Fish class boats
The Fish Class is a set of 18 boats built for Fellows, Morton and Clayton between 1932 and 1936. My own interest comes as the owner since December 1999 of Bream, the first of the class. Since then, I have met and corresponded with many people who either own or know something about these boats and have assisted me in my sharp learning curve! They are far too many to name here but I would firstly like to thank them all for sharing their knowledge.
The early history of all these boats is similar. They were built for use in the Northern Fleet of FMC. The shorter than usual cabin was in order to maximise the carrying capacity, given that they were all intended as single motors. All had 9hp Bolinder engines fitted. Cargoes carried included metal tubes from Bilston to Ellesmere Port and flour and sugar in the opposite direction.
The boats all passed into the NW Division (Southern) of the British Transport Comission when FMC were liquidated on 1st January 1949. Cargoes at that time included copper sludge in drums from Darlaston to Manchester Docks via Shropshire Union; copper, borax, aluminium and Bentonite from Weston Point to Wolverhampton; flour and sugar from Ellesmere Port to Wolverhampton; pottery materials from Weston Point to Stoke-on-Trent; coal from Stoke to Middlewich.
When BWB ceased carrying, the entire fleet (and the carrying contracts) were taken over by Willow Wren in the early 1960s. They then passed to the new Anderton Canal Carrying Co fleet in 1967 when Willow Wren ceased trading and were used for another two or three years, at which time ownership passed back to BWB.
One obvious question not answered here is what is meant by a class? These boats were not all built in one place, or to one design, or even made of the same material. Nor were they built or delivered consecutively, although they do have consecutive FMC fleet numbers. The class was clearly conceived at the beginning; this is clear from the numbering as non-fish boats delivered before Trout have higher fleet numbers. I would love to hear from anyone who has any idea about this, or who has any photographs or further information about any of these boats.