The cabin has been decorated in the style of her heyday and volunteers show visitors around so they can appreciate the living conditions of the working families at the time.
Forget Me Not has gone through a number of changes over the years. She was built for Henry Grantham in 1927.
Grantham was a number one (owner boatman). He owned a house beside the locks on the Grand Junction Canal, at Whilton, as well as a pair of boats. It seems that he had a new boat built every couple of years. They were always called Forget Me Not or Sarah Jane, giving plenty of scope for confusion among historians. It is believed Mr & Mrs Grantham only had two children, Henry and Sarah Jane.
In 1929, Forget Me Not was fitted with an engine. In 1931, the stern was rebuilt with a counter, so that the boat could tow a butty. This necessitated the complete reconstruction of the cabin.
In 1941, Forget Me Not was sold to the Samuel Barlow Coal Company, on Henry Grantham’s retirement, and renamed Sarah.
In 1959, Sarah was sold off to be converted to a pleasure boat. The cabin seems to have survived until the early 1970s when it was replaced with a monstrosity of plywood and T&G. This was a pity as, even if the original was rotten, it would have provided something to copy. As it was, we had to start from scratch when rebuilding the boat, as Forget Me Not.
The Engine “Ole”
Many motor boats had a steel engine room which could be unbolted and lifted off to allow the engine to be removed. Forget Me Not is different in having a wooden engine room which is more spacious than most.
When Forget Me Not was first motorised it is thought that she had a small 9 HP Bolinder. These Swedish engines were very popular on narrow boats. They have a single cylinder and run with an uneven beat because they are fitted with a crude ‘hit and miss’ governor. Bolinders fire on top dead centre and so can run in either direction.
A 9 HP engine was insufficient for towing a butty so when the counter stern was fitted, in 1931, it was replaced by the 20 HP version. For a comparison, most modern small cars have at least 50 HP. Forget Me Not and Sarah Jane would have carried over 50 tons between them. That is two large lorry loads.
Unfortunately, when the boat was converted, in 1959, the old Bolinder was scrapped and replaced with a Kelvin 4 cylinder petrol/paraffin engine. This was taken out in the early 1970s in favour of a Petter PD2 air cooled diesel. The engine currently fitted is a Perkins 4108 dating from the 1970s. Originally powering a standby generator, it has been marinised by WCBS volunteers based in Sussex. Ultimately we hope to fit a Bolinder or similar vintage engine.