The Blackcountry Man trip boat is pretty well known in the area and many local people would have been onboard but a recent edition of “Towpath Talk” , the ever popular newspaper for canal boat enthusiasts, recently featured a 2-page spread about the boat, its history and indeed its current role on the Stourbridge Arm.
Here are the extracts for Towpath Talk for your information:
“Black Country people were once the backbone of the Industrial Revolution – foundry workers, miners, glass turners – and the narrowboat with the namesake The Blackcountry Man is a living tribute to the heritage of local people. The Blackcountry Man was built in 1948 by Harris Brothers in Netherton for Stewarts & Lloyds of Halesowen.
It’s thought to be the last full-length 70ft boat built of riveted plates in the Black Country. In its more recent transformation, The Blackcountry Man was fitted with a Lister diesel engine, but was originally unpowered and would have been towed by a tug, a horse, or even the might of a man.
The boat was used for trade on the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) until it changed career to become a maintenance craft for British Waterways (now the Canal & River Trust). Like many of the historic canal boats that have survived, The Blackcountry Man’s raison d’être had to be fluid with the times. In 1986 she was spectacularly converted to a passenger-carrying vessel for the Stoke on Trent National Garden Festival with the Queen Mother as prime guest. In 1991 she changed hands and was restored, and spruced up for new purpose in Stourbridge. The boat’s original crews would probably have raised their eyebrows over the addition of some fancies such as soft cushioned seats, side windows, loos, wheelchair access, taped music and (for goodness’ sake) a bar.
In her latest guise, The Blackcountry Man is a trip boat that carries passengers from the distinctive round-walled Bonded Warehouse to Stourton and Kinver. The journey can be enjoyed as a floating escape to the quiet backwaters of the Midlands, or seen as a voyage to discover local heritage or even a brazen excuse to experience this historic boat at intimate quarters. Like many of the best canal treasures, this boat refuses to retire. When the much respected boat operator Mick Bourne retired, Tom Downing and his father Andy took up the baton. Tom became the youngest boat master in the country at the age of 18, and he and his boat, The Blackcountry Man, both became national record breakers with local pride.
Cruises on The Blackcountry Man run from The Bonded Warehouse in Stourbridge along the Stourbridge Arm Canal and the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. They also run special themed cruises and are available for private charter.”
Dates and timings vary and a full schedule of trips for 2019 together with an online Booking Enquiry Form can be found on the Stourbridge Navigation Trust website: