Severn was originally built as a horse drawn wooden narrowboat (or butty) by Fellows, Morton & Clayton at Uxbridge in 1937. She was built as a tar tanker for Thomas Clayton of Olbury who, being late to change from horses to motors, converted her in 1944 to a motor boat by adapting the back end. After a busy working life carrying approximately 19 tonnes of tar in her wooden tanks beneath the deck she fell in to a period of neglect and lay sunk on an arm in Banbury for many years.
In 1995 she passed into the ownership of Jem Bates and from 1995 to 1997 she was completely replanked at Bates Boatyard at Puttenham on the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal. She was returned to the water at Puttenham with a traditional side launch in 1997 and received the Ken Keay award for the most improved wooden boat of the year. Severn is powered by one of only a handful of Seffle engines in the country. The hot bulb 25hp semi-diesel Seffle was imported from Sweden in the 1950ís by Willow Wren Canal Carrying Company.
Severn is used as a working boat for the boatyard and consequently the hold has been left open to make more use of the carrying space. Besides being a useful tug for the boatyard, she has carried fibre optic cable, metal ingots, aggregate and timber. Bates Boatyard is one of the last boatyards on the canal that is dedicated entirely to the restoration of wooden boats and has once more begun to build new wooden boats. In addition to a number of Ken Keay awards being won for restorations taking place at the yard, we have recently won an Agenda 21 SAVE award for the environmental aspects of our work, such as the use of windblown
oaks and water transportation.