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NB "RUMPUS" was built in 1976 as a day hire boat by the now-defunct Kingfisher Line, who were based at Hoo Mill Lock on the Trent and Mersey Canal. When new, she was reviewed in the September 1976 issue of "Waterways World" (in those days, it only cost 30p!) by Harry Arnold, who commented, "We found Rumpus to be well planned, particularly regarding maintenance and damage replacement and it is an eye-catching boat of some character. (She) is a useful and economical means of introducing the novice to the canals and it also has considerable potential as a small camping boat - a type of boat which, once popular, has virtually disappeared from the waterways, but for which there could still be a steady demand." New, she cost 1700 +VAT, less engine - a new luxury hire boat cost 8000!

She is 24 feet long, and as you can see had a full-length cabin, of ply on a square steel tube frame. Working from the front, there was a 2 ring cooker, sink, and water carriers (no water system) in a galley area behind the front window. The main sitting area had canvas side curtains and a set of steps out the port side. There was a hump-it-and-dump-it toilet in a "compartment larger than similar facilities found on many hire boats" to quote the review and under the engine cover lurked a Stuart Turner P55 5hp twin cylinder 2-stroke petrol engine which I never found to be problematical, though Harry called it "a noisy, smelly beast". She was ballasted with gravel, which was eventually to be her undoing.........

A stern view!
A Stern View

She operated for a number of years from Hoo Mill, being eventually replaced when the 'Umbles (Bumble, Mumble, Jumble, etc) were built. Rumpus then went "over the hill" to the then Colliery Narrowboats operation at Wincham Wharf, not far from the Anderton Lift. Here she continued in service for some years, eventually being sold into private ownership. At some point, the Stuart Turner engine was replaced by a Renault Diesel.

A view from above!
A View from Above

Here, sadly, she eventually went badly downhill. The new owner converted her to a cruiser by covering in the areas where the canvas side curtains had been, installed a water tank (and presumably system) and a stove, but old age took its toll and the bottom started to go. The boat was hauled out to be patched and the engine was removed, but the job was never finished (I understand the owner had a heart attack) and the boat was abandoned "on the bank" at Hesford's yard at Lymm. Fortunately for me, the owner of Egerton Narrowboats in Manchester spotted the potential in what remained, bought her, stripped the interior and the rotten wood cabin cladding and left her to stand as a "rainy day" project.

This is where I came in again - I first saw her in December 1995, when she sat on the dock under the railway viaduct. It looked at that stage that she might have been back in the water fairly soon, but a move of yard to Stretford, among other things, meant that in October 1998, she still sat there in the same state. Eventually, I decided she was waiting for me to own her, so in I did something about it and bought her!

Rumpus then went to Redhill Marina on the Soar, where they are sympathetic to impoverished owners who need to do lots of DIY. Restoration progress was steady rather than spectacular. The steelwork required a fair amount of attention and a new 6mm bottom plate and top rubbing strake were fitted. There were also some repairs carried out to the framing, which was in a rather worse state than first thought. The cabin was re-clad and new doors and hatches fitted. The engine (a Kingfisher KD6 with only 40 hours on her from new) was fitted on new bearers. A new fuel tank and piping was fitted, as has the engine's electrical installation - fortunately it came with a panel and loom. Engine controls (mechanical gearchange and speedwheel 'cause they're cheaper) were made and the cooling pipes in the swim abandoned in favour of raw water cooling. The boat finally went in the water on April 1st 2000, and was mobile a week after that.

Thanks to the kindness of the late Ray Dunford, I have a colour slide of Rumpus, from which the following picture has been taken.

Rumpus and Sally at Hoo Mill Lock
Rumpus and Sally at Hoo Mill Lock

Last updated on 6th March, 2005

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