History of ANGEL
ANGEL is a Town Class Large Woolwich Butty built with riveted steel hull by Harland & Wolff Ltd. at Woolwich, London and delivered on 28th July 1936 to the Grand Union Canal Carrying Co Ltd. who named her after The Angel, Islington, London.
She was launched in August 1936 and operated under fleet number 211, gaining the GUCCCo gauging number 12613 on 6th January 1937 and registered as number 538 at Coventry on 28 January 1937. ANGEL was built as a pair with ALDGATE, but as that motor was not ready, entered GUCCC service with ALTON in 1937 at Coventry.
During WWII the Hambridge family carried food from the Thames to Tring in ANGEL, paired with DARLEY. When the British Transport Corporation (British Waterways) was formed in 1948, she acquired BW number 79620 but was then out of service until paired with FULBOURNE in 1952, with STANTON in 1954, NUTFIELD in 1958, STAMFORD in 1960. In the hard winter of 1962/63 ANGEL spent months frozen in at Warwick. In 1965 she was hired with BILSTER to carrier Fred Lycett who, with Ron Withy, carried aluminium ingots up the Shropshire Union canal to Birmingham.
In 1967 she was sold briefly to Jay Price and then to Birmingham & Midland CCCLtd. until 1974 when it passed to various owners: Douglas Greaves, J.Wain, J.Ward (paired with DUKE).
Mike and Peter Fincher used ANGEL paired with BILSTER to carry coal from the Ashby canal to Leighton Buzzard until 1978 when she was saved from being cut in half when bought in 1979 by John and Sue Yates (paired with ANTARES and BARNHAM). They traded as Metropolitan & Midland with their son living aboard from 3 days old until November 1988 when they sold the firm to Martin Curtis and Anne Edmunson who, having re-bottomed ANGEL in 1992, sold it in 1993 to M. Flynn, still paired with BARNHAM.
In 1994 Paul and Lyn Ayres trading as Colne Valley Carriers, bought ANGEL to pair once again with ALDGATE. ANGEL and ALDGATE are the only canal working boats on our National Historic Ships Register to have been built as a pair and to have travelled as a pair to Europe - twice. In 1995, they were with a 30 boat flotilla that crossed the channel to promote British Waterways in Flanders, Belgium and in 2005 travelled by ferry to the World Canal Conference in Sweden.
On 29th September 2007 the pair were sold to Nick Wolfe and Sheena Bourne (trading as Wolfe–Bourne Canal Carriers) who gained a Sustainability Grant from the National Historic Ships Register for remedial and protective work to restore the pair to the satisfaction of boat surveyor, Trevor Whittling in 2008. ANGEL and ALDGATE worked together until April 2011, carrying a variety of cargoes including coal, timber, beer, concrete, medical supplies, boat trailers, marquees and a prefabricated building.
Whilst Nick still owns ALDGATE (2018), in 2013 ANGEL was sold to Ian and Lesley Lauder who towed her with her new pairing, BADSEY, to be based at Hillmorton outside their canalchef Cafe/Bistro/Bar. Further restoration work was carried out and a removable living pod built in the hold, ensuring ANGEL remains a full length unconverted working boat. In 2016 ANGEL starred at Crick Show paired with ALDGATE and on 10th January 2017 ANGEL was towed by ALDGATE to be craned onto Clifton Cruisers forecourt. After scraping and steam cleaning, the hull was inspected by Trevor Whitling and found to be mostly in good condition but plates were welded over soft metal found behind some knees. The hull was blacked and ANGEL was towed by ALDGATE back to Hillmorton.