Documents on file
Letter from T Kavanagh (filed under Dagmar) ts 14.11.2001
Article by H A Illingworth (see under)
CANAL STEAMERS AT CHESTER IN EARLY 20th CENTURY
The "ROCKET" and "LEADER" were tugs belonging to the S.U. Ry & Co and were employed for towing strings of barges and narrow boats on the level between the foot of Northgate Locks Chester and Ellesmere Port. They were I think a little shorter than the steam barges and only 6 6 beam. They were very heavily built, probably by the Canal Company at Whipcord Lane yard, of 2oak planking on closely spaced sawn oak frames about 4 square at the head, the bow and stren being heavily armoured with cope irons about 4 wide. They had powerful cast iron propellers and were ballasted with about 4 tons of pig iron laid in the bilges between the frames (I know because I lifted it out pf the "LEADER";) ;
The machinery had obviously been built, by the London and North West Railway Company at Crewe they being owners of S.U. Ry & C. Co guaranteeing a modest dividend. The boilers were probably a small standard Crewe pattern, the dome and safety valve covers being pure Crewe. The boilers were double high pressure and laid horizontally athwartships. They carried a cast iron box pinion on the end of the crankshaft gearing into a spur-wheel on the propeller shaft having wooden cogs.
The usual tow was anything up to a dozen barges and narrowboats and perhaps more. As canal traffic fell away,the tugs were laid up, LEADER eventually becoming derelict in Chester Canal Basin. ln the early 1920's the Chester & Liverpool Lighterage Company in an attempt to revive the canal trade, restored "ROCKET to service and she worked again for a short time.