Monday, 12 January 2015

Two Things Happened on January 1st 1947

It was Vesting Day - the day the coal industry was nationalised and Narrowboat Dane was first registered after having been built in 1946.

24831 days later (or about 68 years and a week) I've started upscaling her bottom into pens and other turned treenware for sale canalside or on The Pen Maker's Boat

European Elm

Ulmus procera

European Elm has is a light to medium brown, sometimes with a hint of red. With an oil finish, it can turn a beautiful golden brown colour. Unless, of course, it's been kept at the bottom of a canal for an awfully long time.

Narrowboat Dane was built by the Mersey Weaver and Ship Canal Carrying Company and used as part of their fleet. She was built in November 1946 and first registered on January the first 1947. Ade from A P Boatbuilding is currently restoring her on behalf of The Narrowboat Heritage Foundation, the work being done is rebottomed with new chine planks, kelson, stem post and soon to receive two new bow planks, gunwales, decks, new back cabin and engine room. The pens that I will be making from Dane are all from a heavy lump of Elm bottom plate.

This pen was made on the 11th January in the heart of Birmingham whilst we were on the visitor moorings in Cambrian Wharf. It was a blustery week with the seasons changing by the hour but I had to set the lathe up as I had to work on a commission from France. I really didn't know what to expect from the inside of this piece of Elm that had been under the water of the canals and rivers of the north east of England since Vesting Day (the day the coal mines were nationalised). I needn't have been too concerned, although my attempts to waste as little wood as possible resulted in a couple of the pen blanks being too fragile and going straight on the kindling pile, the ashy grey of the elm highlighted the grain and the odd fleck of copper gold that Ade had said to expect came to life.

Here's a couple of pics before and during restoration with her temporary back cabin in place, and the Elm I've been given.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hi Diane, yes I will definitely be making some NB Dane fountain pens and rollerballs before the Spring (well as soon as its not too cold and windy really) - Ill email you too.

    Regards - James

  3. James, you should probably take Diane and Ray's email address off before they are inundated. :-)

  4. Will you be making any Charlie Hebdo pens, perhaps with a donation to the families included? Could be very popular in France.

  5. Have you seen this:

    1. Cheers Anon. I've deleted Ray and Dianes post with the email address and have a look at your link when I get a mo 😊