Now if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Enceladus has had multiple names and iterations across her eight decades or so. When entering the BW hire fleet at the beginning of the 60s, she was Water Valiant. When entering her private ownership years, she became simply Valiant. I knew very little about this phase of her life apart from a reference that she once ran as a trip boat on the Staffs and Worcs and was moored around the Bratch, but I think this refers more to the decade that preceded her move onto the bank at Stretton in the early 2000s. As regards the 70s and 80s, it was all a bit of a blank..until a chap called Tony Shearwood got in touch.
You may already have clocked his comment but if not, I’m going to share it here (all this is being done with Tony’s happy consent, by the way). I am not going to edit any of Tony’s words here, or what’s to come – yes, there’s more but you’ll have to wait – because I want you to experience what I did, the very real affection, enduring love and unalloyed, undimmed enthusiasm that just shines forth from what he has to say. This is what boating and boat ownership is all about. Over to you, Tony
“Hi, we owned ‘Valiant’ as she was then known throughout the 70s and well into the 80s. She was our family boat based in the North West of England in Lymm. We loved the old girl and spent very many holidays on the Bridgewater, Trent and Mersey, Leeds – Liverpool, The Peak Forest, The Shropshire Union, Macclesfield, Staffs Worcester etc. Her beating heart was the ever reliable Lister 2 cylinder diesel. When we bought Valiant, she had the flat-cut stern, which was typical of the British Waterways tug conversion, the flat stern continued below the water line, which made reversing almost impossible. We had the underwater tapering done which did improve the handling but she always needed the whole stern re-shaping. Incidentally, when we bought her she still had a central cockpit with steering wheel, again this was typical of the British Waterways approach to converting working boats into rental pleasure boats. Over the years she had ‘relaxed’ and gained a little girth, making some locks very scary, several times she was pinned by the lock walls as the water rose, you always has to be on guard. In her British Waterways hire fleet days, she featured on Blue Peter navigating the Anderton Boat Lift in Northwich. We also used the lift to venture onto the River Weaver, that region being her spiritual home. That said, she was a lovely old girl and I’m happy she’s found a new lease of life. We’ll never forget our old girl.”
The Valiant Years part 2 coming soon, featuring ‘Chocolate Charlie’…