Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
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Tub boats, Tom puddings and other container boats.
An interesting experiments with compartment boats from overseas, contained within a larger double-hulled vessel. The smaller craft were detached on reaching their home port, to be taken further inland by tugs. The Bacat system worked mainly across the North Sea with units capable of conveying 140 tons of freight.
An experimental system using compartment boats from overseas, contained within a larger double-hulled vessel. The smaller craft were detached on reaching their home port, to be taken further inland by tugs. The Lash system was used for Atlantic crossings. The host ship contained up to eighty-nine lighters, each lighter holding 435 tons of cargo. The lighters were lifted in and out of the host ship by means of a travelling overhead crane, operating from bridge to stern. The system was in operation during the 1970s.
Tom puddings were almost square steel compartment boats used on the Aire and Calder Navigations. They were hauled in trains by power-boats, originally steam tugs but later diesels, rounded at bow and stern. The system was invented by William H. Bartholomew, then engineer to the Aire and Calder company. If first operated for the bulk transport of coal in 1865. The origin of the name is uncertain but may relate to the, way in which compartments resemble oblong or square pudding tins. They have also been termed 'puddens' or 'pans'. Bartholomew's invention brought increased trade to the port of Goole, helping to make it an important outlet for the Yorkshire coalfields. Traffic declined after the First World War, but up to 1914 over a thousand Tom puddings were carrying one and a half million tons of coal per year. The boats were originally of wood, reinforced with ironwork, then changed to all-steel construction.The pans were originally towed astern in trains of between fifteen and twenty, although sometimes as many as thirty-two. The locks between Leeds, Wakefield and Goole are few and they were able to take six compartment boats at a time. The dimensions of each boat were 20 feet long, 16 feet beam, loading 35 tons to a draught of 6 feet. Later compartment boats were pushed and were steered by means of steel ropes passing along the sides of each craft to winches on the power boat. The boats were otherwise coupled together by central knuckle joints or posts fitting into the boat directly ahead. The first boat in each train, either towed or pushed, was attached to a false bow or jebus, which was a small, separate and wedge-shaped craft. This helped to cleave the water and, in towing, kept the wash from the screw of the tug from slopping into the compartment, usually loaded very near the waterline. On arriving at Goole docks the compartments were detached from each other and their contents tipped - by means of cradle, heist and chute - into the holds of sea-going colliers.
Tub boat were used on a number of specially designed canals in the Midlands, Wales, the South-west and Cornwall. They were rectangular floating boxes towed in trains, usually from the bank. On some canals they were bow-hauled by men (and in some cases women, boys and girls) but in most cases they were drawn by a horse. Most were square-ended although on some canals the first boat would have ordinary or pointed bows. On the Torrington Canal in North Devon boats were in pairs, close-coupled, the first boat having pointed bows while the second boat was square ended. On many tub-boat canals either inclined planes or lifts were used instead of locks. Boats would be drawn up a slipway or even a narrow-gauge railway. On the Bude Canal the boats had fixed wheels, while on the Grand Western Canal they were designed to fit into the compartments of special lifts.