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Back cabin stove for narrow boats

I am often asked to provide a stove for the back cabin of a working narrow boat. More often than not original examples of these stoves are missing and only a handful of boats in the Uk actually have one still on board. All sorts of different stoves were used, not necessarily models specific to boats although there were several types produced back in the day.
The most common examples I have seen are the Guidwife, Beetonette and Larbert portable ranges but it was the Guidwife in particular that the boatmen and women preferred and it is a Guidwife that is the only remaining original stove in any Uk museum collection. These would all have been of the 24″ wide variety for Butty boats with a depth varying from 16″-17″ excluding the trivets that clipped onto the front of the range.
All would have had slight modifications to ‘marinise’ them for example the feet would have been removed and a brass ‘fiddle rail’ or ‘galley rail’ would have been fitted. This stopped any pots and pans falling off the hot plate should the boat get knocked or bashed when out on its daily duties.
The stove would have sat on the swim plate on the left hand side as you entered through the cabin doors at the stern.
Rarer still is the 20″ Larbert stove that was used for motorboats. Motorboats provide a problem since unlike the Butty, they have a deep Gunwale that limits the space for the stove sat on the swim plate.. The 20″ Larbert sat neatly into the back cabin however and was complete with all its ornaments like the polished brass fiddle rail.
There are several back cabin stoves now commonly used on boats of all shapes and sizes but all are reproductions and are not authentic to the historic working boat. These are the ubiquitous ‘Epping’ stove, the ‘Stratford 1910’ and the ‘Premier’ the later being based on the ‘Nipper’ stove that had some limited use in working boats in the past.
Here at O.J.Osborne & Co we can source, restore and provide you authentic original examples of back cabin stoves. 24″ examples are extremely rare but they do come up and I always try to keep a couple in stock.


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