I see that a recent boater’s survey shows that the average narrowboat owner is over 55 years old. No surprise in that. I suppose that in these days of youth culture it’s nice to be a part of a group nearer to our own age. Other interests have a similar demographic. The other day we went with Rick and Marilyn to a model engineering exhibition. Even just walking from the car park with other attendees, we could see clearly who this show was aimed at. Older men. I think it would be fair to say that 99% of the punters got in at senior citizen rates. (Me too).
Inside, the place was heaving with gentlemen of mature years jostling around stalls selling lathe cutting tools and brass bar and all that. Of course there were lots of models to see. At least half were model railway engines. Not little Hornby jobbies but real 6ft long steam engines. Proper working replicas. One can only imagine the time and expense these models take up. You could just imagine the homes of their builders. The wife indoors practically a widow, while he lives in the shed/ workshop cutting, turning, milling and welding. In the evening he will sit on the sofa, or in bed, poring over catalogues of castings. I imagine many of the wives like it that way. It gets the old man from under her feet.
What was disappointing was that in the whole show I only saw two narrowboat models, both far far below the standard of the railway models. The largest one was a poor copy of a cruiser stern Nb, constructed I imagine from a cursory glance at a few photos. Narrow boat models generally don’t look right anyway as they tend to include the whole hull, which we never see in real life unless the boat is out of the water. The only narrowboat model I ever saw that was up to the standard of the railway engine models was the one shown at the Braunston rally the last two years.
At Banbury Canal Day recently, there were no model boats either. Stationary engines, yes. Model steam engines too, like this rather wonderful replica of a Fowler ploughing engine
and a German toy from the mid part of the last century.
How brilliant is that ?! Not just the engine but a proper working replica boiler and feed pump. Apparently it generates 1/25 of a horsepower. I want one.