When you see Steam Narrowboat President, you will normally find that Kildare is not far behind. Kildare is currently used as a support boat for the crew of Friends of President, but this has not always been the case and has an interesting story of her own.
click the headings below and delve into Kildare’s Story and learn more about this historic vessel.
Kildare was first registered at Birmingham on the 18th April 1913. She was built by Braithwaite & Kirk as one of 24 Iron Composite Butties for Fellows Morton & Clayton Ltd.
Little is known about Kildare‘s life with FMC, except for sporadic appearances in the Canal Inspector’s Journal and the FMC Dock Book.
Kildare traded first as a horse boat but would also have been towed by steamers and the newly introduced semi-diesel motorboats, working regular services between London and Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Leicester, Derby and Nottingham.
On the 1st November 1940, enemy bombing of Birmingham saw Kildare and two other boats damaged and sunk when New Warwick Wharf was hit. Kildare was re-floated and repaire. It was probably at this point that the boat acquired its first riveted steel bottom. There is still a plate on the port side of the hull which was a repair of the damaged sustained.
After 35 years of service under FMC ownership, Kildare was sold to Ernie Thomas of Walsall.
After two more changes of ownership, the boat was purchased alongside FMC Motor Plover by ‘Warwickshire Fly boat Company’ in 1973.
The boat was renamed Kildare and then refitted as a camper boat with a reskinned steel back cabin.
Both Plover (an ex-FMC motor) and Kildare were kitted out to accommodate 12 persons each under the canvas sheets making them popular with Guides, Scouts and other youth groups when they entered service in 1974.
In 1991, Kildare was purchased by the Black Country Living Museum to be restored to its original appearance to work with President and act as Support boat for FoP
In 1992, Kildare was renovated by Warwickshire Fly Boat Company and Friends of President. During this time, the fore cabin, which had been removed at some point in the boat’s career, was reinstated along with a new towing mast, stands, cross planks, top planks, side cloths and top cloths. Kildare was painted in early FMC Livery and the hold fitted out to provided accommodation and support facilities. On the 11th April, Kildare set out on her first voyage behind President.
On the return trip from Nottingham, later in 1992, to the Black Country Living Museum, Kildare was horse drawn up the Wolverhampton 21. The plan was for Kildare to be taken by horse back to the museum, however the steam from president, under the bridge, confused the horse and she walked into the canal. The Fire Brigade was called and the horse was eventually rescued.
In 2005, following a hull survey, Kildare had extensive repairs to the hull which involved replacing the bottom and footings from the bow to the back end. At the same time the galley area and fresh water system was refitted.
In 2008, Kildare was again horse drawn, this time down the Wolverhampton 21 and was horse drawn back to the museum at the end of the season.
In 2013, Kildare had her centenary and part of the celebrations saw Kildare horse drawn to Stoke Bruerne Gala Weekend and back to Braunston.
2015 saw Kildare removed from the water, the hull cheek plates were replaced and a new traditional timber cabin was built by Ian Kemp. Kildare was repainted in early FMC Livery. The back cabin was fitted out with a new Epping stove and the hold crewing arrangements also saw some modifications before being put back into the water.