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Engine Rally Report





Bugsworth Basin
Road Vehicles
Stationary Engines
Narrowboat Engine Installations
The Winners



I had met Mike Johnson... the Chairman of the Gardner Engine Society last year at the Cotton Arms in Wrenbury when he was the guest of Michelle and Ian Gilbody. We had kept in touch and he had since asked me to judge narrowboat engine rooms (or so I thought) at the Gardner Engine Society's Annual Rally held this year at Bugsworth Basin on the Peak Forest Canal. As it turned out I was not only to judge the Narrowboat Engines but the Static Engine Displays and Road Going Vehicles as well! I was flattered to have been asked to judge the Narrowboat Engines and even more flattered when that responsibility was to cover other categories as well. We arrived early morning and most of the narrowboats had already arrived. Throughout the morning other attendees arrived by road either on trailers, on the back of lorries or under their own power.

As it would have been impractical for us to attend the Rally by boat due to time constraints so we went by car and as the rally was over two days we booked a room at the Navigation Inn adjacent to Bugsworth Basin. As soon as we arrived I went into "anorak mode"... taking photographs not only of the beautiful location but of the boats, engines and vehicles as well as inspecting them where possible, without raising too much suspicion as to whether I was the Judge or not as Mike and I wanted to keep the judging as anonymous as possible.

The Navigation Inn... where we stayed over the weekend of the rally


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Bugsworth Basin

Bugsworth Lower Basin... this beautiful location is chosen by many canal and boat societies for their rallies and the Gardner Engine Society is no exception

I had not visited Bugsworth Basin before as the last time I cruised the Peak Forest Canal was over twenty years prior to it's restoration. This location was originally the terminus of the Peak Forest Canal and as such was an important inland port and transhipment facility for the Peak Forest Tramway until the Tramway's closure in 1927. It's importance had long been forgotten but this was rekindled when restoration commenced in 1968, scheduled as an Ancient Monument in 1977 and reopened at Easter 1999. However, there was a problem with the original puddled clay canal bed lining and the basins had to be closed and drained in October of that year. Remedial work costing £1·2 million was carried out by British Waterways and the Inland Waterways Protection Society allowing reopening on the 26th March 2005. The Basins are now a Transport Heritage Site and possesses the customary red plaque (below). The complex consists of a Lower Basin and an Upper Basin with arms off each. As well as a transhipment facility the area was dotted with industry. Next to the lower Basin was once a Rock Crushing Plant and Lime Kilns were located alongside the Wide. The Upper Basin Arm was once spanned by a covered warehouse long demolished but the spindly remains of the narrowboat entrance can still be seen.


The red numbers on the map correspond to those on the photographs below

1 - Gauging Narrows and Sanitary Station

2 - Horse Bridges leading to the Lower Basin and Arm with the Wide on the right

 3 - Some of the twenty one narrowboats attending the 2011 Gardner Engine Rally in the Lower Basin

4 - Lower Basin Arm

5 - Middle Basin

6 - Middle Basin Arm

7 - Upper Basin

8 - Precarious remains of the warehouse entrance that once spanned the Upper Basin Arm


The aptly named "Bugsworth Bug"... a local resident

(Not fitted with a Gardner)

Explanatory poster in the windscreen of the "Bugsworth Bug"



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Road Vehicles

Series 2 Landrover

Rolls Royce

Wolseley Super Six

Nissan Patrol

1948 ex-GPO Morris Commercial One Ton Lorry

ERF Articulated Tractor Unit

Foden Articulated Tractor Unit

Foden Tate and Lyle Sugar Tanker

ERF Articulated Tractor and Trailer

Foden Heavy Haulage Tractor Unit

There were a couple of other road vehicles which are not illustrated here. Some of the above were not eligible for being judges as they were not present on the Sunday. All the entries were of a high standard and it is not a pity that the section could be split into Heavy, Medium and Light Vehicles with an award for each section. The same could also be said of the Stationary engines as well.


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Stationary Engines

Gardner 1LW Static (ex-dynamometer)

1L2 Static

2LW Static

3LW Static (gen-set)

4L2 Static

5LW Static

6LW Static

8LW Static

13 HF Static (ex-stationary)

3T4 Static (ex-marine)

3J5 Static (ex-marine)

The static engines at the rally ranged from the sublime (1L2) to the ridiculous (3J5) and everything in between. The smallest engine... a 1L2 arrived on a trailer pulled by a family saloon car whilst the largest... a 3J5 (along with most of the larger statics) was mounted on it's own lorry, naturally powered by a Gardner engine.


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Narrowboat Engine Installations

Most of the narrowboats featured 3LW engines

(Apologies for the poor photographic quality of the 3LW in "Ferrous" - above)

This 2L2 had lots of polished brass including the flywheel cover and cast brass rocker covers

Another 2L2 this time with a coupled mains alternator

Most of the narrowboats at the rally had 3LWs fitted but there was a smattering of 2L2s. The standard of installation was extremely high and it was most difficult choosing a winner from the beautiful engines on show. The rain on Sunday did detract from the standard of photographs especially the photograph of the excellent installation in "Ferrous" as the photograph had to be taken through the window for which I apologise. It is a pity that there is not a Second and Third Place for this category as there were so many that deserved recognition.


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The Award Winners

The judging of the many entries at the rally was a daunting task. There were so many worthy candidates in each category that it was really difficult to chose the winners. I knew that no matter what I decided someone would be disappointed but I tried to be fair and based my decisions on how aesthetically pleasing the entry was, how well the engine ran, overall condition of the engine and how much work had been put into it. Not everyone will agree with my choices but at least I managed to leave the rally without being lynched!

Best Static Engine Display

This Gardner powered Atkinson lorry carried an amazing display of engines...

... ranging from two to eight cylinder Gardners... at one point all of which were running and some even blew smoke rings!


Best Narrowboat Engine Installation

The best Narrowboat Engine went to this 2L2 fitted to nb "Frogmore" which displayed good attention to detail...

... as did the boat it was installed in


Best Road Vehicle and Best Overall

This 1948 ex-GPO Morris Commercial One Tonner scooped Best Vehicle and Best Overall at the Rally

A montage of all the winners at the Rally


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I really enjoyed my visit to the Gardner Engine Rally and I was most flattered to be asked by Mike Johnson to judge the entries in the various categories. It is a shame that the weather took a turn for the worse on the Sunday but hopefully it did not dampen the ardour of those attending. It is a pity that more places could not be awarded as I have previously mentioned... there were so many engines that deserved places and it was very difficult to award the places. There are many other Gardner engines that could not attend the rally such as stationary models, those installed in railway locomotives and larger craft. Maybe there is a need for a Gardner Engine Register which would illustrate the wide diversity of uses that these wonderful examples of British engineering have been put to.

If you are interested in Gardner engines and would like to read more about them and the company who made them visit the websites listed below...











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or select another section below...


  Book 1 - 1960 to 1982


Book 2 - 1983 to 1999

Book 3 - 2000 to 2005

Book 4 - 2006 to 2007


Book 5 - 2008 to 2010

  Book 6 - 2010
  Book 7 - 2011

Book 8 - 2012 (In Preparation)

The History of Lymm Cruising Club

The Duke's Cut - The Bridgewater Canal
The Big Ditch - Manchester's Ship Canal
Shroppie - The Shropshire Union Canal System
Mersey Connections (In Preparation)
Foreign Forays - Canals of the World (In Preparation)
Worsley Canal Heritage Walk
Castlefield Canal Heritage Walk
The Liverpool Docks Link

Don't Call it a Barge

NB Total Eclipse
Canis Canalus
Canalscape Photography 
Lymm Cruising Club Website
Footnote and Acknowledgements
Site Map
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Updated 22-10-2011