SATURN is the only floating example of a
horse-drawn Shropshire Union fly-boat in the world. She was built for the
Shropshire Union Canal Carrying Company in 1906 at the company’s dock which
still exists at Tower Wharf Chester. Her public health registration number
was Chester 630.
was a ‘cheese fly’: That is. she was built primarily for the fast carriage
of cheese from the producing towns of Cheshire and Shropshire to major
markets such as Manchester She would have carried return loads of perishable
goods. However, she would have also worked to other destinations on the
Shropshire Union network and other waterways throughout the North West,
the Midlands and Wales. For instance, the boat is recorded loading corn
and soda at Preston Brook for Mills & Co. of Wolverhampton in August
1917. Painting right shows another fly boat Symbol.
Click to see more about FLY-BOATS.
Following the cessation of fly-boat
services after the First World War and the acquisition of the Shropshire
Union’s owning company - the London & North Westem Railway Company - by the
London Midland & Scottish Railway Company in 1923, she remained in their
She was moved to the Birmingham Canal
Navigations, becoming LMS Fleet No.102 and given BCN Registration No.1103 on
9 October 925; as owned by the LMS Railway Co., based at Mill Street Basin.
We know that she worked extensively around Birmingham and the Midland’s
canals network from the railway interchange basins.
This work carried on after the
nationalisation of the waterways in 1948 and SATURN is recorded on colour
film around 1950 travelling empty up the Staffs & Worcester Canal, still in
LMS style black & white livery, horse-drawn and fully rigged with cratch,
mast, stands, cloths, etc. for carrying dry goods. Sometime later she was
sold by British Transport Waterways to independent carrier Frank Matty.
December 1955 SATURN was purchased by pioneer waterway campaigner and
entrepreneur Peter Froud. (later to be one of the co-founders of The Boat
Museum). Peter converted her with a full-length cabin at Lowesmoor Basin,
Worcester and fitted an Austin 7 car engine; then later a Ford Model B
engine, running on paraffin, and driving a Hotchkiss Cone Propeller unit.
In 1963 Peter started his well-known hotel
boat business, under the company name Canal Voyagers, altering her to work
as a single hotel boat. During 1963 she was paired with Jupiter (ex. Fellows,
Morton & Clayton motor boat Hawk). The engine unit was initially retained
then later removed and fitted in sister SU flyboat Symbol. Retired as a
hotel boat in 1987, she was sold into private hands.
SATURN was purchased for preservation by
British Waterways, Border Counties, in 2000 and is now in joint-ownership
with The Shropshire Union Fly-Boat Restoration Society.
Click to see the full
restoration story with images