South Staffordshire Narrowboat Co Ltd

 

 

 

National Community Boats Association

Operating the Ernest Thomas II Narrowboat

Providing day trips for the elderly, disabled & youth groups

Bookings: 01902 896 733

 

Ernest Thomas II below The Bratch Locks

South Staffordshire Narrowboat Company
The Queens Award for Voluntary Service

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Ernest Thomas II moored at Dimmingsdale

Ernest Thomas II moored at The Cee-Ders Club Wolverhampton WV3 8JU

©  South Staffordshire Narrowboat Co Ltd 2017 Registered Charity No 1000868

 

Supported by voluntary contributions

 

Member of the National Community Boats Association

History

The late Ernest Thomas, one time Chairman of Walsall Football Club, operated a fleet of working narrowboats throughout the Midlands, carrying coal and other bulk items. In the late 40s Mr Thomas was approached by the then Chairman of Fordhouses Boys’ Club, Mr W J Bradburn, a well known local businessman, with a view to his donating a narrowboat specifically for the use of boys’ clubs in the Wolverhampton/Walsall area. Using items and equipment supplied by local businessmen, Mr Thomas converted an old narrowboat, which he then donated to the local boys’ clubs. For the next 18 years the boat, named “Ernest Thomas”, operated successfully in the area, but became uneconomic to operate after a change in Board of Trade regulations and was sold into private hands. It has since been fully restored, given its original name of “Vulcan” and can still be seen operating in the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1983 an idea was put forward to construct a narrowboat specifically designed for use by the handicapped, disabled and generally disadvantaged. In 1984 a committee of local professional and business people was set up with the primary role of raising the necessary funding, estimated at about £12,000 for an engine and materials. Sufficient to say that the £12,000 was raised from national and local charities, and from the Home Office, which was particularly generous. A labour force of local unemployed persons was recruited by the Staffordshire County Council Community Programmes Agency, and work commenced at the old Kinver Marina site in April 1985.

Following considerable delays (due primarily to the poor summer) the narrowboat was eventually completed and went into limited service in September 1986. Permission was obtained from the widow of Mr Thomas to name the new boat......ERNEST THOMAS II

 

Under constructionat Old Birchills Wharf, Walsall

 

The boat is pulled back to the wharf after the launching

 

The launch of Ernest Thomas at Old Birchills Wharf, 7th May 1953

 

Ernest Thomas standing in the hatch at the launching ceremony

 

 

On the Shropshire Union Canal near to Autherley Junction

 

Ernest Thomas just north of Tettenhall Road Bridge on the Staffs & Worcs Canal

 

Ernest Thomas about to pass beneath Hordern Road Bridge, circa 1956