Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
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TermDefinition
Scend The space between the bottom of a boat and the bed of the waterway.
Scoop A wooden shovel, about five feet long, for bailing water out of a narrowboat hold.
Scour A bank of mud or sand caused by water flow.
Scouring Clearing out a canal or navigation to improve its use and appearance.
Screw A screw propeller.
Seizing Chain The chain by which two fen lighters are attached to each other, stem to stern, when forming part of a gang.
Set, To To set a staunch is to close it so that the water may accumulate.
Severn Tanker These all-steel barges operated from 1928 until the mid 1960s, mainly at Stourport, Worcester and Gloucester. They were, limited to a length of 137 feet.
Severn Trow This type of craft, now extinct, operated mainly in the Severn estuary, although many of the smaller type worked as far inland as Shrewsbury and the Welsh Marches. The larger type (70 foot length, 17 foot beam) would carry about 120 tons.
Severner A Severn & Canal Carrying Co. narrowboat.
Shaft, To To propel a boat through a tunnel with a long shaft as an alternative to legging.
Shafting Punting or poling a boat.
Shearings Panels or planks lining the interior bodywork of a craft.
Short BoatThese canal boats (length 62 feet, beam 14 feet 3 inches, cargo capacity 50 tons) were designed to fit the short but wide beam locks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Originally of wooden construction, horse-drawn or bow-hauled from the towing path.
Shroppie Fly A narrowboat, round-bilged and streamlined. It was only 6 feet wide and was used for urgent and perishable goods over the Shropshire Union Canal. Towed by two galloping horses, round the clock in relays, they travelled at over ten miles an hour.
Shutts or Shoots The false floors of a narrowboat hold.
Side cloths Protective covers drawn up or let down from the sides of a boat or barge to protect the cargo.
Side Lock A lock linking two waterways running in parallel.
Side Ponds A reservoir to take water to and from a lock as a water saving measure. Many of these can still be seen beside locks but very few that are in working order.
Sill or Cill The brick, masonry or concrete bed at the bottom of lock gates.
Slack boards Side planks, also known as wash boards, used to prevent part of a cargo of slack or small coal from slipping into the water.
Slacker A paddle, or small door, used to control the flow of water through a lock or weir.
Slat A paddle, or small door, used to control the flow of water through a lock or weir.
Saulters A working boater's term for Boxmoor Top Lock, No. 62, on the GU main line.
Slide Hatch cover on the top of a stern cabin. Made to open by sliding backwards and forwards.
Slope The fall of a river's surface over a distance. May be expressed as a fall of a number of feet and inches per mile.
Slope Holes Nicks in the ground, every two or three chains distance, to mark each side of a canals course. Made by canal cutters following the surveyor's pegs. See also lock spits.
Slub or Slutch Dredged mud.
Sluice A fenland term for a lock.
Snatcher A short rope used for towing.
Snubber A long rope used for towing a butty.
Snubbing Post An old Chester Canal term for a strapping post.
Soar Pin A straight pin with a shoulder attached to a cabin top and used for attaching tow ropes prior to their replacement by towing studs.
Soss A sluice.
Sough A drainage tunnel for canal tunnel construction or mine workings. Pronounced suff.
Spread A fenland term for a pole, shaft or quant.
Sprit A fenland term for a pole, shaft or quant.
Staircase Locks A series of locks having no intermediate pounds, so that the top gates of one forms the bottom gates of the next. Also called risers.
Staith or Staithe Loading gantry, usually at or near a colliery, for loading coal into boats or ships.
Stake A fenland term for mooring.
Stakie Barge A Thames swim-headed barge that often carried hay in her hold rising as much as 13 feet above deck. Very few were seen the 1920s. The mate was often perched on top of the cargo so as to shout directions to the helmsman.
Standed Boat A boat left unattended for loading or unloading.
StandsFlattened or attenuated uprights of a narrowboat, supporting top planks and side cloths.
Stank A temporary watertight dam used to isolate and drain a section of waterway for repair.
Star Class GUCCC boats named after stars and constellations.
Starvationer Narrow cigar-shaped boat, formerly used in the underground workings of collieries owned by the Duke of Bridgewater at Worsley near Manchester.
Station Boats or Railway Boats Narrowboats operated by railway companies to take goods to and from Railway Basins.
Staunch or Stanch A weir with a single gate to allow navigation. Boats either had to navigate with, or against, the rush of water or to wait for the whole of pounds on either side of the weir to become equal. Also called a Navigation Weir or Flash Lock.
Steering Pole The pole which projected from the second fen lighter in a gang by which the whole gang was steered by men standing on the first lighter.
Stem Post The fore post of the boat that forms the apex of the bows.
Stemmed Aground on a mud-bank.
Stern gland The aperture through which the drive shaft connects with the propeller. Normally packed and greased to minimise water seepage.
Stern Stud A T-stud at the rear of a butty or horse boat.
Stiffeners Thinner stands used as extra support for the top planks of a narrowboat.
Stop Gates Wooden gates similar to lock gates that can be used to dam the canal in the event of a leak or the need for repairs, but which are normally kept open.
Stop Grooves Places provided to fit Stop Planks to dam the canal in the event of a leak or the need for repairs. These are normally found at places where the canal narrows, e.g. bridges, aqueducts and locks.
Stop Lock A lock provided to protect the water supply of one canal company from another rather than to affect a significant change in the level of the waterway.
Stop Planks Wooden boards that can be inserted into Stop Grooves to dam the canal in the event of a leak or the need for repairs.
Stoppage The temporary closing of part of a waterway for maintenance or repairs.
Stourlifter A railway narrowboat operating between Wolverhampton and Stourport.
Strakes Protective horizontal bars or bands protecting the sides, bow and stern of a boat or barge.
Strap A rope used to stop a vessel by winding one end round a post or bollard on shore, the other end being attached to the vessel.
Strapping Post A post, either on the lock side or the top gate, provided to hold the strap of a boat entering a lock.
Stretcher (1) Crossbar to which the low rope is attached for horse towing. (2) Cross plank or bar used to strengthen the hull of a narrowboat.
Stride A Thames term for a galley beam or lintel.
Strings Thin ropes used to secure side and top cloths on a working boat.
Stroudwater Barges Used on the Stroudwater Canal, also working into the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, via Saul Junction. They were about 70 feet long, with a beam of 15 feet 6 inches, and between 70 and 75 ton in capacity.
Struts Inward-sloping wooden stays used to support the top planks and covers of a narrowboat.
Stud A tee shaped cleat fitted to the front or rear of a narrowboat to which mooring lines can be attached.
Stumpy Barge A Thames barge which was swim-headed and only 45 to 55 feet long, used during the first half of the nineteenth century.
Summit Level A pound with no locks which rise from it, therefore a key point for water supply.
Sutter A fenland term for a guillotine lock gate.
Suttons Stop Hawkesbury Junction where the Oxford Canal joins the Coventry Canal.
Swan's Neck Ornamental rope work on a butty, connecting the rudder blade with the top of the rudder post or ram's head.
Sweep A large oar.
Sweeps Two A working boater's term for the Berkhampstead Locks, Nos. 54 & 55, on the GU main line.
Swim The shaping or tapering of a boat's hull to allow a good flow of water around the vessel when moving.
Swim, To A boat which answers readily to the helm is described as 'a good swimmer', or may be said to "swim well'.
Swim-end Boat or barge with a flattened, square end (bow or stern) raked to overhang the water at an angle of about 45 degrees.
Swingletree A later and sturdier form of towing stretcher.
Tack String An extra line tacked onto the towline of a horse boat.
Tackle A boatman's name for the harness of a boat horse.
Tail Immediately below the bottom gates of a lock is the tail of the lock.
Talbots A working boater's term for Stoke Hammond Lock, No. 23, on the GU main line.
Tan Pin or Gudgeon A pin at the foot of the heel post of a lock gate on which the gate turns.
Thames Sailing Barge The sailing barge of the Thames and the Medway, although frequently trading with east-coast ports and able to cross the North Sea. It is still admired for the beauty of its reddish-brown sails, the mast and tackle of which can be lowered.
Thames Wherry An old craft, of which very few were to be seen after the First World War, was fairly long and wide with a high-pointed stem, often sheathed in iron. Some were pointed at both ends and could be rowed in either direction.
Thick Many locks close together.
Tide Lock A lock between fresh and tidal water. Some may operate in either direction i.e. may rise or fall depending on the state of the tide.
Tiller Wooden or metal beam attached to the rudder post of a craft for steering.
Timberhead The wooden bollard fitted to certain regional narrowboats.
Tingles Horizontal pieces of wood strengthening the elum on a narrowboat.
Tipcats A round rope stern fender.
Toe The bottom of a bank or embankment.
Toll Canal tolls were based on the distance travelled, the tonnage and the type of cargo. The charges varied from canal to canal, some tolls having set maximum due to the Act of Parliament under which the canal was authorised, and some categories of goods
Tom Pudding A compartment boat once used on the Aire and Calder Navigation and formed into trains to be pushed and/or pulled by a tug.
Top Bend On a wooden narrowboat the top planks that were made with curves in two directions.
Top planks Gangway of planks down the length of the hold or cargo space of a narrowboat. Supported by stands and mast, between cabin roof and cratch.
Towing path Also known as the haling path or way. Canal or riverside paths used for towing boats.
Towing post The box mast of a boat or barge used for towing.
Towing Stud A fitting on the cabin top of boats for fastening the towing line. This enabled the steerer to control the length of line used from the steering position.
Town Class GUCCC boats named after towns and villages.
Transom A flat, often D-shaped panel forming the stem of certain types of wooden craft.
Trenail An oak peg used as a fastening in building traditional wooden boats and barges.
Trench Boat An extra narrow narrowboat designed to work through the Shrewsbury Canal which was an unusually narrow canal. These boats were 70 foot long with a 6 foot 2 inch beam. They could carry about 17 tons.
Tub Boats. Small box boats carrying from three to five tons, once used in Shropshire and on the Bude canal in Cornwall, and elsewhere.
Tumblehome Inward-sloping sides of a stem cabin on a narrowboat. More pronounced on a butty or horse boat than on a motorboat or tug.
Tunnel cutter Metal ring fitted above or across the top of a funnel or stovepipe. This prevents soot or grit from entering the pipe when passing through a tunnel, and also helps to disperse smoke.
Tunnel lamp Original type of navigation lamp, fixed to the cratch of a narrow boat. Made with either a straight or a curved lens. Eventually replaced by an electric lamp of the van type.
Turk's head Spliced and woven rope work decorating the top of the rudder post on a butty. This resembled the turban of a Turkish warrior.
Turnover Bridge or Roving Bridge A bridge carrying the towing path across another canal or branch at the junction. Also called a Crossover Bridge
Turns (Waiting or Working turns) At times of water shortage boatmen were not allowed to empty or fill a lock that was set against them, instead they had to wait for a boat to arrive from the opposite direction so that no water was wasted by working empty locks.
Tying Point The point of least draught on a waterway determining the maximum draught vessel that can navigate. Very often a lock sill is the Tying point.
Una rig A rig type of East Anglia. It consisted of a large single sail with gaff and boom, the mast stepped well forward. Any craft with una rig is fairly shallow and broad in the beam, often fitted with an extra rig.
Uprights Detachable wood pieces stretching from the gunwale to the gang plank on a commercial (or working) narrowboat.
Valley Working boater's term for an embankment.
Waiting (or Working) Turns At times of water shortage boatmen were not allowed to empty or fill a lock that was set against them, instead they had to wait for a boat to arrive from the opposite direction so that no water was wasted by working empty locks.
Walkers A working boater's term for Lot Mead Lock, No. 80, GU main line.
Wash Lands or Washes An area of land between the normal course of a river and the flood banks. This area is provided to take the excess water in time of flood.
Watercress Bed A badly leaking boat.
Watergate West Midland term for a staunch.
Waterman Boatman or bargee, usually working on a river rather than a canal navigation.
Weigh Dock A dock that was provided for establishing the gauging, or loading, levels of a boat at various tonnages. This scale would then be used for gauging the boat and collecting tolls.
Weir A barrier or dam across a channel to increase water depth and control the flow.
Well-deck The stern deck of a butty boat which is enclosed by the sides of the boat.
Welsh Narrowboat Day boats, mainly double ended (the rudder being moved from one end to the other to save turning ) operated over the canals of South Wales. They were 60 to 65 feet long with a beam of between 7 feet 6 inches and 9 feet, depending on the canal.
West Country Vessel This slightly smaller version of the Humber, or Yorkshire, keel plied mainly on the Calder and Hebble Navigation and even farther inland. They were often wooden horse barges, although they sometimes worked down the estuary to Hull.
Wey Barge This was a bluff-bowed, flat-bottomed barge operating mainly between the Wey Navigation and London. It was a wooden craft in carvel style, having a D-shaped transom, a maximum beam of 13 feet 101/2 inches and capacity 80 tons.
Wherry The name given to the sailing vessels which traded over the rivers of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads.
Wich Barges A smaller version of the Severn trow, that were used on the Droitwich Canal in the salt trade.
Wide Boat A boat with a beam of over 7 feet, typically 11 to 14 feet, in use on canals having wide locks.
Wigrams A working boater's term for the Calcutt Locks (Wigram's 3) and the adjacent Napton Junction (Wigram's Turn).
Wind To wind a boat is to turn the boat around.
Winding Hole, Winding Place or Winning Hole A wide place in a canal provided for the purpose of turning a boat round. Pronounced as in kindling.
Windlass (1) An L-shaped tool used for opening paddles on lock gates. Often carried in the waist band or belt of a boater. (2) Gear for raising heavy loads.
Windlass hole Cupboard in the stern cabin of a narrowboat where a spare windlass of the type used for opening locks was kept.
Wing walls The walls flanking the tail of a lock.
Wings Boards which could be attached to the front of the boat and which projected out to the sides, on which the leggers lay while legging through a tunnel. Most boats would carry two sets, one for wide, and one for narrow tunnels. Also called legging boards.
Woolwich A steel narrowboat built by Harland & Wolff Ltd at Woolwich. There are large and small Woolwich boats.
Wooser South Midlands's term for a narrowboat.

 

Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
Features Contact me Glossary Boats Events List History Local Waterways Help Photo List