Monday, December 15, 2014

Towpath Tractor

So I'm browsing through The Wickham Works list, available from Mainline & Maritime, and spot an interesting section:

Works number 8398 covering a prototype "Barge Towing Tractor" which was a narrow rubber tyred road vehicle designed especially for running on the towpath towing barges along the River Lea Navigation. Considered a success, around 14 more were ordered and they are said to have been a direct replacement for horses and were supplied around 1960.

"I wonder what one of those looks like?", I ponder. A quick search on t'internet later and I've found photos of one owned by the London Canal Museum. Sadly, not currently on display, it looks brilliant and not just 'cos it's bright orange.

Building a model would be a bit of a challenge, although a bit of fudging might produce an acceptable version to tuck in the corner of a model railway.

The full set of photos can be found on Pinintrest here.


James Finister said...

So that is where NASA got the design of the Lunar Rover from

Tanllan said...

Phil, I remember seeing a similar tractor operating on the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union Canal way back in the early 1970s. At that time I worked at a laboratory in Alperton (near Wembley). One side of the building faced towards the canal. Very occasionally a little tractor would go past towing a wide beam dumb barge loaded with sawn timber. This was destined for a timber yard somewhere to the east of the bridge that carried the Piccadilly Line. The timber had presumably come onto the canal at Brentford.

Back then the tractor was painted the same shade of blue as the British Waterways Board used on their maintenance boats.


Geoff aka Tanllan

Martin Sach said...

The London Canal Museum tractor has been restored to the original blue livery of the British Transport Commission and is now displayed in the museum. On 1st September 2019 it was seen driving on the streets of London, the first time for some 40 years or so, as it was driven under its own power to the Angel Canal Festival. Our tractor was made in 1960. We believe three have survived of the approximately 12-14 made by Wickham, one in private hands, one in the National Waterways Museum, and ours. The tractors operated all over London. There were several other designs. Any more information about canal tractors gratefully received.