Butty Lyra

One of 12 built by Yarwoods of Northwich in 1935 for the Grand Union Canal Carrying fleet. No 306 and originally paired with motor boat Enceladus.

Lyra is a small Northwich Starclass butty, built of riveted steel construction. When built she would have been ‘composite’ meaning she would have had a wooden base plate, which has since been changed to steel.

She would also have had a riveted steel not wooden back cabin. From looking back at old photos it seems like the original cabin was lost sometime in the late 50s during or coming to the end of British Waterways ownership. We believe the current cabin to have been installed in the 80s. It was fairly common for the riveted steel cabins to have rotted away due to water/condensation getting trapped.  If during our ownership the cabin needs replacing we would look into changing back to riveted steel.

So below is a rough history time line for Lyra. I say rough as we are always finding out new information and making alterations. If you have any additional information or notice something is wrong then please contact us.

  • 1935 Built by Yarwoods for G.U.C.C.Co fleet number 306.

  • 1948 Nationalisation of the BW fleet, we can see from the waterways archive Lyra worked for Sid and Eleanor Mitchell and their dog Tim. There are many photos from this time in archive or Lyra carrying bulk cargo mainly coal.

  • Here we have a gap but have heard that she may have been owned by Barry Lycett during this period.

  • 1971 Lyra started work for the Collier brothers Andy & Timothy. During this time she did varied work from carrying cargo to scout and guide camping trips. I have had the pleasure of talking to Timothy who has shared many memories and photos. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Tim & Andys book please click here!

  • 1978 Pete Fincher purchased Lyra  from the Collier Brothers.

  • 1980's she was purchased from Pete Fincher by Mike & Bev Strainer.

  • Some point between these two we thing that Rex Wain had something to do with Lyra……..?

  • 1988-90s Lyra was used by the King family who lived aboard her and motor boat Freedom No 4. I have had the opportunity to talk with Job King who grew up on Lyra he has told me lots of stories. We even found a note he had written on the back of the ticket draw when he was young.

  • 2005 Lyra became well known fender maker Ben Selfe’s workshop for his business Knot Krazy. Interesting story here……  Some of you may know the book Northern Lights that was made into a Film The Golden Compass.  This follows the story of a 12 year old Lyra Belacqua who runs away from the Ossified atmosphere of a parallel universe oxford university to join canal boatman. Long story short it turns out Ben did all the rope work on the Ma Costa’s dutch barge for the film and even skippered it during filming. What a coincidence his boat shared the same name as the lead in the story. Such a shame Ben had passed away before we got to meet him.

  • Lyra was purchased from Ben Selfe by R.W Davis at Saul Junction on the Gloucester& Sharpness canal. They did much work to Lyra over the years replacing and repairing where was needed.

  • 2015 Here is where Lyra started her journey with us. Working for our company Reverie Canal Trading Co keeping an old butty on the water, unmolested and on a commercial licence. Working like she has in one form or another most of the time since 1935.

If you feel you would like to donate towards our business and of course Lyra then please use the Paypal donate button opposite. Help keep us 'afloat'.