Photo Gallery

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This section is a collection of photographs of the yard and the Allen's. They were taken over a number of years by either Arthur East who was a carpenter at the yard for many years, or by Roy Kenn who like many, had a boat built by the Allen's and ended up having a life long friendship with the Allen's as well as the boat.

Further photograph's of the yard when Les Allen was still alive come from the collection of Max Sinclair who has kindly allowed them to be viewed on this site.

For many onlookers this section is going to appear strange. Many of the previous articles on this site have tried to explain the yard and its characters. The following photos show what it looked like: it did not look much but forgive us who knew the place in real time it was special and still means a lot to us.

The gallery is in sections to speed up down loading time. Click on each section to open up.

Click on any photograph to enlarge.

If any boats or people that are unknown can be identified by yourself please write or E mail and the info will be included:-


Arthur's Collection

The Early Days

Breach Spring 1988

The Workers

Boats & Lorries don't Mix

Walking with a boat on a crane

Can you name a boat or person

Last boats to leave the yard

Waiting to leave

Roy's Collection

The Kenns with the Allens

Arthur's Farewell

The Yard

Inside the sheds

The Workshops

Views from around the Yard

More Boats

Gallery Additions

The Allens did advertise after all

Nothing stands still: The yard in 2006

More photographs of the building of an Allen Boat

Max Sinclair's Collection: Early years at the yard

Les Allen

Lady Hatherton: The building of her new hull by the Allens

Les Allen: Letters re order

Arthur's Collection

.1. Bob Allen on the far left with an unknown couple between Bob and Arthur East on the right. Date taken unknown but shows the area near the smaller of the two arms at the yard and the land on to which Albert Brooke's workshop was finally built.

Bob Allen & Arthur East

.2. Same area as above probably taken same time. Show's early picture of Arthur's boat "Chanterelle" moored in the arm. Arm did extend back to the building line and was full of sunken wooden boats. One can just be seen to the right of "Chanterelle". Other steel boat in picture unknown.

Chantrelle in Small Arm

Breach Spring 1988

.3. The next three photograph's taken in Spring 1988 following a breach on the Old Main line. All the boats at the yard ended up on the mud. First photo shows yard before the large shed and paint shop built. Just the corner of a temporary plastic covered shed built on the drive area of the yard can be just seen.

Breach Spring 1988

The two grey boats sitting on railway sleepers on the bank in the area where the large shed/paint shop would be built are unknown to date. The boats on the mud: Three at the very back are unknown.

Next line: Left to right "Morning Glory":Unknown boat:"Chantrelle".Front line:All boats unknown to date except second from right that has been identified by her new owners as "The Answer". Recognised by her unsual arrangement of three mushroom vents in a triangular pattern just forward of her rear hatch.

Breach Spring 1988

Last photo in this section shows the Old Main Line looking towards Whimsey Bridge as it was(Bridge replaced in 1996). The black boat is unknown. The boat in the fore ground is an Allen boat built for a doctor who came from the Manchester Area. The boat was never completely finished at the yard and remained in this stage right up untill the yard closed. It is seen in many shots in both grey and green undercoat paint. The tug on the outside in the colours of Stewart and Lloyds with out any sign writing is believed to be "Reginald" a converted joey (No 95) from Coombswood. As a joey she was bought by Peter and Glenda Westley both early BCNS members and converted into a tug by Dennis Cooper.
See BCN Tugs section in main gallery for more on tugs.

Breach Spring 1988

The Workers

.4. The next four photograph's are of some of the poeple who worked at the yard from time to time.

.Top photograph is of a trio of charactors: From left to right - The late Albert Brookes, Bob Allen, and with his back to the proceedings Jim Horton.

Allens workforce

Next photo: John Horton seen on a launch day about to remove the lifting cables from an unknown Allen boat that had just been launched. John is the brother of Jim. John worked with the Allens until nearly the end of the yard. Towards the end much of the heavy fabrication work on the boats was done by John who finally left he yard and know build boats himself. His boats are probably the nearest in style and shape to an Allen boat you will get today. Primarily because John built boats with the Allens for so long.

John Horton

Next photo: The late Albert Brookes with his son Martin. Taken during the last few days at the yard. Working on the doctors boat that has changed colour. Making it ready so that it could leave the yard under its own steam.

Albert & Martin Brookes

Final photo in this section: John Allen standing in front of the last two boats at the yard. "Ellen" is on the left. Taken on a full working day in 1997 hence the smart appearence.

John Allen

Boats & Lorries don't Mix

.5. Two photographs of a very spectacular day at the yard. On Saturdays all of the Hollaways lorries would come back into the firm about dinner time and park up totally surrounding the boats in the arms. One saturday all of the wagons came in and most of the drivers left. After being left for sometime one of the fully loaded wagons rolled backwards down a grass bank and the trailer of the unit landed on the front of a boat. The trailer pushed the bow of the boat into the mud lifting the stern completely out of the water. The "T" stud on the front of the boat pierced the floor of the trailer locking both together. The lorry had to be unloaded and a crane brought in to lift the trailer off the boat.

Lorries & Boats not mix

The owner had a few anxious moments when the crane lifted the two vessels up still locked together, as the stern of the boat was now pushed into the water. The owner suddenly remembered as this was happening that his weed hatch was not fitted properly. It was feared that the boat would be filling with water, but just at that moment the "T" stud came away from the trailer and the boat righted its self. The "T" stud was perfect after the event and to this day still has'nt fallen off.

Inspecting the Damage

Walking with a Boat on a Crane

.6. Two photographs showing Arthur's boat "Chantrelle" in 1995 being craned out of the water and swung between the sheds to be placed onto sleepers next to the large shed.


Many boats where placed in that spot to have all sorts of work carried out on them. The yard on occasions had every available space full with boats being worked on by the Allens or thier owners.

Walking with a Boat on a Crane

In the first picture are John and Bob Allen with John Horton: The late Albert Brookes is on the boat and standing watching the proceeds is the late John Hollaway with Jim Horton.

Can you name a boat or person

.7. An undated photograph of the yard. Shows the larger of the two arms and again before the large shed/paint shop was built. The boats on the bank are again on railway sleepers and are unknown. The rest of the boats and people in this picture are unknown.The building being dismantled/or built in the back ground was a factory on the other side of the canal.

Can you name a boat or person

Last boats to leave the yard

.8. The first picture shows "Ellen" the very last boat to be built at the yard being pulled and lifted out of the shed

Last Boat Built

The rest of the photographs show "Ellen" being lifted and placed onto a low loader to be taken away to be fitted out.

Ellen being Lifted
Being lowered onto Lorry

The last photograph shows the other boat that was lifted and launched that last day. The boat had been standing on railway sleepers just in front of the main shed. It is believed that this boat remained at the yard to be fitted out having been built by a friend of John Horton, with his help and guidance?.

The Last Boat to be Launched

Waiting to Leave

.9. The last of Arthur's pictures shows on the last day all the boats still at the yard waiting to leave for the last time.

The grey boat is again the last boat to be launched by the Allens, having been launched. Blue boat is "Blue Magnolia" a Charlie Cox built boat that was finished off by the Allens when Charlie ceased trading leaving her unfinished. She was later lenghtened by the Allens and is very much an honary Allen boat. Next is "Morning Glory" in her new colours.She appears in some shots in her former livery of Yellow/Brown. Blue and Grey boat is David Smiths boat "DAJO". Dave built this boat himself, it looks like an Allen as Bob and John gave Dave all the help he needed to make a true Allen replicia. Behind is "Hecla" and "Hawthorn".

Last Day:Boats Waiting to leave

Roy's Collection

The Kenns with the Allens

.1. First photograph is of Roy Kenn with Bob and John next to Roy's boat "Placidus": taken on the last day at the yard. Roy like many of us on that day left the yard and travelled to a new marina near Penridge. We tried to stimulate our sense of community at the new place but it was not the same.Many of us left and finally found the next best thing at Hawne Basin.

Bob & John Allen with Roy Kenn

Joan Kenn with John and Bob Allen pictured inside "Placidus". Taken on the last day at the yard, work was still being done clearing the site hence the overalls.

Joan Kenn with Bob & John

Arthur's Farewell

.2. Arthur East with his wife, along with Arthurs son Simon and his wife (Simon's on the tiller). About to leave the yard on the last day, seen backing out of the Paint shop having just completed a complete re paint of "Chanterelle". Arthur had brought his boat to the yard for re-painting. Had moored in the early years at the yard but left for a mooring on the Staffs and Worc's canal a good number of years ago.

The Easts say goodbye to the yard

The Yard

.3. Photograph of yard a few weeks from the end. "Ellen" can be seen in the large shed. The small dog seen sitting on the top of a boat belonged to John Stone who was the owner of the boat "Gloucester John". John left the yard and went to a mooring at Middlewich and has since sold the boat on.

The Yard near the End

.4. The next two photographs are again of the yard showing the sheds. The equipment is being sold off but the metal saw is still outside the first shed.

The Workshop

Albert's JCB can be seen across the end of the drive, it was kept at the yard and was used to lift many items. Here it had just been used to remove some of the machines out of Alberts workshop.The workshop made out of wooden boats is the first shed the Tea shed is the last one just before the JCB.

The same view of the shed at the end, emptied of all items. Shed later burn'nt by new owners.
The Workshop at the End

The land at the rear of Alberts workshop and the end of the small arm had always been used as a dumping ground. The area was full of sunken boats that for years had been hidden. At the end the area was full of all the discarded items from the yard prior to the area being cleared.

The Rubbish Area

Inside the Sheds

Inside the famous Tea room. John Allen seated alongside Colin Cartwright former owner of "Pasadena", both enjoying a chat and a cup of tea. Just between the tray of cups and the Teapot (Now resident as a flower pot in Barry Johnsons garden) can be seen the remains of a plate of scones. Each weekend Joan Kenn would bring a tray of home made scones to the yard. The scones would be devoured by all, very few being left by the end of the weekend.

The famous Tea Shed
Barry's garden 2003: Listed monument?

Bob and John practised a democracy concerning the seating arrangements in the shed at break times ie first come got a seat. But if you tried to sit in the corner seat when John Horton came in or sit in the seat next to the tea ern when Albert and his dog Tiny came into the shed.( In the shot the ern is out of position, its in the place Alberts seat usually was. The ern would be just out of shot nearer the door) If Albert or John did not move you Tiny would soon shift you. Tiny was true boaters dog, a sheep dog by breed and upbringing, she had no tail losing it in the exposed flywheel of a boat engine when a pup, or so the tail goes.There was no running water on the yard the only tap being in the workshop of Hollaway's Transport. This was where the ern was filled a job that got delegated to the newest owner on the yard.

The Tea ern
The way in

The Workshops

The Old shed made out of the old bottoms and sides of wooden working boats was a throw back to the very beginnings of the yard when the area was owned by Thomas and Samual Elements. The brothers along with thier father Les once worked for Elements who ran and maintianed a fleet of wooden working boats.

The work bench

Inside the shed hung all kinds of hand tools used in the building of wooden boats long since redundant. The few machines at the yard other than Alberts lathe etc where housed in the shed. A pillar drill machine and a circular saw for cutting wood were the only machines here. The rest of the floor and roof space was crammed full of all the bits and pieces left over from the building of hundreds of boats. Any left over space was used to store any item that could'nt be left outside.

This piece of canal history was sadly lost when the new owners of the yard burn it when clearing the yard. It should have been in a musuem.

On the wall was the electric supply

Views from around the Yard

View of the Old Main line towards Whimsey Bridge. This shows the old bridge that was demolished and replaced with the present bridge in about 1996. Boats in the picture are:The yellow boat " Morning Glory": Boat in Red undercoat "Placidus":The boat or boats behind are unknown.

Towards Whimsey Bridge

"Placidus" again in her undercoat moored next to "Glenfield" that is out of the water. This was Albert Brookes boat that was built and then later lenghten at the yard. John Stone is the person leaning into the boat. All of the other boats have not been identified as yet.

More boats afloat and beached

"Placidus" once again in the paint shop. John Horton was the person who painted most of the boats at the yard, the boat has had a sprayed undercoat prior to the topcoat. The paint shop still exists to day and is still in much demand.

Paint Shop

More Boats

John Allen standing on the stern of "Albatross" Dave Dent & Anne Tilmans boat.The boat behind moored to the bank is Jim Hortons boat: On the very outside just in view is B.W boat "Atlas" with Mike Freemans former boat "Gower" alongside a red undercoated boat that has not to date been identified. "Morning Glory" in her original colours is alongside "albatross".

More Boats

Same view as above but with different boats. This shows that no one had a particular mooring the boats being moved around as and when people left or arrived or on launch day. The boat moored is "Glenfield" with "Gower" outside her and alongside Gower an unknown boat to date. The boat in the fore ground is a boat that is seen on many photographs. Sometimes painted grey at other times green. It was built by the Allens for a Doctor from Manchester. It was never finished at the yard finally in 1997 being made ready to move under its own steam in 1997 when the yard closed. It is believed to be in the Manchester area.

Same view different boats

Numerous boats in the small arm again showing a boat on sleepers next to the larger shed. At the very back on the outside is Ray Shelleys tug that was sold and is know called "Albion". All of the other boats are unknown except for that boat "Placidus" again in the fore ground.

Even more Boats

John Allen seen chatting with Barry Johnson. I bet this is a Saturday and the pair are listening to the radio, Barry waiting for the Albion score and John for the Villa result. John is standing on " Pasadena" and Barry on his boat "White Locks". The brickwork on the far side of the cut behind the lads shows very clearly where the one entrance to the Oldbury Loop once was. The canal then ran throught the centre of Oldbury returning to the Old Main Line well the other side of High Bridge.

Yet even more Boats

In the fore ground Dave Smith on "Dajo" a boat built to Allen specs by Dave himself. In paint shop "Pasadena" next to "Glenfield" all of these boats have now pasted to new owners. Inside of "Dajo" is "Blue Magnolia". This photo shows the general move around required either on a launch day or sand blasting day or just when a boat at the very front wanted to get out.

Boats on launch Day

Gallery Additions

The Allens did advertise after all

Some where in this site it has been stated with great pride that the Allens never had to advertise. Well like any statement made with such firm commitment (usualy by a politician) some hack will find a piece of evidence that disproves the fact.

So it was that Roy Kenn the source of many a photograph and memory of the yard, approached me one day and produced the advert you see alongside that shattered the statement. In defence it was in a Staff & Worcs Canal Society Boat Rally magazine from the late 1970's, so does it really smack of mass advertising.

But never the less the myth has been exposed, thanks Roy.

P.S I wonder if the garden furniture company is still operating? I could do with some furniture like that.

Mass Avertising

Nothing stands still: The yard in 2006

The yard did stand still for years after the Allens left, a new community of boats took over, the workshop made from old boat bottoms went almost immediately as did the tea shed,but apart from that the yard stayed much the same. Gone of course was the daily hum of a working boat yard but the big work shop were the boats were constructed in the later years stood intact if empty.
In 2006 the big workshop was finally taken down the steel construction beds removed and the area leveled. Today the area is used to park lorries, but the paint shop remains standing as it is still used to service boats.

Paint shop remains Lorry park

Still standing on the edge of the water today alone but once at the back of the shop is a single telegraph pole the last remaining pole of a series that carried the electrical supply to the yard from Whimsey Bridge. If you ever speak to Barry Johnson or the Allens they can tell you a few tales about that supply system, Health and Safety what is that all about then.

Tree and pole remain

The canal frontage to the yard and the general area from the yard to Whimsey Bridge has changed dramically. The land next to the yard between the bridge and the yard always had industrail buildings on it. Various companies over the years traded there but the area remained the same.
Today the industry has gone as is the case everywhere. The building have been renewed and turned into a Aquatic and Garden centre, with a car park and seating area next to the canal. The canal frontage has been landscaped with fountians and yards of gravel, with the waters edge being reinforced with larger rocks. A landing stage has been placed so that boats can now stop and visit the centre, but the most interesting feature is a cafe stroke restaurant serving the centre, called the Valencia Cafe it really rings the changes to this area.
Barges to Baguettes a real sign of the times

Valencia Cafe New frontage with landing stage

More photographs of the building of an Allen Boat

Photographs of the building of Martin O'KEEFFE's boat Hecla, by kind permission of Martin. These photographs can be enlarged if required by clicking on the photo, and supplement the photographs in the building of an Allen elsewhere on this site. Photographs in that section are of poor quality due to being copied from an even poorer video, and will not stand enlarging.

The base plate laid on the steel bed frame that ensured a level base to the hull. The small electric trolley with the cutting torch attached was used on a track and cut the ends of the base plates square to one another. A bevel then being ground on the edge of each plate to form a V when to two plates were put together, the V allowing a stronger weld joint to be made.
With the base plates together the knees were welded in place along with the kelson the heavy girder down the middle of the boat. The steel sides were winched up to the knees and welded in place.

Bottom plate Knees on bottom plate

With all of the above done attention turned to the forming of the bows and then the stern. In these shots the bow plate, the very front of the bow can be seen lying on the base plate, pre bent to the requiried shape. The two sides can be seen that will form the bows. Just after the last knee before the bow the side plates are cut down so as to be able to weld another plate onto the top of the side plates to form the angled top section to the bows.

Kelson and bow ready to be fitted Sides await to be formed into the bows

The under construction, note the angled sides to the bow described before and how they are formed. The thin steel plates are welded onto the top of the hull sides and knees to form the gunwhales.
In the second photo the bows have had the rubbing strakes added and all the fine detail added. The water tank is seen to have been built just in front of the bows, ready to be sent away to be galvanised inside and out prior to fitting into the boat below the front deck.

Bow under construction Bow with water tank

The stern of the boat is formed in a similar way. The side plates prior to lifting and welding to the knees have had a long cut along thier lenght to form two flaps each side. The bottom sheets are welded together on the rear edge to form the swim of the hull. The base plate has also been cut to form the swim, the cut section lying on the floor.

Stern flaps awaiting the pre bent stern section.

A feature of all Allen boats was the swim, the bottom side plates when welded being lifted and a long trianglur sheet of steel added. This gives the hull its up lift at the rear and gives the propellor more water and allows bigger props to be fitted, also causing the side plates to lean out from the base plate . This up lift is also built into the rest of the hull at gunwhale hieght with the cabin following the line and gives the boat its charactistic upsweep at the back.

Stern fillet:and base plate

The cut off section of the base plate is then lifted and welded to both the swim plates and the upper plates that form the stern. A pre rolled stern section is welded onto the rear of the plates forming the shape of the stern.
The stern nears completion as the excess metal is cut off the base plate and the rubbing strakes are welded around the stern.

Base plate lifted up Rubbing strakes fitted

The rudder post is fitted into the stern and the cants are made with various details added, like the two depressions just in front of the rudder post.
The job of bending the rubbing strakes around the stern is achieved by welding L shaped pieces of metal to the hull and driving a metal wedge between the strake and the attached bracket. This bends the strake welding to the hull as you go, with further brackets added until the strake is completely bent, a time consuming job.

Rudder post fitted plus detail

The cabin of this boat a replicia BCN Tug is shorter than a normal boat. The cabin sides appear to have been lifted onto the boat without any cabin formers fitted to the hull. Normally a series of frames made up from angle would be welded to the hull that would form the shape of the cabin sides. The cabin sheets being lifted and welded to the frames, but in this example as can be seen in both photographs these frames appear not to have been fitted prior to the sides being lifted. In the second photo the engine beds can be seen to have been fitted. The cabin sides and roof would have had strenghening frames fitted with wooden battens attached so the lining to the boat could be scewed to the battens. The front and rear bulkheads would also be fitted before the boat shell was finished.

cabsides interior towards stern

When finished the hull would be pulled out of the shed and placed on railway sleepers to rust. A strange thing to the un trained eye, to allow a new boat to rust, but it is the most effective way to remove the mill scale a hard surface finish caused by the rolling process in the steel mill. If this scale is not removed paint will not fully adhere to the metal causing many problems later on, the rust breaks it down a then when the rust is removed the paint has a solid surface to adhere to.
The yard almost looks like a Christmas card scene with snow on the boats.

To rust Almost a christmas card scene

After the rust has done its job and in this case the shell sand blasted, paint is applied to both hull and cabin and the boat is then launched. Ballast is put into the boat so that the boat sits right in the water, you usually then spend the next few months as you fit the hull out removing the ballast as the boat gradually gets heavier.
This photograph of Hecla was taken shortly after the yard had closed, Hecla being one of the few boats that stayed at the yard. She finally cruised a massive distance to her next berth at Oldbury Boat Services one bridge away.


Max Sinclair's Collection: Early years at the yard

Les Allen

One of a few pictures in the public domain of the great man himself "Les Allen". A very skilled craftsman is seen here working on the replacement hull for the Lady Hatherton

Les Allen with the Lady Hathertons new hull

Lady Hatherton: The building of her new hull by the Allens

The yard at Oldbury when Les was still alive was probably one of just a handful of yards in the country who could undertake full restoration work on old wooden boats. Restoration then was not the funding fuelled work it is today, private owners had to fund such projects themselves so price and quality of work were very important. Thus the job of completely rebuilding the hull of Lady Hatherton was given to the yard by Max. In view here is the stem post under construction.

Stem post of the Lady

The Lady was still just afloat her old hull rotten as pears but her cabin was sound so it was decided to lift the cabin off the old hull and place onto a new hull. To have just cut off the cabin on dry land would have probably destroy it, as it would have been put under stess with no support. So Les got his ruler out and took many measurements of the old hull, left the Lady as she was and went away to build a new hull from his jottings.. In view here is the stern of the new hull.

Stern of the Lady

So the new hull was built in the yard out in the open. Les and the brothers John and Bob following the measurements, confident in themselves that every thing would fit. In this view Les is again pictured walking between the new Lady and a steel hull under construction. It is believed that the steel hull was if not the first was certainly one of the first steel hulls to be built at the yard.

Lady beside Ist steel Allen with Les

In this photograph the yard and the surrounding area can be seen. No sheds or shelter from the elements in the area of the boats just the old shed seen in the previous photo. Max informs us that of interest is one of the boats in the back ground. In the list of Allen boats can be found reference to a butty 'Exe' brought to the yard by Mike Freeman who had the Allens shorten her and then motorise her with a new stern. In her orginal form she was a blue top, her cargo area being covered by inter locking fibreglas lids instead of the more normal canvas. It was an attempt to speed up and modernise loading and unloading in the dying days of commercial traffic. In this photograph Exe can be seen awaiting her transformation.

Lady Hatherton on the bank

In this photograph the yard can be seen from the other direction, the Lady seen full lenght and the steel hull under construction. That hull had yet to have in her design the Allen look, this developed over many more hulls and time.
The story of the Lady is legend. The new hull was launched and taken to the old Lady who by know had been prepared in a lock. In the lock the old cabin was carefully sawn off the old hull and rested on planks laid across the lock. The lock was emptied and the old hull just fell away and was floated out. The new hull was then floated in and raised in the lock to meet the original cabin. To everyon's joy and surprise the two fitted perfectly, Les is reported to have just sucked on his pipe and walked off as it came as no surprise to him.

Yard: Lady Hatherton: 1st Steel Allen under construction

Les Allen: Letters re order

Sent to us by the previous owner of Somerton an early 1969 boat, are two letters certainly signed by Les Allen if not all in his hand writing. The first letter is Les setting out the price of a hull in 1968 and the hours the yard was open so the customer could come and discuss the order.
The next letter is from Les confirming the order for the hull and asking for the requiried deposit. Niether letter is dated but the owner remembers it was 1968, and when the hull was started in 1969, Les had died and all further dealings were with Bob and John.
More about Somerton can be found in the Allens List, the first owner now wondering where she is after selling her.

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