'Duchess Countess' Afloat on the Montgomery

Martin Grundy recalls

I did know "Duchess Countess" when she was afloat. My father had bought our first boat "Herron" in the Spring of 1945. She was then named "Hobson's Choice", having previously belonged to Hobson Greenwood (Dennis Greenwood's father). She was lying just above the stop planks at Lock Gate Bridge Cottage below Frankton Locks at the junction with the Weston Arm.

We spent the whole Summer in 1945 on that mooring trying to get the engine going. At that time Mackie was living on "Duchess Countess" which moored outside Beech's Dock on the off side. We would go and get milk from Hyde's Farm every morning (on the right bank going down the locks) and would meet Mackie doing the same thing. You took your own milk can in those days and the milk was dipped out of the churn!

We brought "Heron" up the locks in August 1945 with some difficulty because they were in a very poor state. The canal men from Ellesmere came to help and racked the gates with ashes. I think I can say for certain that "Heron" was the last boat but one to come up Frankton Locks. "Duchess Countess" would be the last and I don't know exactly when that was. It would be the very late summer of 1945 or early spring of 1946. My recollection is that "Duchess Countess" was on the bank out of the water 100 yards beyond the first bridge on the Llangollen Arm when we went back in the summer of 1946.

I took a photo of her on 29th September 1951 when Mackie was living aboard. I also took a photo of him. He was very shy and I remember that I was only able to take a photograph of him by having a friend of mine in the picture as well. I enclose a copies of both these photos for you to keep.

I never went on board "Duchess Countess" when she was afloat, though I did on 29th September 1951. Mackie showed me some newspaper cuttings of photos of "Duchess Countess" when she had the knife blade on the bow. I asked him where the knife was now (1951) and he said he thought it was in a shed by the canal at Stockton Heath. I never followed this up- I wish I had1 Harry Arnold later told me that the knife off the bow had 'turned up'. Harry had always thought it was one of the items 'rescued' from "Duchess Countess" and taken to Ellesmere Yard. However, Harry speculates that if Mackie told me it was left at Stockton Heath - which he did - then it might be that the knife which turned up is the one off the "Inspector" or the Manager's boat "Neptune", both of which had similar devices on the bow. I have a photo taken by my father in 1934 of a boat at Ellesmere basin on which you can just see the knife blade. I believe this was the "Inspector" but I cannot be sure.

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