Last of the Liverpool Puffers.


Pimbliott’s Yard in the 1950s or 1960s [photo from Northwich Museum]

 VIC27 was built in 1943 by Isaac Pimblott & Sons, Northwich, on the river Weaver in Cheshire.   During WWII, the yard is reported to have built twenty-one VICS for the Ministry of War Transport in two variants – 66 foot and 80 foot. In one year, the yard is known to have produced 8 boats – that is one approximately every six weeks!

The Liverpool register for 1943 shows the VIC27 on the 25th of August as No. 20 with an official number of 168863 under the ownership of the Ministry of War Transport (MOWT).

Although some historical articles about VIC27 suggest that she worked in the Liverpool area for a time, we now know she left Liverpool very soon after being commissioned and headed for the West Coast of Scotland (Source: Log of VIC27 held in National Archive at Kew – see copy here).  She spent about a month in Liverpool, probably getting crew and making ready for her war transport work, and then she sailed to Greenock via Lamlash.


Pimblott’s Yard in 2016

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The yard lies on the west bank of the Weaver Navigation above Hunt’s Lock, a bit over 1 km south of Northwich town centre. The yard is now a “marina” (Jalsea Marine Services), but it does not look as if much has been done to it since it closed in 1971. There are a couple of big fabrication sheds, a brick office building and even some sheerlegs that all clearly date from the shipyard days. There are some modern narrowboats and cruisers tied up and also some historic boats that look as though they have been there a long time. There is also much assorted junk including old fire-engines and ambulances.

The first photo shows the office building and a big square shed from the landward side . The other photos were all taken from the east bank of the canal. These show: (top right) the square shed and the sheerlegs, the adjacent small basin that opens off the canal and the brick building in the background; (middle left) the sheerlegs and an adjacent area of canal bank that must have been the site of the slipways as you can see the sheerlegs next to a boat under construction in the photo from the Northwich Museum (see top of page), and the others show general views of the present canal bank in the area of the original slipways. The Museum also has a view of the last boat to be launched, a tug called the “Glencoe” in 1971. This shows the rather terrifying process of launching sideways off the bank with a huge splash and much rolling. This picture also shows a large hammer-head crane, which has gone.