Atlas and Malus – a little history

Atlas is Small Woolwich Star Class boat.

She was one of 18 pairs ordered in 1935 by the Grand Union Canal Carrying Co.
She was built by Harland and Wolff, of composite construction, (that is iron sides and an elm bottom), powered by a 2DM engine (number 46325) made by the National Oil Engine Company at Ashton under Lyme.

Atlas was delivered on the 29th December 1935, paired with the butty Atlanta, at the cost of £1276 the pair.

On entering service the GUCCC gave her the fleet number 16 which she still carries.

She was gauged on the Grand Union on the 18th June 1936 and given the gauging number 12529.

During the war years 10 pairs of Star Class boats were steered by all women crews later know as “Idle women“because of the the initials of the Inland Waterways on the National Service badges they wore.
A pairing list of the 14th September 1944 shows Atlas paired with butty “Capella”, steered by one of the “Idle Women” Frankie C Martin.

After nationalisation she became part of the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive, South Eastern Division.  Pairing lists in 1958 and 1960 show her paired with butty “Draco”.  She has also been paired with “Leo“.

After carrying stopped she was transferred to the maintenance fleet in the Birmingham and Midlands area until being passed (with Malus) into the British Waterways Heritage Working Boat fleet in the early 1990s.

Atlas and Malus were initially leased from British Waterways to the BCNS and CCT, and later we later purchased them.

Malus is a small Northwich butty boat, originally of composite construction, built by W J Yarwoods and Sons of Northwich in September 1935 for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company as part of the same expansion programme as Atlas.

Delivered on the 4th October 1935 to the GUCCC and given fleet number 307, and paired with “Scorpio.”  She was gauged on the Grand Union on the 24th October 1936 and given the gauging number 12412.  She was used for carriage of cargoes such as coal, steel, timber and grain from London to the Midlands area.

Pairing lists in 1944 shows her as being with “Areas”.

After nationalisation she became part of the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive, South Eastern Division. Paired with “Owl” number 230 in 1958 and “Saltaire” in 1960.

She was restored as an example of a working boat of the 1950s in which two adults and up to two or more children would have lived.   The cabin is open for viewing.