Escargot & Moonstone

Two unusual boats by the name of Escargot and Moonstone!

The first is a pedal powered cruiser. The style of hull, being square shaped, clearly shows it is a different kind of boat! I saw it on the approach to Little Venice the other day. Some other boaters tell me it has been through at least once so perhaps it was on its return journey.

Escargot on the approach to Little Venice

The second is one of the very early British Waterways Board hire narrow boats. The picture below shows Moonstone with Escargot passing by. The unusual stern arrangement of both boats can be seen. On Escargot the two adults are operating pedals that drive the boat’s propulsion.

Moonstone (with Escargot) at Little Venice

I dont know much about these boats however they featured on later editions of the first canal map books in the early 1960’s. They were built specially for the bits of canal popular at the time including the Llangollen. They’d have been based at Wrenbury on the Llangollen and Aynho on the Oxford canal. Original colours were blue & yellow lining of the old 1960’s British Waterways organisation.

Moonstone – showing the unusual cabin shape, typical of the early 1960’s

I think there’s probably three of these old hire narrow boats still extant in the London area.

10 comments

  • Stuart Hall

    Hi! I’m very interested to see these pictures of “Moonstone”. I owned (and lived aboard) this very boat from 1987-1995 and sold her to her present owner whom I see has published a book about his cruise with her from London to Chester. I bought her in Worsley, Gt. Manchester and understood that “Moonstone” was built in c.1974. She was built by Stone Boatbuilders, originally named “Captain Kidd” and was hired out by company called “Adventure Cruisers” close to her birthplace. Incidentally, for most of my ownership of her, “Moonstone” (so named by the time I bought her) was based upon the Medway Navigation at Yalding in Kent. Stuart Hall

    • London Canals

      Hi this is amazing to hear thanks! Clearly these boats were built with Harecastle in mind and Moonstone is a nicer name than Captain Kidd. I remember Stone Boatbuilders – some of their boats were sold to Midland Luxury Cruisers where I worked for a short time, so it is possible I saw Moonstone in her other guise 🙂

      • Stuart Hall

        That’s interesting. When I bought “Moonstone” in Worsley, she was in a plain, dark blue livery and (with every respect to her previous owners!!) looked awful. I after a canal holiday, I had her transported to Yalding, Kent by road and painted her into the colours in which she still lives. During sanding down, I found the “Captain Kidd” name and also Adventure Cruisers. However, I also found hidden under layers of coach paint a sticker for Midland Luxury Cruisers and so she was also there! It is entirely possible that you knew this delightful boat too. Great to see her still in good form and the star of a new book. Thank you for your post.

        • London Canals

          Thanks this is even more amazing!! Maybe I painted Moonstone for all I know! Or even put that sticker on 🙂 I had always thought she represented a quite early type of narrow-boat type pleasure cruiser but I was not sure, now I know these were the next stage up in the evolution of the design, as from the mid 1970’s narrowboats became both more traditional and also more substantial in cabin size. Obviously those like Waterways Lass & others (still about) are the original pleasure narrowboats of the sixties.

          • Stuart Hall

            Thank you again! Between two extended stays upon the Medway Navigation (as already mentioned, I lived aboard her but worked in Kent at the time) I did take a summer off – something of a “sabatical” – and did an extended cruise upon the connected system. During this summer (1990) I was nominally based at Sawley Bridge Marina on the Trent. I used to quite frequently see one of “Moonstone’s” sister boats which was based at nearby Shardlow Marina. I can’t remember the name of this other boat, unfortunately. She was also extremely well-kept and I did get to look inside once after a chat with her owners. Outside, she had an unpainted cabin of self-coloured fibreglass – white sides with a dark blue roof. These were also “Moonstone’s” colours under the paint. Incidentally, to jog your memory, “Moonstone” was lined inside with oak-faced ply below the gunwhales, was lined in pale blue formica above with a similar ceiling lining. Work tops were dark maroon formica. I have nothing but happy memories of this very special boat. She was home/lifestyle/hobby all-in-one!

          • London Canals

            Thanks for this! I bet you had fun navigating between the Medway and Limehouse (or Brentford/Teddington) 🙂 Have only travelled with a convoy of n/bs from Limehouse upstream (have done downstream on the Thames trip boats though)

            I’ve only seen bits of the Medway navigation eg Aylesford, Maidstone. Knew some others who also resided on the Medway thats Val & Tony Harmer they were at Yalding before moving to Aylesbury, this is going a long time back.

            Moonstone is a lovely boat that is why I wrote about it! Much more character than a lot of the narrowboats we see today 🙂

          • Stuart Hall

            …. I’m afraid that I took the easy way into/out of the Medway each time via a flatbed lorry! Unfortunately I don’t know your friends Val and Tony. I agree with you: most modern narrowboats are boxey with caravan-style interiors. Incidentally, my wife and I are contemplating returning to the cut after a gap of some years. We’re thinking of buying a tug-style boat with a chunky, working-boat type interior. I keep brousing Apollo Duck and so who knows?!

          • London Canals

            Val & Tony this is a long time ago so you wouldnt know them. I suppose a flatbed lorry is better than drifting into the SS Richard Montgomery! If u r thinking of returning to the cut you’ll find many places overcrowded, about 25 new boats arrive on the canals of London each month and many locations are over-suscribed many moorings now have to breast up in threes!

          • Stuart Hall

            Although we currently live in south Northamptonshire, handy for walks either along the G.U. at Long Buckby or the South Oxford at Cropedy or Banbury, we were thinking Shropshire for a possible tug (S.U./Middlewich Arm). Mind you, everywhere’s getting busy. My first experience of canals was a hire boat holiday in the 70’s doing the Cheshire Ring from Anderton. The boat lift was still working prior to its long restoration closure and there were still unconverted working boats tied up with their original Number Ones living aboard in retirement. I still have the old 35mm slides from the trip and everything looks so much more convincing and workaday.

          • London Canals

            I remember using the Anderton lift and just a few days later it was shut down for what turned out to be this long restoration closure! Yes everywhere is busy on the waterways becos people cant afford property….. it doesnt look like resolving any time soon….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *