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5th Sept 1938

Bridgewater Canal
 Identified as between Agden and Outrington bridges near Lymm.

(Skipper George Estcourt photo taken by his son Charles)


Built by W.J. Yarwood & Sons of Northwich, yard number 443, in 1934 for W.H. Cowburn & Cowpar Ltd of Manchester.

Dimensions: 70ft 6in x 7ft x 3ft 11in moulded depth (round bilged)

Launched 10th January 1934 – the first all steel boat of the fleet of motor boats named after birds.

Originally Fitted with a Gardner 4VT single cylinder 12h.p. semi-diesel with Ferry gearbox

Registered at Manchester No. 1121 on 10th April 1934  to comply with the Canal Boat Act of 1877 to allow the crew to live or stay aboard during journeys – up to the three men, or a man and wife and two children aged under 12 years.

Carried general cargoes between Trafford Park, Manchester and the Courtaulds’ factories in Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton, and the Foleshill Road and Little Heath plants at Coventry, as well as short hauls to Stockport and Ashton.  Cargoes included carboys of sulphuric acid, drums of acetone, carbon disulphide, acetic anhydride (to Little Heath), and oils, plus bagged lime and salt, and soda ash (the latter from Lostock Gralam to Little Heath).




(Between 1935/6 steel tanks, 5ft 6in in diameter, were fitted to some of the boats for carriage of carbon disulphide but ‘Swallow’ remained as a general carrier.)

In about 1941 some of the fleet went over to carriage of coal, but from 1942 until August 1946 ‘Swallow’ carried agricultural produce (‘market boating’) one trip a week between Winsford and Castlefield, Manchester for the Ministry of War transport.

Around late 1946/48: the engine was removed (re-installed in another WHC&C craft, possibly ‘Swift’), tanks were installed, and the boat used as a ‘butty’ ( an engineless boat towed by a motor boat as a ‘pair’). This was not a success and she made only one or two trips in this guise, towed by m.b. ‘Snipe’ -Captain Kenneth Wakefield snr.

1948: hired to Bridgewater dept of M.S.C. to be used as a ‘bank boat’. A large foredeck was fitted (tanks removed).

1951: purchased by M.S.C.Bulkhead and door fitted to foredeck to make a locker.

Late 1981: purchased by Drs Roger and Stef Lorenz of Worsley and added to their fleet of boats.   restored/rebuilt, keeping the foredeck,  in 1983. A National 2DM engine (1936 – ex G.U. n.b. ‘Kenilworth’) was installed in 1988 (first trial trip 14th May).  She was  painted in C&C livery (well, ONE of the liveries!) by John Ball in July 1988. 

January 2002:  purchased by the Airedale Barge Co Ltd ( David Lowe of Humber Barges Ltd.) Restoration continued, with foredeck removed, and running gear and decorated deck ( cratch ) board provided (in C&C style) at Langley Mill boatyard. Used as a ‘heritage’ boat for promotion and displays at events etc but could be used for carrying.

Other craft in the fleet were:

Swan,Swift (composite) built 1933


Seagull 1935

Snipe,Starling 1936

The fleet stopped trading in 1956(coal carrying to Trafford Park and Broadheath only from 1951)



5th Sept 1938

Bridgewater Canal
Identified as between Agden and Outrington bridges near Lymm.

(Skipper George Estcourt photo taken by his son Charles)


'The Story of Swallow'

Submitted by David Lowe (the current owner and skipper of Swallow) gives fuller details and acknowledges the help and assistance given by others in accumulating this vast wealth of information.





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