About the John Pinkerton II
The Basingstoke Canal Society has operated a trip boat on the Canal since 1978, when the original John Pinkerton was acquired. That boat has served us well over 36 years, raising nearly £¾ million – all of which has been spent by volunteers from the society on the restoration, maintenance and improvement of the Basingstoke Canal.
The Society was fortunate to have been left a very significant bequest by a former member, Alan Flight, which has enabled us to contemplate, and then actually to take delivery of a specially designed and commissioned new boat, the John Pinkerton II, in April 2013.
The new JP is about 18″ (45cm) wider than its predecessor, though is the same length at 68′ (21m). More luxurious than the original, she is quiet and cruises easily. There is an interior corridor all the way through the boat, making it easier and safer for the crew to operate. The covered cabin is more spacious for passengers, with more flexibility for seating and setting up tables. There is a well stocked bar on board, with light refreshments, tea and coffee. Postcards and souvenirs are on sale. There is a toilet at the back of the boat. On fine days there is opportunity to take the fresh air from the front well deck.
For a while, the Society has wanted to reinstate a trip boat operation at the eastern end of the Basingstoke Canal, having last run trips there about 20 years ago. Not only does this provide us with a “presence” in the Woking area, it compliments the John Pinkerton II trip boat operation that has run for many years at the other end of the Canal in Hampshire.
In early 2016, the chance to fulfill this aspiration arose with the unexpected opportunity to purchase nb Kitty (formerly called Egremont) from the Chichester Canal Trust. Kitty underwent a refurb and repaint (with John Pinkerton colours) in readiness for the Woking Canal Festival in August 2016, where she was introduced to the public and operated as a water taxi (above right). The Festival provided the opportunity to “name” Kitty in traditional fashion (with a bottle of bubbly), with the honours undertaken by Society Co-President Liz Dodwell (left).
Kitty is about 10m (32’) long and 2m (6’ 6”) wide, and is fitted with a Beta-Marine 3-cylinder 1300cc diesel engine. Built in 1987, she started life as a house boat (looking very different from how she appears today) and resided for a time on the Regent’s Canal in Islington. The boat was acquired by and was heavily modified by the Chichester Canal Trust, which included extending the rear deck backwards to facilitate wheelchair access. Unusually, the propeller and rudder are located some 2m (6’) forward from the stern.
Internally, the boat is lined with pine cladding (right), and accommodates up to 12 people on fixed seating down the side of the boat. Tables are available if required. It also has a hydraulic lift, which enables up to two wheelchair users to enjoy the benefits of a trip on the Canal. For more details, see the Kitty trips page. Please note that there are no toilet facilities.
Why did the Society name the boat Kitty, you may well ask. After some deliberation, it was decided to call the boat after a horse of that name that worked on the Canal in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Kitty the horse is pictured on the left with the then Canal Manager, Joan Marshall, who was Liz Dodwell’s mother.