Home     On to page 7 of The Allen Register

Enquiry and Lost Boat Section

The Register has know been running for a period of time and a number of requests from new owners and previous owners have shown that we have holes in the records of many boats. We/I have been unable to answer some requests so in this section I will highlight the Questions in the hope that someone out there can answer the points and add to our knowledge.
All answers will not identify anybody unless so wished, but any answer will be posted in this section.

For any correspondence please us following E mail

Received recently an email from the previous owner of a wooden top Allen probably built in the 1970's.
The boat was named 'Matilda' powered by a Lister SR2 and was bought in 1981 and brought back to the Allens at Oldbury in 1983 for a steel cabin and have a trad back to replace her original cruiser styled stern.
Was moored in the midlands near Wolverley and was sold on about 15 years ago to we believe the Gloucester area. Her previous owner a Doctor would love to know if she is still about.

Hope to have some photographs of her and a possible BW number. But does anybody out there recognize her today from the brief facts to date.

Request 1..
The relatives of the former owner of a Allen Tug styled boat called ELLINGTON (after the jazz band leader) built in the mid 80's, under 60 ft in length, would like to now if it still exists. The boat has been renamed was powered by a RN Engine, we have no information that we have it in our records under its new name? The relatives have fond memories of the time it was owned by their father and would like to now its still about and used.
For us its BW number and a photo would be great to add to the list?

Request 2..
Previous history of an early Allen today named BLACK 40ft in length. Believed to have had former names of SONRIE, ANDROMIDA. Built about 1973 has a BW number 67227, has much TLC poured over her over many years by her present owner after the elements had taken toll of her wooden top.

Request 3...
Owner of boat named Duke of Lancaster, 56ft, built 1975, BW no 61652.
Just a small query when she was bought had HOO MILL LOCK painted on her, with initials AJH. All have now been removed but any previous history to 2005 especially who or what AJH?

Request 4...
We get many enquiries about the wooden cabin years at the Allens yard, most of the current active members only have the steel tops.
Any general thoughts on these years from present and former owners would be great.
The subject of bus windows keeps cropping up, ie did the Allens fit or was it owner DIY, I am in the process of constructing a piece on this era and would be grateful for any info.
It would appear that the Allens if asked to supply windows would fit bus type windows sourced locally. Many owners supplied their own windows so once again during this period no standard design in the windows area was applied.
Please see section below on Somerton that explains the method of construction of the wooden cabins. Thanks must go to the previous owner of Somerton for the very detailed information.

Change of format in this section with a boat for which the previous owner has supplied more details/history.

Previously name SOMERTON believed when last seen named PRINCESS REBECCA.
Was when built in 1969 46ft long. We have a listed boat named Princess Rebecca on the A to Z list but no contact with her present owner, this boat being 57ft. Is she the same boat lengthen? or does anyone know the whereabouts of her.
Her former owner who had her built at the Allens yard in 1969 has often wondered where she is. Has many fond memories of the boat and has provided us with some history that may be of interest to any new owner.
Was originally ordered in 1968 when Les was still alive and a copy of two letters signed by Les confirming the order have been kindly supplied to us and are to be found in the Gallery section.
When in 1969 construction started Les had died and all further dealings were with Bob and John.
As was common place in those days the original order was for a hull only, wooden tops being the norm. A Lister SR2 with a gearbox with a 2:1 reduction was fitted.
Somerton was built with chined sides ie the hull sides tapered out from both the gun whales and the base plate to a vertical section of steel either side of the water line.
Various modifications were built into Somerton from previous boats (part of the evolution process). Previous boats had knees to the hull made out of 2 x 3 inch steel angle plate, the 2 inch section being welded to the side plates. With the chine this had caused the knees top and bottom to be tapered to fit the side plates, reducing the strength of the knees. Somerton was fitted with knees where the angle had the 3 inch section against the sides taking less metal from the knees, Allen boats had this feature built into them from that date. Later boats had vertical sides with no taper.
Prior to Somerton boats had front stems fabricated from steel plate, Somerton was the first boat to have its stem forged out of a solid 2 inch square steel bar, again all hulls from this time had solid forged stem posts.
At the yard the name of the boat was painted onto the bows and had traditional wooden cabin doors fitted, all the work of one Fred Winnet who is a new name to us, Fred is believed to have worked in the yard during the T.S Element era. Also working at the yard at this time was Glyn Phillips who with the Allens in the early days helped with the innovations to the hulls that finally lead to the Allens shape, Glyn remain a friend of the Allens to this day leaving to work for BW.
Supplied are the costing of Somerton back in 1969:-
Hull--700: Cabin--380: Engine--312: Fit Engine--46: Cants, Z-iron, Ballast--52: Total 1490.
Jan 2009:-Further Information from the previous owner of Somerton details the construction of the wooden top boats.

Allen Narrow boats Wooden Cabins
The wooden cabins of Les Allen boats were built around frames made of 2 inch by 1 inch channel section steel. The finished hull had an upstand of 10 gauge steel strip, 2 inches wide, continuously welded along the inside edge of the gunwale, welded at an angle to allow for the cabin tumble home. Steel strip was welded vertically along the forward edge of the counter to take the aft bulkhead. Lengths of steel channel were welded to the angled strip so that they inclined inwards at the required angle and were spaced according to the proposed window apertures. Horizontal steel channel the length of the cabin was welded to the upper end of the inclined supports to take the roof beams. Lengths of steel channel were bent by hand to the proposed curvature of the cabin roof and welded to the longitudinal's at about 2 foot intervals. All of this steel channel was fitted so that the 2 inches wide flat surface faced inward, thus facilitating the subsequent lining of the cabin. A fillet of hardwood held by countersunk steel wood screws at about 8 inch intervals filled the hollow of the side and roof channelling, but not the longitudinal's.
The cabin roof was assembled first. Very high quality 2 inch X 1 inch tongued, grooved and V jointed pine was nailed to the roof beams. The V joints faced downwards, which gave the cabin ceiling a very attractive appearance when varnished. The outer surface of the tgv was given a coat of wood preservative then covered with exterior grade plywood which was screwed to the pine at frequent intervals. The edges of the roof were then planed to the width and angle to take the cabin side panels.
The cabin sides were of inch marine plywood manufactured by Thames Board Mills and which was of exceptional hardness and durability. The side panels were screwed to the wooden fillets of the inclined supports and to the edges of the roof, but along the bottom, holes were drilled through the plywood panel and through the steel upstand at 6 inch intervals. Steel machine screws of 3/16 inch diameter were passed through these holes and held by nuts on the inside. The plywood panel was bedded to the steel on a mastic consisting of putty mixed with red lead paint. The upper edge of the panel was planed flush with the roof and the roof given a coat of pink primer.
A single sheet of heavyweight canvas, which overlapped the roof edge by several inches, was stretched over the roof while the primer was still wet and tacked at the sides. Strips of hardwood, 3 inches wide by thick were fixed along the upper edge of the cabin side with two rows of screws, thus securing the canvas. A cant rail with drainage holes was fixed along the roof edges with screws at 6 inch intervals, and was then planed to follow the cabin tumble home. Two steel strips 3 inches wide were screwed to the cabin roof along the hatchway; these were extended forward so that the slide would bear on steel and not wear away the canvas. At the fore end the cabin roof overlapped the forward bulkhead by several inches and was bowed rather than cut square.
All of the many screws used to fix the cabin woodwork were well countersunk and it required several tins of exterior-grade Brummer stopping to fill the holes before painting. It also required many coats of International yacht enamel to fill the weave of the roof canvas but roof leaks were very rare and easily fixed.
The cabin doors were made from Parana pine, which was knot-free and available in wide boards but had a tendency to split when subject to wet weather. The hatchway slide was made in a similar way to the cabin roof but without the canvas. This too had a tendency to rot when water got into the end grain of the pinewood.

somerton cruising somerton as she was somerton as she was

TRESCO:-Another boat from the 1960's. The owner who had her built in 1967 contacted the register to give us the information on a family boat. Built when Les was alive the owner remembers Les as a gentleman and the lads John and Bob as doing much of the work. The boat was launched at the yard and seems to have spent most of its time moored on the Regents Canal, Lisson Grove on the 'Turner' moorings when not cruising. She was 46ft long and had a Lister SR2. Named then 'Tresco' after the Scilly Isle she travelled the system her owner being a member of the IWA & WRG's. Hope to get more on this boat: where is she today?: No Boat named TRESCO registered today.
A little bit more info, she was sold on in 1970 to new owners who lived near Tring, the new owners had a house on the Grand Union Canel where she was going to be moored.
She was from a age when BW did not issue numbers like today, her only ID in those days being a wooden name plate about 18" long with 'Tresco Oldbury' written on it. Below are a number of photograph's from launch to cruising the system maybe someone knows her?

Received recently a very informative E mail from Harry Arnold(Waterway Images) who sent us some copies of to us very valuable photos, some of Bracken(please see the main Allen List) but amongest them was one of a very early steel boat having just been launched. It can only be Tresco unless the Allens had bought a job lot of light blue paint. The photo shows a very good impression of the yard and the formula 1 clinical approach to tidiness applied by the Allens!
Is that a very much younger John Allen in the white open neck shirt.
Believed another person in the photo is a young Grahem Palmer of IWA?(camera around his neck) who who we believe was a friend of the then owner of Tresco who himself was active in the IWA of the time.
The photograph is by kind permission and from the Grahem Palmer collection/Waterway Images.

Launch Tresco 1967: Grahem Palmer/Waterway Images

One lost boat found: The above informaition on Tresco started us searching for any information on her. The most likely boat on our lists was a boat called Wisteria but like Tresco we had no current details of her where abouts.
Then the new owners of a boat called Wisteria contacted the Register stating that they had renamed and repainted her Compass Rose and found reference to the name Tresco
Originally when first built had a wooden cabin, was given a steel cabin in the mid 1970's by another boat builder and renamed Wisteria.
So an early Allen is found to be still going strong.

Wisteria Compass Rose nee Wisteria nee Tresco

For any correspondance please us following E mail

Back to page 6 of the Allen Register

On to page 7 of the Allen Register

BCNS News  |  The BCNS  |  Boundary Post Journal  |  Pumphouse H.Q.  |  Workboat  |  Events  |  Gallery  |  Membership  |  Allens Register
© 2006 Birmingham Canal Navigations Society