11:34 Friday 17 January 2014

Shipshape plans for furnace narrow boat

Written byMARK MCKAY

AN historic narrow boat will be lifted from its moorings to receive some much-needed TLC.

The barge moored at Moira Furnace will have its diesel engine overhauled, its hull welded and receive a lick of paint.

It is hoped the project will put the boat in shipshape condition ahead of an all important safety check later this year.

The boat must pass the check so it can be insured for pleasure rides.

Lewis Chalmers, 20, who is in charge of the project, told the Mail the rides raise vital funds for the furnace.

He said: “We have run into a bit of trouble because we need to get it out of the water for the safety test.

“It’s a big money-maker which helps towards the furnace and the upkeep of the canal.

“The engine needs an overhaul because it’s on its last legs.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a restoration but it needs a good bit of TLC.”

The narrow boat takes its name from the 18th century entrepreneur Joseph Wilkes, who helped to pay for the Ashby Canal.

The 70ft joey-boat was originally horse-drawn when it was built in 1908.

It was used in the iron and steel industry with the Harts Hill Iron Company, Stewarts and Lloyds and finally British Steel.

In 1979 the boat was fitted with a diesel engine so it could be used as a pleasure boat.

Mr Chalmers has worked at the furnace as a park ranger since October 2013.

He said: “It’s definitely an exciting project because I have got full responsibility over it.”

A crane will arrive to lift the boat from its moorings at 10am on Wednesday, January 22.

Mr Chalmers added: “We are trying to generate a bit of interest about the boat and businesses which are interested to come forward with donations.”

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