Loading Party

Relentless, thats what it is, this coal boat thing. This last weekend saw us loading loads of coal into loads of boats. Loads of other people also turned up. Party time! Loads of beer then……..


The boats loaded, in order of appearance, were Crane, Callisto, Southern Cross, Bletchley, Towcester, Stanton and Bideford. Roach was already loaded and the Narrow-Boat Trust pair, Nuneaton and Brighton had also arrived to be loaded next week. Saltaire was tied up amongst them all, as were Jim and Rosie, freshly wed (congrats, and all that) on Empress. Pete and Julie with Gosport were tied on the yard as well. Tench made an appearance and we mustn’t forget the Monahans on Madeley who complete our list of working and ex-working boats in attendance. Our very own rally then…. Oh! And Browny was here on Touchwood, too. Who could forget him? 


It was a bit intense, but nearly all the loading happened on the Friday with the crews working hard. Above is a selection of loaders for your delectation. Friday night saw a full turn-out in the Bell, where a fine night was had. Some of the team, it seems, needed more drink in them, and so the night continued back at the ranch until nearly daylight. I got a telling-off in the morning - even though it was clearly not my fault.


We finished loading the boats on Saturday morning, and a fine sight it was - looking up the cut. Loaded boats as far as the eye could see.


 Coal-boater of the Year (in his own mind at any rate), and winner of “Best Boat in Show” at this years Braunston Boat Show, Ryan Dimmock (left), shows that his prize-winning smirk is still turned up to full as he helps young Alex to load Bletchley in the sunshine. It is rumoured by the more malicious boater, that Ryan is after a butty to fit out as a trophy cabinet. It also appears that Ryan has developed sophistication…… he was apparently spotted later that night sipping a Pimm’s, although it was mixed with cider, which just about redeems him in the eyes of us plebs.


Time then, to sort out the yard for a party. Putting up marquees is a job for experts, so on we got with it. It turned out that we were not that bad at it, and that volunteering for the Narrow Boat Trust is just the grounding needed for the job. It also turned out that if you are from Rotherham, then you don’t have the grounding. If you are from Rotherham you do, however, have the capacity to drink beer all day long with impunity. Apparently. 


Just when you thought that the Publicity and Advertising floor had given up the ghost, they appeared, with wraith-like stealth, to unveil their latest wheezes at the party. The first of their presentations involved beer - a winner every time in my book. The Ryford Brewing Forge was re-opened and cajoled into making this fine sweet but bitter, dark but light, beery beer. Fantastic! It was well received by the invited trialists, as was any other alcohol that they could lay hands on. Marketing at its finest.

The other presentation was a resurrection of the famous “Concept Cake”, but with a twist. Why not tie in Birthday greetings with cynical promotion? Why not indeed. The baking wing was woken up and charged with revolutionising birthday greetings, and a target identified. Young Fred Taylor was deemed a suitable guinnea-pig, and the cake duly commissioned. This proved to be a resounding success, with Fred not being horrified at all, but getting stuck in straight-away with the biggest knife he could find.


Needless to say, the party went swimmingly, both the Celebration Ale, and the Blue Monkey “Infinity” were finished off early in the proceedings, followed by all other available drinks until, finally, even the lager was attempted by the real dedicated, hardcore topers.


A former mayor of a well-known provincial town is seen here wearing a boat-chimney as a disguise whilst trying to gate-crash the main event. He succeeded eventually, and was almost solely responsible for the early demise of the Blue Monkey barrel. He was later snapped in a compromising clinch with a bassoonist of some note, having abandoned the stove-pipe hat for a jaunty green flat ‘at. Whatever next!


Other revellers amused themselves with a variety of pointy head-gear, metal adornments and bemused looks. Colin does a magnificent bemused look - he must practice constantly.


Thanks to all participants, it was a great weekend. A full recovery is now in progress. © John Jackson 2014