Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Vintage Braunston

Seeing this old van outside the premises of Tony Redshaw Vintage Diesels, got me thinking about how narrowboaters always tend to be fond of vintage forms of transport.

It might be the typical age group of your average narrowboater, which makes them, well, a little nostalgic.

This old van, which I believe is a Ford Thames 400E, must date from between 1957 when the marque was launched by the maker, to 1963 when the first "A" plate was introduced.

As the name above the door suggests, Tony Redshaw and his son Paul, specialise in the restoring and marinising of quality vintage diesel engines, particularly Gardners. 

Their premises are located in Braunston, just before you get to Braunston Turn, where Midland Chandlers are located.

Braunston is really a mecca for narrowboating and is up there with Stoke Bruerne and the other biggies.

It's the antithesis of the Fens as a boating area. When we were in the Fens, we hardly saw another boat. When you did, it was an important moment. It was worth calling down to the First Mate in the cabin, to herald the arrival of another fellow traveller to the East Anglian wilderness.

However, in Braunston, it's like the M1 of the canals. A veritable stream of traffic passes you by. A boat is just another boat. 

Not being people who like crowds, we quickly passed through Braunston and entered the nice wide stretches of water just north of the town. They are more reminiscent of the rivers, being not at all canal-like. 


You can see Braunston Church for miles after you leave the turn. It's spire looms over the farmland, tall and gaunt. Quite apt really, when you consider how many working boat families are buried in it's churchyard.

Sorry, I failed to get a photograph of us leaving Braunston, mainly due to the fact that it was hammering it down. However, in true "Blue Peter" fashion, here's one I took earlier (several years earlier actually, on a previous cruise). We've actually been through Braunston quite a few times on Willawaw since she was built in 2003.


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