clear.
Bittell moored up on the New Main line. In it's new livery of British Waterways. Circa 1960
Tug 4 moored up at Snyed Juncton. Still in it's S & L livery. Circa early 1960. (Photo, Weaver Collection)
Pacific moored up at Brownhills. Now in it's British Waterway's livery. 1960.
Tug 4 worked for British Waterway for just a few years until it was sold to Alfred Matty
of Cosley. It was here that tug 4 was painted in the yellow and black colour's of Matty's livery. All of Matty's boats were christened with names of Ocean's and tug 4 became PACIFIC.
Pacific was used in many dredging contracts around the local canal system and was often seen towing mud hoppers full of spoil dredgings. One of the job's the tug was involved with was the dredging out of the Stourbridge canal which re-opened in 1962
With a large rally of boats in attendance. The year is now 2012 and later on in October the Stourbridge Navigation Trust will be cellibrating the 50th year of the opening of the Stourbridge Canal.
Pacific breaking ice on the Bradley Canal Arm. Circa 1960's
Bittell moored up at the top lock Perry Bar flight. Circa 1970. (Colin Scriviner photo)
Bittell moored outside Charlie Atkins Jr Cottage at the top of Farmers Bridge locks, Birmingham. ( Colin Scivener photo) Circa 1970's
Bittell would often be seen moored at the top of Farmers bridge locks in Birmingham
This is where Charlie "Choclate" Atkin's Jr lived, he would often be seen operating Bittell
for British Waterways doing maintanance jobs like delivering pilings etc.
Bittell breaking Ice on the New Main line Canal, heading towards Wolverhampton. Circa 1970's.
One day in 1990, Nick Fazey from Dudley Canal Trust was at British Waterways Workshops at Bradley, having the trust's trip boats hulls painted in the dry dock. When he spotted a rusty old tug half sunk up the end of the Bradley Canal Arm.
Nick had been looking for a tug to tow the trust trip boats around to and from events so it would save on battery power. So negotiations between Dudley Canal Trust and British Waterways commenst. A lease was drawn up by B.W. and Dudley Canal Trust became the new custodian's of Bittell.
Bittell moored at the Black Country Museum in the hands of the Dudley Canal Trust about to be worked on.
Nick on the back of Bittell coming down Parkhead Locks with it's new paint job. 1991
Bittell's mooring was at the Black Country Living Museum, this is where members of the Dudley Canal Trust worked on the boat to get it up to a usable condition. The whole of the boat was rubbed down. They did find places where the cabin was rotted through, so it was repaired and the boat painted back into the old Stewarts & Lloyds of red and
green with ivory lettering livery.
Bittell towing Stour (bottom right hand photo.) I think it's Dave Claverley is steering Bittell ? This post card of Tipton was found by James Brooks in a shop.
Bittell towing three boats (1 Joey, and 2 electric trip boats) On a wet day at the Worcester Bar in Gas Street Birmingham. Just coming back from the Santa Specials at Tardebigge.
In 1992 I took over the Lock Cottage (see other page for the full story) Gill and myself
joined Dudley Canal Trust as members. In the four years ahead I was two busy with the cottage to get invloved with D.C.T. But in 1996 I was asked if I would go onto their Committee, which I did. I also learned how to steer Bittell, this is how I devloped my interest in narrowboat's especialy the working boats. I must admit not knowing anything
about narrowboats and the canal system. I do rememer being up on the roof of the cottage one day cementing the chimney pot back on, when several boats were coming up Blowersgren Lock and disapering around the corner, asking myself "I wonder where
that canal goes to ?" Well it was not long before I found out, when a work party was organised by the D.C.T. We were collecting floating rubbish on the canal and putting it all in this 70ft joey boat that was being towed by Bittell.
Bittell being painted up outside my Cottage at Parkhead Locks. 1996
In my spare time I would keep Bittell tidy and painted up. Then a goup of us would take the tug to canal rallys around the Brimingham Canal Navigations promoting Dudley Canal Trust and the canalboat trips into the Limestone Mines. The tug was also used to
help do canal clearing jobs. Normaly around March time a organised work party would pick on a part of the B.C.N. normaly it's somewhere around Walsall area. In 1997 the very first B.C.N. Clean up was organised by the Inland Waterways and British Waterways. Around 300 volunteers turned up over two days to pull scrap and rubbish
from beneath the surface of the water. Bittell would turn up and our crew would fill the joey boat up with all the stuff dragged out. We have been involved with this every year
1997 Peter Freakley steering Bittell with the joey breasted up to the tug full of scrap ! Tame Valley Canal.
Later on in 1997 Bittell had to go into Bradley Workshops Dry Dock for a hull inspection and a engine service. This gave me chance to have a look under a canal boat for the first time and to see what exactley was under Bittell's water line.
Bittell in the dry dock at Bradley. Bittell has a 2ft 8" draught, the bronze propeller is 2ft in dia.
In May of 1998 we took Bittell on it's first long trip to the Braunston Boat Show which happened over the Whitson Bank Holiday. It took us three days to get there by boat and one hour to drive back ! Over 100 boats were booked into this event, this was one of the biggest event we had ever attended.
Bittell on it's way down Hatton Locks on the Grand Union Canal. (Bottom photo) Martin Bingham handing out leaflets to passers by at Braunston. 1998.
It was at Braunston I learnt something. I was told by Bob May who came to see us, that another tug that looked exactly like Bittell was out of the water at Nursers boat yard situated by the bottom lock of the Braunston Lock Flight. Armed with my camera I went down there. To my supprise the boat turned out to be the Sistership to Bittell. The tug was called PACIFIC. A chap called Roger Farrington was restoring the hull which he told me was in a bit of a state ! Infact he had to re-build most of the hull and rear counter. This was the first time I clapped my eyes on Pacific and did not know that another tug like this existed ! Well since this encounter I started collecting old photo's of the two tugs and their history. It turns out that only two of these type of tugs were ever built by Yarwoods and suppisingly they still exist today.
Top photo. Rex Wain taking Pacific to Braunston for restoration. 1996 (photo Bob May via Canal & Riverboat Magazine) Bottom Photo, Pacific in Nursure's boatyard in 1997.
Bittell took on far to much water for it to float anymore! Sunday 20th March 1998.
Sunday 20th March 1998 was a bad day in Bittell's life. The day before (Saturday) I took Bittell out just to turn the boat around ready to take it out for the Sunday, As I was winding the boat around a loud bang!bang!bang! was heard under the rear counter ? I got to the towpath and started to remove a very long lorry ratchet strap that had wrapped it's self around the propeller ! The banging I heard was a metal shackel that was on the end of the strap. After about one hour I did remove it, and then went home LATE ! The plan on Sunday was to collect a joey boat from Titford Locks. But as we approached the tug things wern't looking very good......Bittell had SUNK overnight ? After getting the very large pumps out of the mines, we sealed up the doorways and started pumping water out, It took about an hour before I could see any difference in the water levels, but we were starting to win. By 1pm Bittell was floating again. Upon further examination I found the culprit. That shackel that hit the underside of the rear counter on Saturday had punched the smallest of hole in the steelwork, this was enough to sink the boat ! After doing a temperary repair to stop it from sinking again, British Waterways came around on the following Monday to change all the oil's in the engine & Gearbox plus replace the shorted out battery and replace the alternator plus replace the starter motor. By Wednesday the engine was running and the tug was taken to Bradley Workshops under it's own power.
Bittell awaiting repairs at British Waterways, Bradley Workshops. April 1998.
In April 1998 I went around to B.W. Workshops at Bradley to see what was happening to Bittell, It appeared not a lot was happening because they were so busy at the time.
Bittell had been craned out and put in the yard until they could assess the work that needed doing. A few weeks later found that B.W. had examind the hull and the rear counter was found to be completly rotten ! Bittell sat there for the rest of the year!
Work started at the beginning of 1999. New Swim plates being fitted.
At the begining of 1999 they started work on the hull of Bittell. New swim plates were rivoted on and a complete rear counter replaced with new steel. This went on for a few months until the complete rear end was complete. Bittell was lowered into the water and a sucsessfull job was done. But when B.W. did the job they noticed the cabin was going very rotten around the edges. So a decission was made to cut off the complete cabin.
Cutting the old cabin off in the dry dock. September 1999.
The engine and gearbox was removed and the cabin cut off the hull. They tried to save as many of the pieces to go back onto the new cabin as possible, including all the angle iron, and the pigeon box.
Bittell having to wait it's turn for more urgent jobs!
At times Bittell needed to come out of the dry dock to make way for more urgent jobs on other boats. This slowed the progress down. Joe Hollingshead had the job of hot rivoting the new cabin back together again, which happend to be his last job before he retired.
April 2000, Bittell is finished complete with it's new cabin and rear counter. All painted up in the red and green of Stewarts and Lloyds.
August 2000. Bittell at Netherton, BBC filming all day. Note, Morris truck on the grass.
Dave Perks from Signs and Symbols was comissioned to do the lining out and signwriting, Bittell was back in action again and going out to canal events.
Bittell being blessed with holy water by the Bishop of Birmingham. Netherton Boat Rally 2000.
September 2000, James Brooks steering Bittell around a tight bend on the Ashby Canal.
Bittell as Thunderbird 4. Notice the words on the front bonnet " DUDLEY CANAL TRUST UNDER WATER CRAFT" Water and Light Festival October 2000.
We, Dudley Canal Trust have been involved in the Water & Light Festival since it started in 1997. Bittell has attended all of them apart from 1998/99. So I decieded (after a lot of ribbing about Bittell's sinking) I would turn the boat into a Underwater Craft. The plan was to turn the boat into the Yellow Submarine that the Beatles made famous. But that was over 35 years ago and I feared that nobody from the younger generation would remember it. The T.V. were doing a re-run on Thunderbirds are GO at the time.
So I decieded to build a Thunderbird 4.
I built it in the yard of the Pumphouse which took me around 30 hours ! It was built from 1/4" steel rod which I welded together into a frame. Then wrapped clingfilm around the frame sevral times to firm it all up. The whole body was then sprayed bright yellow.
The lettering was made up using cardboard letters, cut out and painted, then stuck onto the body of the craft. Lifting this up onto the boat was a major problem,you have to remember this is nearly 40 ft long and would bend in the middle ! So, I had an cunning plan up my sleave. 6 of us carried the framework very carfully up the tow path to my Cottage, then, useing scaffolding bars we slid the framework over the lock chamber, we floaded the lock with Bittell inside the chamber. Bittell very slowly came up inside Thunderbird 4.
I put striplights on the roof of Bittell and on the bow so Thunderbird 4 would glow in the dark. Two large exhaust's were made for the back and smoke machines were put inside to make smoke. As I made my way steering the boat from Parkhead to the Waterfront it did make people turn their heads and could not belive what they were seening ! At the event people were asking me were Bittell was ? It was well hidden! Around 10.000 people turned up to see the Festival and the Firework's but alas Thunderbird 4 did not win anything !
2001. Bittell towing Kildare down the Grand Union Canal to Milton Keynes.
In August 2001 we had an intresting job to do with Bittell. The Steam Boat Presedent was laid up at Dadfords boat yard in Stourbridge having hull and boiler repairs. D.C.T. were asked if we could do the "Friends of Presedent" a favor, Could we tow Kildare to the Inland Waterways National Canal Boat Rally in Milton Keynes ? We were thinking of taking Bittell there anyhow, so we agreed to do the job.
August 2001. A very poignant moment in history..... Bittell outside Nursure's Boat Yard with Pacific opposite. You can see John talking on the bow of his boat Brentford.
As Bittell and Kildare were waiting their turn for Braunston locks I noticed a very sorry looking Pacific moored up on the off side of the canal outside Nurser's Boat Yard. Little
did I know at the time that John Pattle (who I had heard of but did not know then) was buying Pacific. This was a very cose encounter of the two tugs getting together for the first time sice they got split up in 1958 !
We carried on to Milton Keynes still towing Kildare not realising what a poiniant moment that was. Four and a half day's later we arrived at our destination. After attending all three days at the event it only took us one hour and half to drive back home.
Bittell towing the Galleon to Tardebigge through Birmingham, this turned a lot of heads! Steve steering, The late Dave Smith stood next to me, Brian Smith sat up front.
2003. Bittell heading down the River Seven on our way to the Saul Junction Festival on the Gloucester Sharpness Canal.
Bittell tied up alongside the Dredger at Gloucester Docks.
John Hadley Celebrate's Bittell's 70th Birthday (1934 to 2004)
2005. Bittell has a re-paint and spruce up.
During the spring of 2005 we took Bittell down to Dadfords Shed in Stourbridge for Ian Kemp to refit all the timber back onto the bow area that has been missing for years, plus replacing the rotted timbers as well, that ran down the middle. He used a hardwood called "Kepple" Hopefully this will last a long time.
When I got Bittell back home to Parkhead I was thinking it was looking a bit taty since B.W. had painted the boat in 2000.
Over the last five years since the rebuild, we had been taking Bittell to canal events,
Two things that came up on occasions, was that, if we have the right green painted on the cabin, and have we got the correct livery on the side of the boat ?
Because if you look back at the Black and White photo's that I've collected over the years, you will see Stewarts and Lloyds in LARGE Letters down the sides of the cabin.
I must admit I was having many problems trying to get the correct green paint.
Bittell has had a few different shades of green over the years When we attended the Netherton Canal Show I often had ex-Stewarts and Lloyds employees saying to me "That's the wrong green on that tug mate !" I've allways asked them for the correct green but they say they could not remember ? But they are sure that's not the correct green !
That did not help me at all ! I contacted local historians that were around in those day's, they could not help. If you look at the old photos, they are all in black and white so they are no help. One day a knock came at my door, it was Francis Stapleton who was bringing me an enrty form for a boat gathering at the BCLM.
I asked him if he knew anything about Stewarts and Lloyds livery. He said he did not, but If I went to the Black Country Living Museum and find the wood shed that was in the boat dock, you should find an old rudder that came off an old Stewarts and Lloyds joey boat. So armed with some T cut and colour swatches I set off to find this rudder the very next day. After finding the rudder, there were only small parts of the original paint left on it, but it was enough to clean it up and discover the correct livery colours. Bright Red, Grass Green and Ivory lettering.
This was the first complete boat I've ever painted. So having rubbed the paintwork down on the cabin, several coats of red oxied was applied. I went to Phill Spight of Stourbridge to buy the enamel top coat paint in a satin finish. I chose to use a fine sponge roller to apply the paint starting with the base red. I put on three coats of red top coat, then after a few day's of drying off I masked up the cabin to paint on the three coats of green.
I coated the new woodwork on the bow with a dark black wood stain so it would soak in well to preserve it. Again leaving it a few days, I started masking up the cabin to paint the 1" Ivory boarder around the cabin. Later on I got Dave Perks from "Signs and Symblos" to do all the signwrighting on the side of the cabin. The whole job from start to finish took about one month to complete.
Bittell is finished. Steve posing with a cup of tea by the finished paintwork.
Bittell towing the steam boat Presedent from Dadfords Shed, Stourbridge to the Black Country Living Museum. 2005.
Bittell towing two joey boats and winding around at Anglesey Basin. (Whitson 2005)
July 2005. Gavin and Jan just coming out of a tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal, heading towards Anderton lift.
In July 2005 Bittell was invited to go back to the boat yard of Yarwood's and Son's of Northwich where she was built back in 1934. This was to celibrate the 40th year shutdown of the boat yard who were very famose in building many canal working boats and sea going boats. The trip took around four days to get there.
Steve steering Bittell into one of the Cassions in the Anderton Lift......Going down !
Bittell just coming out of the Anderton Lift onto the River Weaver.
Bittell Bombing down the River Weaver to Northwich.
The sign above is still on the office wall. Below is a photo of how Yarwood's boat yard was like in it's hey day. The River arm is still there, we did get Bittle up there, but all the factory has gone
In September 2005 we took Bittell to Shackerstone Steam Rally. This is the end of the Ashby Canal. (so far !)
Later that week we went to a British Waterways event in Covenrty Basin. Here a Bronze Statue of James Brindley looks over Bittell.
Heidi Steering Bittell around the Wall of Death ! At Tipton........ towing G.W.R.15 Joey boat.
Baby Bittell. Steve built this model 1"to the foot. Took me around six months to finish.
I alway fanced having a model of Bittell, I certanly could not afford to pay for someone
to build me one, so I built one myself.
I met Harry Green at the BCNS Bonfire event at Smethwick last November (2004) He had made model canal boats and was displaying them at this event. He showed me a
70" long fiberglass shell (1"to the foot) of a boat he was building for someone. I asked him if he had ever made a fiberglass tug before. He said no, but If you give me some photos and mesurements of the tug I will see if I can make a wooden mould. So armed with a tape measure I measured up Bittell and took many photo's. It took Harry around 6 months for him to make the mould and to produce the fierglass shell.
Now, I had never built a model of a boat before, so this was going to be a first. Okay the hardest part was done for me. The fiberglass shell was 40" long and 6 1/2" wide (40ft & 6ft 6" wide) All I had to do was to fit it all out, inside and out.
So with lot's of patience and a good eye I started building "Baby Bittell"
The motor came from a Cortina heater motor (12 volt system) I bought all the radio control system from a model shop and I did buy the propeller. But everything you see I made myself, No, I tell a lie ! I bought 500 brass rivots as close as I could to look in scale with the rest of the boat, then drilled 500 holes to stick them all in. The paint is exactly the same paint as what is on Bittell, as it was some left over from the paint job I did in the spring this year. Dave Perks from "Signs And Symbols" had the painstaking job of doing the all the signwrighting. By the end of September I had finished the job and it worked well.
By September 2005 I had finished Baby Bittell. The first event was The Netherton Boat Rally.
October 2005, Newspaper cutting out of the Express and Star, On the Monday after the Stourbridge open weekend.
December 2005. Bittell in Caggy's Boat Yard Dry Dock. To replace the stern tube and propshaft. Plus reblacked the hull as well.
We fitted a new saddle brearing to support the wear on the stern tube.
Over the Winter of 2005/6 I stripped the engine down to have a re-build.
During the winter of 2005/6 I found that the engine had been smoking very badly over the last year plus suffering with oil leaks. So I had the job of stripping the engine down to it's bare block to see what I could find. I found the oil ring on number 1 cylinder broken which had scored the bore slightly. The bores had gone ovel as well. So it was a re-bore of 60 thou oversize with new pistons to suit plus new bearings fitted as well.
I stripped the cylinder heads down and found the valve guides bady worn as well. So haveing replaced 6 of those I de-choked the carbon out of the cylinder heads and ground in the valves. re-built the engine with new shims and gasket's. The engine was painted in Lister Green.Having service the engine as well we were ready to tackle the 2006 season.
Bittell's H.A.Lister Engine. 3 Cylinders, Air Cooled, 33 H.P @ 1,800 r.p.m. With a Blackstone Gearbox Fitted.
Gavin and Jan steering Bittell, towing Kildare to Stourbridge to have work done to the Butty.......March 2006..
Gavin and Jan towing G.W.R.15 Joey boat just coming back from Ellesmere Port......April 2006
Steve being interviewed by a film crew for Alan Heard's "Narrowboat Afloat" Program. BCLM May 2006.
Bittell on it's way to London..... Top photo just coming out of Ashted Tunnel in Birmingham.....Bottom photo, Bittell looking lost in the wide locks at Knowle on the Grand Union Canal.
We were going to P & S Marine of Watford, London. to witness the grand launching of Pacific....July 2006.
After a five year restoration program, John Pattle sucsessfuly restored Pacific. John had completly rebuilt the cabin and engine plus completly fitted the inside of the boat with luxury items like central heating, fixed beds, a complete galley, and shower.
This was also John's 60th Birthday, and what a birthday it was. Around 50 of his friends
turned up to watch this great launch of Pacific, with all the press invited and a loud
cheer the tug entered the Grand Union Canal. After the launch came the party, with real ale a bar-b-que and free Dodgem car rides it certainly was a day and a night to remember.
Pacific in the water at last,This is where the two tug's finaly got together since they got split up in 1958! Steve and John cellibrate this great happening, Notice Baby Bittell alongside the two tugs
So...Do you remember this old photograph taken at Bilston in the 1950's of Bittell & Pacific........
.....Well we set up the same scene between Bittell & Pacific around 55 years apart !
This is another scene we tried to set up ( not quite !) Photo is taken from the exact location around 60 years apart !
October 2006 Water & Light Festival. Bittell as a Missasippie paddle steamer. I still did not win anything !
March 2007. B.C.N. Clean up, on the Wyrley and Essington Canal, Wallsal...Top photo Steve has the boats breasted up for ease of loading..Below Gavin and Heidi tow the full boat back to be emptied.
May 2007. The site of the old Stewarts and Lloyds Steelworks, Coombswood Halesowen.
On May 15th/16th 2007 I helped organise the Coombswood Canal Society's open weekend.
My part in this was to organise the 40th year shut down of the Stewarts and Lloyds Factory that was open between 1903 to 1967. after 1967 British Steel took over the site, until around 1983, when the site shut down for the last time.
Part of the factory still exsists today, mainly seen from the canalside. It just happens to be the retaining wall that holds up the ground where a modern Industrial Estate is on the top now.
All five Stewarts and Lloyds tugs that used to work here attended this one off event. Tug 1, Tug 2 (Argol) Tug 3 (Vesta) Tug 4 (Pacific) Tug 5 (Bittell) We even borrowed some joey boats to set the scene and to be used for the tugs to tow around in and out of the near by Gorsty Hill Tunnel. I had organised the British Waterways working boat "Sagitta" to be moored up by the factory and filled the boat with photo's of Stewarts and Lloyds when it was all working, Public could go onto Sagitta to veiw all of this.
Most of the Saturday was spent towing joeys around to create a busy and bussling scene. On the Sunday we had the parade of the five tugs coming into Hawne Basin, winding and reversing against the towpath infront of the club house to the applause of many hundreds of spectating public.
Just towing Electra into Gorsty Hill Tunnel.
Bittell towing Joey boats through the Northern Portal of Gorsty Hill Tunnel.
Bittell towing 2 joeys just coming out of Gorsty Hill Tunnel, The wall of Stewarts and Lloyds factory on the left. Jan all alone steering the 2 joey boats.
A Busy Scene ! Tug2 (Argol) on the left while Tug 4 (Pacific) is pushing it's way through the joey boats, and Tug 1 winding around at the top of the photo.
Tug 5 (Bittell) on the inside, Tug 4 (Pacific) on the outside. Both moored up just by the coal loading bay where both the tugs would have delivered their coal to the hungry furnaces.
All five tugs together at last. from left to right...Tug 1, Tug 2 (Argol) Tug 3 (Vesta) Tug 4 (Pacific) Tug 5 (Bittell). May 2007.
The Stewarts and Lloyds Plaque for the weekend.
In March 2008 we were offered a joey boat to go with Bittell. After close examination Dudley Canal Trust decieded to do a deal with British Waterways to get this useful boat.
After a few weeks of negotiations a five year lease was agreed. The following weekend saw a work party turn up at Hillmorton Locks, Rugby,to winch the joey out of the bottom of a dissused canal. After pumping the rain water out of the inside of the boat, the boat was jacked up and planks were put underneath with rollers between the bottom of the boat and the top of the planks. A winch was attached to the bow of the boat and moving one inch at a time the joey boat was starting to go towards the Upper Oxford Canal. This process took two days before the boat got into the water and floated. Francis Stapleton bought "Nutfield" down to us so the joey could be towed to Braunston. The Flying Scott stayed at Brauston for a few weeks before another lift was aranged. Bernard Hales with Enterprise No1 collected the joey boat and bought it up to the Midlands and into the Black Country Living Museum. Another workpary was aranged fairly quickly to get the boat de-rusted and painted black. A rudder was also made so to make the boat eaiser to steer on a long line. The Tug Gathering at the BCLM was it's fisrt event during the May Day Weekend 2008.