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Construction

All of the Nurser boats were of course of wooden construction.   William Nurser was described in the Census of 1891 as both boat builder and painter.  I am not yet aware of the division of labour between elder sons William Thomas and Harry Sidney when they were owners of the yard but after 1928, as Nurser Brothers, Charles was responsible for construction and Frank for decoration.

Charles was keeping a notebook with the measurements of boats for various clients from 1908 (the first entry is 'Croxley' built for W. Smith).  This notebook was kept even when the yard had passed to Barlows in 1941 and the last entry is 'Iona' in 1944.  The last entry for Nurser Brothers is April 1941 when the motor boat 'Prince' was partly finished and the word 'Finis' appears followed by the statistics of his career with Nurser Brothers:

Built 22 Butty Boats

       11 Motor Boats

       3 Fishing Punts

       1 Ferry Boat

       1 Bricklayer's Flat

My understanding is that Charles walked down to the yard to check each boat built even after his retirement.  The only boat not subjected to his scrutiny, due to ill health, was Raymond, the last boat built at Barlows in 1958.

Most of Charles' workings and notebooks were donated by my father to the British Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne where they are sometimes wrongly attributed to Frank.  The donation may well have included a second notebook which is now in the  National Waterways Archive at Ellesmere Port.   This second notebook can be found here.   In addition there are links from the first notebook and the carriers for whom the boats were built.

Frank’s archived material, including the Cash Ledgers for 1932 - 1934, are also to be found at Ellesmere Port.

Of course much of the work at the yard will also have been in repair and repainting.  Boats repaired at the yard but not in Charles’ notebook are to be found here.  This is work in progress and any additional material will be gratefully received.

Although the Nursers were never themselves ‘Carriers’ on the Canal, they did keep ‘Change Boats’ which were loaned to customers whilst their own boats were under repair.  This was the only time  the name ‘Nurser’ appeared on the side of a boat.  Change boats owned by  Nurser Bros were not necessarily built at Braunston.  For example Wey, built by John Griffiths of Bedworth, can be seen in Nurser livery here.  It would be interesting to know the colour scheme used.

     © Graham Nurser 2012