This is the fifth installment in a new series of posts about BCN tugs. Other posts in the series list below can be accessed by clicking the red ‘Introduction’ link :

1. Introduction
2. Tug Portrait: Enterprise No. 1
3. Tug Portrait: Bittel
4. Tug Portrait: James Loader
5. Tug Portrait: Judith Anne (this post)
6. Tug Portrait: Caggy

The Judith Anne is a rare survivor, a 57’ wooden BCN tug. She has an oak/opepe carvel construction. The hull is believed to have been based on a Shropshire fly boat design and is only four planks deep. It has very fine lines and a pronounced concave bow.

Judith Anne (named after Ken Keay’s daughter) was built by Peter Keay & Son of Walsall in 1943. She currently has a Kelvin F2 petrol/paraffin engine dating from 1928, and has previously had a Ruston 4VRH, and then a Lister JP4 unit.

It is believed she was built to Ministry of Supply order to tow coal boats to Wolverhampton Power Station and subsequently used for general towage on the Birmingham Canal Navigations.

Judith Anne later came into the fleet operated by Caggy Stevens as the joint venture ‘Stevens and Keay’.  The livery of Keays’ boats was interesting, they used a mix which they called ‘Common Blue’, and at least one picture exists of the Judith Anne on Pratts Bridge Dock in a livery which appears to be ‘Common Blue’ with a white surround edged in a fine line of red. ‘Common Blue’ was made by dissolving tearly blue washing tablets into white lead paint! During the re-paint the Judith Anne seemingly (according to the photographs) became the Judith Ann.

It is one of only two Keay’s tugs extant.

Following a long decline under various owners she was bought for restoration in 2005 and was professionally re-planked by Bates Yard at Puttenham on the Aylesbury Arm. Apart from the posts and one chine plank all the planking and bottoms were replaced at Puttenham. They are now fitting decks and cabin. It is intended that the boat will be used as a tug, towing suitable hulls fitted as camping boats for youth groups.

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A Ken Keay tug which later came into the fleet operated by Caggy Stevens as the joint venture of “Stevens and Keay”. Seen here in 1973 at Whimsey Bridge on the old main line near Oldbury. At this time the tug and the collection of craft behind were all occupied with some piling work that was going on in the back ground. (It’s interesting to note that Judith Anne has become the Judith Ann!)
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3 Images of Judith Anne undergoing restoration at Puttenham in March 2007 (Photo by Christine Cauldwell)
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(Photo by Dan Cauldwell)
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(Photo by Dan Cauldwell)
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2011 Mid-restoration, a close-up of the bow, Curdworth (Photo by Dan Cauldwell)
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12 thoughts on “BCN Tugs – Judith Anne

  1. Nice article, are you going to credit all the photographs, as no one seems to have asked permission to use mine. Also some details are incorrectly transcribed.
    Regards
    Dan

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    1. Hi Dan

      Many apologies about not asking permission regarding some of the images, I’m more than happy to add credits, or remove any image if permission is not forthcoming.

      One of the problems I seem to be increasingly finding is, as a result of internet trawls, the facts about who took the images, when and where etc. are often missing…

      Any help you can provide with regard to images in this post or factual inaccuracies would be very much appreciated.

      best wishes

      Nick

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  2. Hi Nick thank you for your reply. I’m at work at the moment but when I get home I’ll send you some updated information and photos to where we’re at at the moment. It’s my parents that own her, not me but I can fill in alot of blanks for you.
    Regards
    Dan

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  3. Hi Nick, to add to the above.
    Judith Anne is coming along fine. Just to pick up on the engine, Her original engine was not a Kelvin F2, that is what is currently fitted. We have however decided to swap this for an AS2, which is due to happen imminently. Her cabin is pretty much completed, and is ready for painting. Her fit out will begin later this year, and we are also planning to take her to the Pelsall festival again. I have recently purchased an ex BCN day boat, BCN 1645, built by Alfred Hickman, to pair with her, but again this needs total restoration. We are currently trying to source some original guard iron for her to complete what was missing, notably around the counter block, and a top strake. This, however is proving difficult!
    Hope this helps
    Dan

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    1. Hi Dan

      Really fascinating. Thanks so much for the update. Good luck and best wishes for the ongoing restoration.

      Cheers

      Nick

      ps. re. BCN 1645, our boat Eileen BCN 18686 is a conversion of Alfred Hickman day boat, registered in 1903.

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  4. Also, the bottom 3 pictures should be credited to me, and the one of the replanking should be credited to my mum, Christine Cauldwell.
    Dan

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    1. Hi Dan

      Thanks for the links – that’s one excellent elum! We renovated 18686’s elum last Winter. It was originally wooden, but at some later point sections have been encased in steel… it’s therefore hugely heavy too!

      In my research into Eileen/18686’s history, I’ve currently reached a bit of a dead-end when it comes to finding more details of her life in the Hickman fleet, if you find any productive lines of enquiry into 1645’s history I’d be fascinated to know of them…

      best wishes

      Nick

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  5. Many thanks, it took some time to make, in true BCN style of use what you have lying around!! If I find anything out I’ll certainly pass it on to you regarding Eileen!

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