Refurbishing Ferret

Published: Monday, 16 December 2013

THE Inland Waterways Association Chester & Merseyside branch members were delighted to donate £800 towards vital repair work on historic narrowboat Ferret which will be carried out at the Heritage Boatyard (at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port) by Boat Museum Society volunteers and trainees on a Heritage Lottery Fund scheme 'Keeping History Afloat'.

The Heritage Boatyard is a working yard as well as a Skills and Training Centre run in partnership with the Canal & River Trust, Boat Museum Society and National Historic Ships.

Experience life

The historic working boat Ferret has been at the National Waterways Museum for many years, enabling youngsters in particular to experience what life might have been like in the tiny boatman's cabin.

In the photograph are left to right: Mike Turpin, Boat Museum Society; Dave Linney, Heritage Boatyard Manager; John Inch, National Waterways Museum Manager; Mike Carter, IWA Chester & Merseyside with the cheque.

Built in 1926 by Yarwoods of Northwich for carriers Fellows, Morton & Clayton, she regularly carried cargoes to Runcorn and Ellesmere Port before she was sold in 1964 to the Clark family who based the boat at Preston Brook and then Barbridge.

During the mid 60s, they fitted a cabin and installed the vintage Bolinder engine, a single cylinder 15hp semi-diesel, with its highly prized 'hit and miss' exhaust note.


The mid 70s saw the boatman's cabin professionally restored by Taylor's Boatyard in Chester, with Ferret serving the family well for many years of extensive cruising on the canal system, winning several awards at national waterways festivals.

In 1983, Ferret was sold to Nottingham Industrial Museum, paired with the butty Ilkeston, then when this museum closed in 1998, she was again rescued and brought, along with Ilkeston, to the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port.

Since arrival at the museum, considerable on-going maintenance work has been undertaken over the years by the museum's staff and Boat Museum Society volunteers, working with the London Canal Museum, who have been sponsoring both Ferret & Ilkeston.

Full inspection

However, Ferret has now been taken out of the water for full inspection and repair, with IWA Chester & Merseyside branch Chairman, Brian Phillips, explaining:

"We are delighted to provide funding towards Ferret's refurbishment, especially as it will also support young people learning valuable boat repair skills for the future."