Painted Boats

Date: 1945
Director: Charles Crighton
Production Company: Ealing Studios

Stars: Jenny Laird, Megs Jenkins, Harry Fowler, Robert Griffiths, Bill Blewitt, May Hallatt, Madoline Thomas, Grace Arnold
Location(s): Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, London, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands

Region(s): , , , ,


A semi-documentary, light drama following the lives of two families living on the canal boats of Britain in the mid 1940s.

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Screen captures uploaded by Phil Wilkinson

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Ted Stoner (Robert Griffiths) runs towards the upper lock gates. Stoke Bruerne Top Lock and Bridge Number 53 on the Grand Union Canal in the village of Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire.

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This and all uncredited "now" shots provided by Lionel and Cynthia Sear. They advise that this is the top lock of the Stoke Bruerne flight. The still shows the lock empty with the bottom gates open. In our shot the lock is almost empty, the bottom gates are shut and the lock is filling. (RL)

The lock's lower gates are closed on "Golden Boy" and butty (an unpowered boat). Stoke Bruerne.

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The top lock at Stoke Bruerne again here seen from the road bridge. As always, Lionel and Cynthia have matched the still as far as possible with two boats in the empty lock and the gates being shut prior to filling the lock. Behind is the Stoke Bruerne complex that receives many visitors, the Canal Museum is on the top right and the Boat Inn an the left. The footbridge in the foreground being a relatively new addition. (RL)

The boats rise in the lock behind Ted. The Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne.

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The top lock at Stoke Bruerne again, this time seen from the top gates. The side paddle is open and the lock almost full. (RL)

The Barmaid from The Boat Inn, Gladys (Megs Jenkins), comes out to see Ted. Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire.

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The Boat Inn where Lionel and Cynthia naturally "tarried" and as a result can report "a gem of a pub which has been in the same family for many years. The rooms fronting the canal are almost unchanged from the time of the film and indeed well before." (RL)

Ted says goodbye to Gladys and jumps aboard "Golden Boy". Stoke Bruerne.

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Lionel and Cynthia Sear captured the same scene for us and even took the trouble to ensure that the left side paddle was fully open. Such perfectionists that they are. They mention that the building on the far right is the building from whence the famed Sister Mary Ellen Ward provided a midwife/district nurse service to the canal people. (Referred to in Capture 25).

Gayton Junction near Blisworth. The junction is where the Northampton Branch leaves the Main Line of the Grand Union Canal. Northamptonshire.

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Gayton Junction. Turn right here to go to Northampton and the River Nene, carry straight on for the Grand Union to Birmingham. (RL)

Alf Stoner (Harry Fowler) cycles ahead to the Toll Office. Bridge 184 near Uxbridge, Middlesex.

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There is no access to the opposite bank. (RL)

Alf rides down onto the towpath. Near Uxbridge Lock.

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One is constrained without access to the other bank but the water inlet to the left in the capture is at the bottom of the picture here. (RL)

An Official (Arthur Denton) calculates the toll payable. Bridge 184 near Uxbridge Lock on the Grand Union Canal. Close to Denham Marina off Sanderson Road, Uxbridge in Middlesex.

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At least I was able to capture a working barge to complete the scene. (RL)

"Golden Boy" and butty "Blackbird" set off again. The Grand Union Canal near Uxbridge, Middlesex.

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The screen capture was taken from what is now clearly private property. (RL)

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A documentary style montage of canal views is narrated. Gregor Baddley advises that this is looking south towards Perry Barr locks on the Tame Valley Canal as it passes through what was Staffordshire. In the distance can be seen the chimneys and waste heaps of the former Hamstead Colliery which closed in 1965 to be replaced by housing,

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Gregor Baddley identifies this as the Tame Valley Canal north of Perry Barr locks in the Birmingham district of Great Barr. The nearer bridge is Green Lane Viaduct and the further one the since replaced A4041 Newton Road viaduct.

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With his comparison shot, Gregor Baddley shows the same section of the Tame Valley Canal looking north towards the junction with the Rushall Canal.

Bottle kilns galore. Gregor Baddley advises that this is Longport Wharf and the Dalehall Pottery in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire looking towards Etruria.

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Gregor tells us that the Dalehall Pottery is still in operation as Steelite International although the the bottle kilns are long gone.

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Barton Road Swing Bridge on the Manchester Ship Canal in Barton upon Irwell near Eccles, Greater Manchester (formerly Lancashire). The bridge was also seen in 'Cup Fever' and 'A Taste of Honey'.

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Taken from the opposite side of the bridge, Gregor Baddley provides this shot of the location now.

Bill (John Owers) stops his lorry when he sees the Stoner's boats approaching. Station Road, Blisworth, Northamptonshire.

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Station Road Bridge (south side,) at Blisworth which is No. 49 in the canal numbering system. This shot is taken from Lionel and Cynthia's boat but the original is from the towpath. (RL)

The conscripted ex boatman runs towards his family. The Grand Union Canal running through Blisworth.

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Looking north from up on Station Road Bridge. Lionel and Cynthia point out that some liberties were taken with the continuity here as the actor is seen getting on to the canal on the towpath side in paibo015 but here he is on the opposite side which is nearly always private land as is the case here thus restricting their access. (RL)

Mrs Stoner (Madoline Thomas) is steering the butty "Blackbird" when she and her Daughter (Grace Arnold) spot Bill. The Grand Union Canal, Blisworth with the West Coast Main Line railway passing over the bridge in the background.

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Looking at the railway bridge from their boat, the water tower, presumably from the days of steam, has gone, the metalwork on the bridge has been enclosed in concrete and the line electrified. Is that Cynthia playing the part of Mrs Stoner? (RL)

Bill notices that his lorry is blocking the road and says goodbye to his Wife and Mother in Law. The Grand Union Canal, Blisworth.

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There have been massive changes here and this is Lionel and Cynthia's best guess and a case of “this must be the spot”. They knew that they must be very close to the railway which is hidden by the trees in this shot. (RL)

Mary Smith (Jenny Laird) leads the horse whilst Pa Smith (Bill Blewitt) prepares the boards to 'leg' the boat through Blisworth Tunnel. This is the south portal of the tunnel near Stoke Bruerne.

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The southern entrance to Blisworth Tunnel as seen from their boat.

Mary take the horse over the hill as her parents 'leg' "Sunny Valley" through Blisworth Tunnel. Close to the junction with Knock Lane on Stoke Road near Blisworth, Northamptonshire.

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There are a number of ventilation shafts serving Blisworth Tunnel. This is the most northerly one not far from the northern entrance to the tunnel. The shaft has gained a lightning conductor and some strengthening bands.

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Another montage of canal scenes. An unconfirmed location. A double track railway line passes over the canal on a skew bridge just out of shot to the right and Gregor Baddley recognised the location as the Thames and Severn canal at Chalford in Gloucestershire. The view is looking east and the spire of Christchurch can just be made out to the left of the mill chimney.

Gregor Baddley advises that as looking along Etruria Vale Road, Stoke on Trent towards Etruria with Shelton Bar steelworks in the distance. The Duke of Bridgwater public house stands on the corner of Rectory Street to the right of centre but has been replaced.

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Gregor provides this up to date shot of the same stretch of road.

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Bull's Bridge on the Grand Union canal in Hounslow, Middlesex. Also seen in 'The Bargee'.

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Bull's Bridge on the Grand Union canal in Hounslow. The area has been redeveloped.

Ted's Mother waits for the Midwife to attend to her Daughter.

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Not a now shot but a picture from 'Michael Balcon: The Pursuit of British Cinema'.

Mary and Ted visit The Boat Inn. Alongside the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne. The pub remains open and is still run by the same family.

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Another view of the Boat Inn. Lionel had to lay down on the ground to get the right perspective for this shot giving some amusement to the many tourists. Superb accuracy Lionel, thank you and you entertained the tourists. (RL)

Horses are led over the bridge. Bridge Road, Stoke Bruerne near Towcester in Northamptonshire.

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Lionel and Cynthia Sear provide us with a new shot to replace the Google View from Tonyk. (RL)

A general view of Stoke Bruerne Top Lock in Northamptonshire.

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Lionel and Cynthia replace Tonyk"s Google Street view that has stood for over 5 years.

The Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne.

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Looking across the canal from near the Canal Museum towards the Boat Inn. Restored working boat ‘Sculptor’ is in just the right spot. (RL)

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Middleport Wharf on the Trent and Mersey Canal off Port Street in Longport, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire.

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Gregor Baddley provides this comparison showing that the wharf buildings still stand but the kilns have gone.

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Establishing shot of Braunston, Northamptonshire with the spire of All Saints Church in the left background.

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After the death of her father, Mary and her Mother (May Hallatt) walk from the church. Braunston, Northamptonshire located with help from the website

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Mary and her Mother reach the towpath. Braunston Marina off the A45 just south of the village in Northamptonshire.

After her Father passes away, Mary decides to carry on working the now motorised boat on her own. This appears to be one of a flight of seven locks on the Grand Junction Canal south of Stoke Bruerne.

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The third lock down the Stoke Bruerne flight of seven locks. Cynthia skilfully navigates narrow boat 'Hawkweed’ into the empty lock without hitting anything. (RL)

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Mary and Alf pass Kensal Green Gas Works. The Grand Union Canal in London W10.

Passing through Willesden in London NW10 overshadowed by Acton Lane Power Station.

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The best possible shot of the location now. With thanks to the staff at Lords Builders Merchants for allowing access to their yard. (PW)

"Sunny Valley" heads southward along the Grand Union Canal through Kensal Town. The buildings to the left stand on Harrow Road in W10 and the paler brickwork is the back of The Flora public house. Adela Street, a location in 'Steptoe and Son' is somewhere on the right.

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The same, slightly redeveloped location. (PW)

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Mary Smith and Alf Stoner head through the busy docks towards the Thames. Limehouse in E14.

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What looks like a pair of Thames sailing barges sail by. Unconfirmed location.

Mary steers "Sunny Valley" from the canal onto the River Thames 'where the Boatmen meet the Seamen'. Limehouse, London E14.

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Now the French steer from the River Thames into the Limehouse Marina amid a much changed river frontage. (RL)