There is much debate about the origin of the distinctive 'Rose & Castle' decorations associated with narrowboats and particularly with the 'Number Ones' whose preferred boatbuilders were often the Nursers.

William was a respected painter as well as builder.  In tracing the history of the Braunston 'Rose & Castle' decorative tradition, it is worth noting that William's first wife, Clara Deakin White, was the daughter of Charles White who was tailor and shop keeper at Braunston Stop and neighbour to Arthur Atkins, the painter whose work had caught the eye of Charles Dickens.  (See The Boatyard page.)  It is unlikely William would have been unaware of Atkins' work.

In the Census of 1901, Frank, aged 15 is already identified as a boat painter.  His reputation as one of the very finest exponents of the art was a major factor in the fame of the boatyard.  He also trained a number of outstanding apprentices, listed opposite.  Experts such as Tony Lewery and Robert Wilson have explored this subject in great detail.  Chris M. Jones has examined the art of narrow boat sign writing and his analysis can be found here.

All of the Nursers would have turned their hand to all aspects of building and decoration.  More evidence of Charles Nurser’s painting ability can be found here.

G&W 2 (1)

Photo: Graham Nurser  

Braunston Stool of the twentieth century.  Painter unknown.  In possession of Christine Wood.  


Photograph: Graham Nurser

Water Can and moneybox stools (for his grandchildren Alison and Donald) by Frank Nurser

Stool by Charles Nurser for his grandson Graham

Tray and stool probably by George Crowshaw

Photograph: Graham Nurser

A ‘Nurser’ anchor on Winston II  at Gas Street Basin Birmingham 30.03.1982

     © Graham Nurser 2012