Canal Jargon

Canal Jargon "A-M"

ADMIRALTY CLASS BOATS

Some of the last boats built for the British Waterways commercial carrying fleet, 1959 to 1960. Built either by W.J.Yarwood, or Isaac Pimblott of Northwich, all boats were welded and named after Admirals of the Fleet.

ANSER PIN

Positioned on the top stern plank of a butty, below the hatches, or on the stern gunnel of a motorboat, and used for connecting ropes to control or tie up the boat.

BACK CABIN

The cabin at the stern of the boat, usually around 8'6" in length.

BACK END

The space immediately in front of the back cabin of a butty or the front bulkhead of the engine room on a motor boat.

BACK END RAIL

The iron bar with sliding ring fixed to the front bulkhead of an engine room.

BEAMS

The three beams that span the hold and support the mast and two stands.

BEAM BRACKETS

Made of iron and bolted under the gunnel to support the beams.

BLOCKING HOOK

Positioned on a lock side, at the tail of a lock, for a towing line when starting a horseboat out of the lock, giving give a 2:1 reduction, the line running through a pulley on the mast. The towing line drops off the hook as the boat passes it.

BLUE TOPS

All steel welded boats built either by the Thames Launch Works Ltd of Teddington, or E.C.Jones of Brentford. Built between 1957 and 1961, they were all named after 3 letter rivers. The usual boatman's name for these; Dustbin boats! Also used to describe the blue interlocking fibreglass hold covers which were introduced to speed up the task of covering the hold to keep out the weather.

BOLLARD

Used for tying up a boat on a mooring.

BOW LOCKER

The area below the foredeck used for storing ropes etc.

BOW FENDER

Front fender hanging from the T stud. It should lift off easily, and be held with lines that can break if it gets caught on part of a lock, typically under a gate beam.

BRAITHWAITE

A boat built by Braithwaite and Kirk of West Bromwich; typically some FMC butty boats.

BUCKBY CAN

A water can specifically purchased from the lockside shop at Buckby Top Lock.

BULK

A design of cratch board that overhangs the foredeck, made from timber and canvas.

BULKHEAD

A vertical partition that divides the boat into sections.

BUTTY BOAT

Either built as a boat to be towed, or as a horseboat subsequently towed; no engine fitted.

CABIN BLOCK

Sits on the front of a back cabin, and supports the top plank. Usually with castles painted both sides.

CANTS

The timbers at the edge of the counter and foredeck; used as a safety edge and about 2" high.

CHECKING POST

Usually adjacent to locks; used to check or control the movement of a boat.

CHINE

The bottom 10 to 12 inches of a boat side, that is slightly angled in toward the boat centre.

CHINE ANGLE

The angle iron that connects the chine to the boat bottom.

COMPOSITE BOAT

A narrowboat with iron or steel sides to the hull, and a wooden hull bottom.

COUNTER

The rear deck on a motor boat.

COUNTER BLOCK

A large timber that forms the curved shape of the counter on a wooden boat.

CRATCH

The whole wooden structure at the front of the boat, designed to keep water out when the boat is both deeply loaded, and when ascending locks.

CRATCH BOARD

The wooden board that forms the front of the cratch and sits on the deck beam.

CROSS STRAPS

Two lines (typically around 5 ft in length) used to connect an empty butty fore end 'T' stud to the towing motorboat. They pass over the top bends and cross in front of the stem post to fasten to the opposite dollies.

CUTTER

Band of brass across the top of an exhaust pipe to break up the blast from the engine and thus avoid dislodging soot and other debris from the roof of tunnels.

DECK BEAM

A wooden beam across the width of the boat at the rear of the foredeck.

DECK BOARD

See Cratch Board.

DECK LID

The lid on the foredeck to gain access to the bow locker.

DOLLY

Studs (2) mounted on the stern of a motorboat used for tying up and for towing.

FALSE CRATCH

The triangular structure at the rear of the cratch which supports the planks which in their turn support the canvasses and strings.

FLOATS

The horizontal timbers at the top of the blade section of a butty rudder.

FOREDECK

The front deck of a boat usually with a lid for access to the bow locker.

FORECABIN

A small cabin built into the bow locker, usually used by children.

GAS BOAT

Boats owned by Thomas Clayton (Oldbury) Ltd used to transport liquid fuels, typically gas tar.

GUNNELS

Wooden timbers 5" x 2" that form the top of the boat sides to which the side cloths are attached.

HATCHES

The standing area on a horseboat or butty, to the rear of the back cabin, or forward of the counter on a motorboat.

HOLD

The cargo space on a narrowboat between the foredeck and back end.

HOLD BACK

To decrease the boat's speed, even to the point of engaging reverse.

HOLD IN

Steer closer to the towpath.

HOLD OUT

Steer further to the offside.

JOEY

An open day boat used mainly on the BCN canal network.

JOSHER

Boat built for use by Fellows Morton & Clayton Ltd.

KELSON

Continuous timber running the length of the boat on the centre line to join the bottom planks together.

KNEES

Made of iron or wood and joining the side planks together and to the boat bottom.

LOOBY

The pin used for towing at the top of the middle mast which will hinge backwards to release a line if the boat overruns the horse.

MAST

The box mast used for towing a boat and set behind the first deck beam.

MAST BEAM

The wooden beam across the hold that takes the pulling force on the mast.

MAST BOX

A wooden box used to house the middle mast; firmly made in wood with steel straps.

MIDDLE MAST

A sliding section that pulls out of the mast box to increase the height of the looby.

MONKEY'S FIST

A turk's head on the end of a line to assist with throwing it under a bridge.

MOORING RING

Used for tying up a boat at a mooring.

MOP

Resting on the can on the back cabin roof (positioned to glide the tow line of a horseboat to a convenient position to lift over the chimney), painted and with a head made from the remnants of old jackets.

MOTOR BOAT

Boat designed and built to have an internal engine.

This list is not exhaustive. If you can think of any more words or phrases which might usefully be added then please contact the webmaster by e-mail at dr_jimstorey@yahoo.com