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Emmanuel Smith & Harry Sidney Nurser


Emmanuel Smith Senior (1826-1900) was born at Brinklow Warwickshire, the son of Peter Smith who is described in the 1841 Census as a ‘boatman’.  By 1861 he is married and living at Braunston in a ‘boat on the water’.  In 1871 he is living in Cross Lane Braunston, a familiar address for boatmen and their families.  His daughter Mary Ann (1869 - 1925)  married Harry Sidney Nurser in 1901 living at The Wharf, Braunston, in the house next door to her widowed step mother in law Mary Ann and her new brothers in law, Charles and Frank.

For Harry Sidney, this is a return home.  Born in 1867, in 1871 he is living with his family in the High Street Braunston.  Interestingly another Braunston boatbuilder of the period, Charles Farringdon, is a lodger.  In 1881, presumably as a result of cramped conditions at home, he is living with his Uncle John (a farm labourer) and Aunt Emma at Lea Marston near Birmingham.  However by 1891 he is back at Braunston Wharf and described as a ‘boatbuilder’.  By 1901 this has become ‘master boat builder’.  With the death of his father in 1899, he is now the junior partner to elder brother William Thomas in owning the company which is still trading as William Nurser & Sons.  His was a relatively brief tenure however as he died on 1st January 1909.

Mary Ann’s elder brother Emmanuel Smith Junior (baptised Sept 1860 when the register describes his father as a coal merchant) went on to found his own canal carrying company and established himself at Brentford where he was one of the pioneers of motor boat carrying.  (See Alan Faulkner’s article in Narrowboat Autumn 2007.)  Two of his boats were named after family members: his sister Mary Ann (1896) and his recently born daughter Rose Ethel (1897)

Her father continued to be based at Braunston.  The 1881 census finds him at the coal wharf Stoke Golding in Leicestershire with John Sharp (servant).  Presumably this means they were working a boat together.  Interestingly, his wife Eliza, at Braunston, is, in the same census, also described as a coal merchant.  In 1891 he is back at Braunston Wharf, a coal merchant and boatman.   He was buried at Braunston Church 1st December 1900.

There was clearly a long standing business relationship between the two families.  In 1879,  one of four narrowboats registered by Emmanuel Smith at Hinckley was Harry.  Harry was probably built by William Nurser and named after his son.  The name also appears in Braunston records with ’steerer, Emmanuel Smith’ appended.  William Nurser & Sons went on to build 6 boats for the company: Brentford and Kingston (1906),  Daventry (1907), Richmond (1909), Rose Ethel (1914), and The Queen (1922).  There is also some evidence of boat repair and second hand business.  On the 5th June 1930 the company was wound up so it is hardly surprising that the newly formed Nurser Brothers  (1928) did not benefit from Emmanuel Smith's patronage.

The Company note book held at Ellesmere port records dimensions of a wide boat Providence built at Braunston.




Emmanuel Smith (dragged)

Photo: The Waterways archive.  Reproduced in Narrowboat magazine  Autumn 2007

Emmanuel Smith’s horse drawn pair Baden Powell and Daventry at Long Buckby


Emmanuel Smith (dragged) 1

Photo: The Waterways archive.  Reproduced in Narrowboat magazine  Autumn 2007

Emanuel Smith’s Daventry, a typical horse boat built by Nurser’s yard at Braunston in May 1907, is seen under way in about 1910.

     © Graham Nurser 2012