I don’t know if you’re like me, but in the odd quiet moment, for example this morning as I was cycling to work, I daydream about the boat and find myself making a virtual journey through the boat ticking off jobs that’ll need doing to ultimately get the boat to what I see as an ideal state.

This morning, as a watery sun shone, I focused (perversely given the heat) on stoves, in particular the range in the back cabin.

(Ignore the clutter around the stove, this photo was taken way back in October 2011 when we were viewing the boat for the first time.) The range is homemade. Basically it’s an extended Morso stove with welded additions. Closer inspection showed it to have a large gap on the left hand side, where the firebox meets the top-plate. It may fixable… on the other hand it may not. Photo © Nick Holt

I got to thinking about options if the range proves impossible to safely fix, and have started to think about the possibility of replacing it with a bottle stove.

Open day boats would have had a fire bucket, just a basic barrel brazier with holes punched in it, obviously that’s not an option for a 21st C. cabin boat!  A bottle stove however might be an option.

I’ve been a-Googling but can find very few references to bottle stoves. Does anyone know where I might be able to source a picture of a bottle stove in situ in a boat?

In my own archive I could only find the following poor quality photos taken last year from one of Alan Herd’s series about his journey’s around the canal system (they were being repeated on ‘Dave’). They’re of a (very open!) bottle stove in Caggy Stevens’ tug Caggy.

Photo © Nick Holt
Photo © Nick Holt
Photo © Nick Holt
Photo © Nick Holt

7 thoughts on “Perversely I’m Thinking About Stoves…

  1. Doubt whether you’d get away with an open fronted one like that, even on historic grounds. I’m the last person to go all prissy about ‘safety’ but while suitable for a day boat, it might not be something you’d want to sleep with.

    Love your water boiler in the original pic. I’d have been insanely envious if I hadn’t just acquired one of my own.


    1. Hi Sarah

      Yep, I reckon you’re right, however I’m sure I’ve previously seen a less ‘exposed’ version… I just can’t seem to find a picture of one anywhere.

      The boiler’s a beauty though, I was delighted to find it was included when we bought the boat, listed as part of the boat’s fixtures and fittings…

      best wishes



    1. Yep, that was on the inventory too… I’m not sure what kind of condition it’s in so at the moment it’s very much a static model, until I get a chance to take a closer look at it. Very much a Winter evening project I reckon…


  2. There is a bottle stove on Saturn – Which is used and cooked on regularly. There’s a small one in the fore-cabin of Gifford too, which I’ve used. Believe that at least one boat child was killed by CO poisoning in a fore-cabin by one of those stoves.

    I used to have a full-size one in a previous boat – It was terrifying! Prone to running away, and it once melted the soles of my Doc Martens to the foot board. I swapped it for a range, the lucky recipient of the bottle stove later told me it burned a hole through his (inch ply) cabin side. Strongly suggest you fix the home-build or get another range. If you can find a Trueburn (Unlikely, they’re like hens’ teeth) that would be ideal, they’re like a baby Rayburn and (I’m told) will stay in all night on a handful of ‘tater peelings


  3. Cheers for the advice Ray. I’ll try and catch up with ‘Saturn’ or ‘Gifford’ at some point on the ‘water road’. And I’ll keep an eye out for a ‘Trueburn’, it sounds a wonderful range. In the meantime, I reckon remedial welding on the homebuild looks the best option eh!


  4. I opened up a question about fire boats on the History & Heritage Forum on Canal World Forum and received these two highly informative responses which it might be interesting to share:

    From CWF Member ‘Winja’:

    We lit the fires on the empty boats heading from Lane Head to Cannock or Brownhills changed the stove complete with fire over to the loaded boats along with our collection of coats , Donkey Jackets and Trilbys ( ready for rainy days ) worked back to Wednesfield top where all but one stove would be left to die down, these would be transfered again to the empty boats taken back to Lane Head ready for the next day the one remaining stove went on the last empty for use by the steerer stemming the 4 or 5 empty boats…… In very cold weather we also had a fire bucket on bricks on the cabin roof.

    And this from Laurence Hogg:

    Bottle stoves went out of production in the late 1950’s from what i understand, some of the last were made in Tipton carried the “Phoenix” name. Most were designed to be made portable but many were permanent being stood on a tripod of legs, all had a open front with a draw plate with several settings and some had a trivett so you could boil a brew in front of the fire. All had an ashpan. They were very simple in design. The sizes varied, the largest would have been used for instance on a long distance butty ie steamer butty but these are rare to find now. More than likely a 2 or 1 is the commonest around.


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