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F W & A Sephton, Boat Builders


Records of F W & A Sephton, Boat Builders: ledgers 1889-1900, stationery 1920s, memo concerning Hawkesbury Yard 1937.



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Access Status

These records are available immediately for research

Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

By the 1840s, Francis Sephton was running a boatyard at Hawkesbury Junction and in 1857 he built the Boat Inn in Blackhorse Road. On his death in 1892, his sons Francis, William and Andrew took over the business (and their sons inherited after). Before 1863, a branch of the family established a boatyard at Tusses Bridge over the Oxford Canal, which was also handed down through the generations. Frederick Sephton also briefly ran another boatyard at Polesworth on the Coventry Canal but this closed on his death in 1898. The boats built by the Sephtons had a good repute due to their being able to carry an extra ton. Possibly the only Sephton-built boat still in existence is Friendship of 1924, on display at the Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port. The boatyards also carried out routine maintenance on boats, with wooden boats usually docked every two or three years. Owners of docked boats (usually a boatman with one boat) were able to hire a boat kept by the boatyard for the purpose. Emergency repairs were also carried out. The Sephton family also ran a canal carrying business, and between 1879 and 1931 they had more than 70 boats registered. These boats were wooden, horse-drawn craft that mainly worked the Coventry, Oxford and Grand Junction canals. By the time of the First World War, canal transport was in decline. Owner-boatmen were unable to keep working and since they supplied the majority of Sephton's custom, the boatyards were obliged to close also. Hawkesbury boatyard seems to have closed in 1932 and Tusses Bridge boatyard closed not long afterwards. For more information on F W & A Sephton, Boat Builders see Robert Hamilton's 'A Family of Boatbuilders' in Waterways World (Waterways World Ltd, April 2005, pp 96-100).

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore been arranged in chronological order.