Concrete Canal Boat

Keep the home fires burning
Concrete Canal Boat

A response to shortages

CONCRETE CANAL BOAT was built by A.H. Guest of Amblecote near Stourbridge. Guests were local contract builders who normally built houses and other buildings such at schools. CONCRETE CANAL BOAT is the second of the boats built and is also referred to as BCN No2.

 The Moreuse of concrete was intended as a means of overcoming the wartime shortages of steel and fabrication skills needed for conventional canal boats. However, with traditional steel bar reinforcement, the concrete had to be almost three inches thick, and the consequence was that the boats weighed almost twice as much as equivalent iron boats. This meant that they could only carry about 24 tons, compared to over 31 tons for an iron boat of the same external dimensions.

The boats carried some trial loads of timber for Guests on the Birmingham Canal in 1918, but it was found that the concrete was easily damaged in service and that patching up with cement was not always effective.

 CONCRETE CANAL BOAT was an example of wartime innovation and inventiveness. However, she wasdeveloped too late to have a major impact on maintaining the transport of goods during the First World War, and played no significant role in doing so.

 By 1919, it was acknowledged that the experiment was not a success, and it is believed that the boats were laid up for several years.  


Where is she now?

 CONCRETE CANAL BOAT is the property of The National Waterways Museum, Gloucester where she is currently floating and on public display. The Museum is open daily throughout the year, 11am to 4pm; July and August, 10.30am to 5pm.


 McDougall, Marilyn (1990) The National Waterways Museum.

Brouwer, Norman J. (1993) International Register of Historic Ships.

 Clark, T.J. (1917) A Re-inforced Concrete Barge, Concrete and Constructural Engineering.

Two photographs of reinforced concrete barges in 1917 in Clark.



 National Register of Historic Vessels entry

 The National Waterways Museum, Gloucester