Early years & demise

By Peter Andrews
(All photos by Peter Andrews, except where shown)

Raymond was the last wooden butty to be built at Braunston, and probably the last built anywhere.

(All photos by Peter Andrews, except where shown)

Photo: Coventry Evening Telegraph
Raymond was launched in 1958 and was mainly used to carry coal from the Midlands to London. She was initially towed by the motor Roger and later by Nutfield.  Throughout their working life they were operated by Arthur and Rose Bray and her son Ernie Kendall.  One of the more famous jobs was carrying coal from Atherstone to the Kearley & Tonge jam factory at Southall, known as the “Jam ‘Ole Run”.
Photo: Coventry Evening Telegraph
Trade ceased in 1970 but the Brays continued to live aboard until, in 1980, they sold Raymond to Jim & Doris Collins (in the photograph) who lived aboard until 1993.She was then taken to Runcorn where it was expected that she would be restored. However, she fell further into disrepair and sank. In 1996 she was acquired by the “Friends of Raymond” and in April 1997 was refloated and towed to the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley where decisions could be better made about how to proceed with the resoration.
 Rayr04 Phil Babb was appointed to do the restoration but before Raymond could be moved to his work-place at Tardebigge she had sunk again. Inspection showed that she was now too rotten to be moved (either by road or water) and so she was dis-assembled at Dudley and all the useable materials salvaged.
Rayr05Falling Clearly new timber would be needed and, since elm was no longer available, opepe was obtained (with the help of BW) from West Africa for the bottom of the boat. The oak for the sides came from Epping Forrest by courtesy of the Epping Wildlife Trust.