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Boatyard

From the beginning, Braunston boatyard was situated at the centre of the canal system.  In 1788, Pickfords, then a canal based carrying company chose Braunston as its central distribution depot.  It was later to be at the junction of the Coventry, Oxford and Grand Union Canals.  

When William set up his company, trading under the name of William Nurser and Sons in 1875,  he described his company as 'boat builders and tarpaulers, brick, tile and builders' merchants.  In addition he is noted in the Post Office Directory of 1877 as proprietor of 'The Champion', thus following an earlier tradition in the village of also being a Publican.  The proximity of the main London Road and L.N.W.R (later to become the London, Midland and Scottish Railway) must have helped the diversity in his  business interests to flourish and  to survive longer than most canal based businesses.

A microcosm of the work done, at least between 1911 and 1936 can be found in a collection of Invoices and Memoranda detailing the relationship with Charles Nelson & Co. 

The changing styles of headings are to be noted.  William Nurser Snr. had died in 1899 but the Company continued to trade as William Nurser & Sons even though the Senior Partner was eldest son William Thomas and the Junior, the second son, Harry Sidney.  Charles and Frank were employees of their brothers, as was an elder brother, Hedley.  Harry Sidney died in 1909 leaving William as sole owner.  From 21st July  1919 William Thomas handwrites his name on to the letter heading as if to emphasise his sole ownership.  From 12th February 1925 the notepaper has his name printed as part of the heading. This format continues until he retires and the newly founded Nurser Bros notepaper  appears for the first time in this sequence,  18th July 1928 .  The heading now includes  the names of both Charles and Frank as well as the third partner, E.T. (Tom) Hitchman, the Blacksmith.

 The Accounts Ledgers  for Nurser Brothers for 1932 - 1941, kept by Frank, indicate a variety of small sales, especially to Braunston villagers.  They also document the repair work done by the Company both for the main carriers and also the ‘ number ones’ the owner boatmen who often chose Nurser Brothers, both for the quality of the carpentry and the superlative decorative paintwork of which they were so proud.  

A selection of pages from these  Ledgers may be found here.  

Both Invoices and Ledgers are now in the National Waterways Archive at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port.

     © Graham Nurser 2012