HISTORY on G.U.C.C.Co SAGITTA.
1962. Bill Littern and his Wife tieing Sagitta up at Norbury Junction with a load of coal aboard.
"Sagitta" Is a Grand Union Star Class boat, Built in 1935 by Yarwood's of Northwich situated on the banks of the River Weaver. Sagitta was built alongside it's butty "Serpen's",Constructed with a composite hull (Steel sides and wooden bottom) at
71ft6" long and a 7ft wide beam with a 3ft draught to the rear skeg when unladen.
The original engine was a Russell Newbury D.M.2.
The boat was deliverd to the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company Limited on the 20th June 1935. The G.U.C.C Co. ltd named this special fleet after Star Signs, so
"Sagitta", which is latin for arrow (Sagittarius is the Bow !) was born. It's fleet number was 80, Mr Fredrick Webster was put in charge as "Master of the boat".
Sagitta was registired at Brentford on the 3rd Sepember 1935 with the Reg No 526.
Sagitta moored up at Wheeton Aston Lock with an empty boat 1963. You can see the face of Mrs Littern in the cabin.
In Febuary 1944, Sagitta was reported as being moored for some time at Saltley Dock. Upon furthur close investigation the boat was found to be in a poor state with no engine and partly SUNK!
On the 14th September 1944 Sagitta was listed as NOT being active in the G.U.C.C. Co ltd Fleet.
1st January 1948. The whole fleet of boats registired with the G.U.C.C.Co ltd were
Nationlised! This is when British Waterways (South Eastern Division) took over Sagitta. The boat was painted in the famillier British Waterway's livery of Blue and Yellow, it was about this time that a new engine was fitted, a 29.5 HP twin cylinder
air cooled Lister with a Blackstone gearbox.
During the 1960's Bill Littern and his Wife lived and worked Sagitta around the canal
system delivering such goods as coal etc.
Sagitta at Barbrook Junction with a load of pilings onboard, also towing a butty. 1976.
Then in 1974 Sagitta when into the British Waterways Maintanance Fleet, where she would be used for delivering large cargo's of piling's up and down the Shropshire Union Canal. the boat could been seen moored at Norbury Junction overnight.
In 1982 Sagitta was laid up again and stood for some time in the Wides at Nantwich.
It was put up for sale. Pete Harrison was interested in buying the boat off British Waterways, so he put in a bid for the boat, it was turned down by Sir Frank Price who was the Chiarman of British Waterways at the time.
In 1991 Sagitta was taken over by Staffordshire County Council on a British Waterway's lease agreement. The council spent a lot of money having the boat converted into a floating class room. The engine was moved further back to the stern so that a complete new boatmans cabin could be built where the engine used to be.This was to enable the children to visit a working boatmans cabin without falling off the rear counter (health and safety you see)
The hold was also converted with soild boards (clothed over) to make a rigged roof. The whole boat was fitted with central heating and main's power then filled with desk's and chairs, the boat was re-painted green all over, then Sagitta was paired up with the Butty "Carina". Both boats went to many event's around the Stafforshire canal's with school partys learning the way of life on the canal's.
Sagitta breaking ice on the Shropshire Union Canal at Barbridge Junction.
In 2003 Staffordshire county council gave Sagitta back to British waterways. The boat had some steelwork done on the hull, the wooden composite floor of the hull was removed and a new floor for the hull was hot rivoted in with new knee's fitted as well. The boat cabin livery was also changed from the green paint job back to the Blue and Yellow livery of British Waterways. The boat
ended up in the fleet of the "Friends of the Working Boats" and was seen around most of the local B.C.N. Canal events.
On the 25th June 2009, Dudley Canal Trust took over the control of the boat with the intention of taking Sagitta to canal rally's around England promoting the history of D.C.T and the boat trips that go into Dudley Tunnel and the Limestone Mines.
Sagitta's mooring will be at the Black Country Living Museum, where she will be opened up for School party's and used for education perpouses.
D.C.T. Have Sagitta on a Five year lease from British Waterways and are responsible
for all the looking after and maintanance of the boat.
This is how Sagitta looked when Stafforshire County Council used her. Moored at Norbury Junction.
25th June 2009. The hand over of key's from Jessica Black of British Waterways, Steve and Vic take over the boat and bring it back from Icknield Port to the BCLM.
June 2009, Gavin Lawson steering Sagitta, Deepfields Junction, Cosley.
August 2009. Steve started work on Sagitta, by flatting the old paintwork down.
After a committee meeting to deciede the work program for Sagitta, I was commissioned to do the work needed to get the boat up to scratch.
I started by stripping all the old Blue and Yellow paintwork off the cabin. Having to do some welding in places, mainly to make the cabin more secure. I removed the old vents off the rear of the cabin because they looked like the sort of vents that you see
on a fridge freezer ! I made up and welded on a letterbox G.U.C.C.Co style vents.
After all the welding had been completed, three coats of red oxide was applied to the cabin, the paint on the rear counter was also stripped off. The tiller swan neck was bent out of shape, So I applied some heat to straighten it out. Again the rear counter was undercoated with red oxide.
I moved down to the bow next and started stripping the paint off, removing the rotted stand that held the headlight in place, it was decieded to fit the headlight into the front cratch. Inside the bow locker was in a bit of a state as well, I remember scraping out a whole full bucket of rust out of this area ! Again severel coats of red oxided was applied, then painted with white gloss to brighten it up inside. The rest of the bow had three coats of red oxide as well.
Whilst things were drying off, I had to sort out several problems that had developed in the engine and gearbox. I also made a new steel cover to go over the moving pullys.The engine was seviced and cleaned up, plus painted in Lister green paint. In the meantime I got Gary of "Net's and Covers" from Stourbridge to come and give us a quote to re-cloth the boat, this he did and came down a few weeks later to fit the new cover on with new zipped up doors.
The twin cylinder air cooled Lister, 29.5 hp with it's Blackstone gearbox.
The Committee had decieded that the colour scheme for Sagitta would be the red,white and blue livery which was one of the current liverys of the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company Ltd in 1936.
I used a gloss enamel paint which is normally slow drying so it was important to pick the right day to start painting. So a perfect day was found in September to start top coating.
I decieded to use a roller to apply the red base coat. The next day the paintwork was rubbed down with wet & dry and another coat applied. The cabin ended up having three good coats of base red enamel paint. I did leave it a week to dry off hard.
After a week, I had to wait for some good weather again before Sagitta was masked up ready for the blue enamel paint to be applied, again the paint was rubbed down inbetween coats and again three coats of blue was applied. The next job was to paint other parts of the boat like the rear conter and the bow area. The Hull was also blacked down to the water line.
So there it is, all finished, only the signwriting to be done now. (15th September 2009)
Dave Perks from "Signs and Symbols" came to the BCLM working boat gathering on the last weekend in September 2009 to demonstrate the art of signwriting, Sagitta was a perfect model ! As there were a lot of words to be painted on the cabin, it took Dave around three day's to complete the job.