The King Family 

Edward King Harry King

The King family were owner boatmen with a small fleet of boats based around  Berkhampstead and so their operational base was in that area.  Thery carried a multitude of goods but would come up to Warwickshire for the coal loads down to the Paper Mills around Watford; for Dickinsons especially in later years.  The boats were usually docked in the Hertfordshire area but in 1912 the main base they used at Costins closed and FMC at Uxbridge was further south than their main area of work.  It would appear from the family diaries that they had ‘running repairs’ at a number of yards up until that date including Nursers and Thompson at High House near Weedon.

The use of Nursers’ yard appeares to have increased during World War One and afterwards.  With the closure of Costins and the concentration on Dickinson’s contracts they were likely to pass Braunston more often.

Forget Me NotForget Me Not & Nautilus

On the left may be seen Harry’s sons on Forget Me Not.  The photograph was taken at Apsley in 1915.

On the right, Forget Me Not is paired with Nautilus on the same date at the same location.

Click on all photographs to view a larger version.

The Diaries.     

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In the first two extracts, Edward King states that in 1892 he paid ‘Nurser’ for docking and dressing cloths for the boats.  Over the page, also in January 1892 he states that he owed ‘6’ (£6 or 6s?) though he does not say why.  The mention of ice and coal strikes is also of interest.

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In 1912 Harry had repairs carried out in October.  It is unclear why he has inserted an asterisk.  Docking of £3 16s could have been all of this visit and there is no other mention of docking.

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In 1915 Harry had a new chimney and odd things from the yard.  He also had some docking later in the year at Braunston.  It is difficult to see if all the docking costs relate to the details given, or he has added other items.

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In 1920 there was a substantial docking from 23rd June to the 2nd July.  For some inexplicable reason he did not take a change boat as he did with other yards.  Perhaps he fancied a rest for a week!  In October he had some more repairs done.  Docking for the year was £97.  As can be seen from his notes on coal stoppage and strikes, Harry was struggling to make any profit.   At this time he had only one pair of boats so this was a very costly docking of the pair, which was 13 years old by this time.


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In 1921 Harry again had some repairs carried out at Braunston (as well as another 2 yards)so not all of the £27 is from Nursers.  The boats were sold in 1923 to Barlows and Harry retired from long distance boating to move on to day boating for Barlows based at Glascote.

This material, which has provided a fascinating glimpse in to the life of the owner-boatmen, has been generously provided by Chris Jones, whose Great Grandfather was Harry King and is thus descended from both the King and Barlow families.

     © Graham Nurser 2012