Joseph Bushell and his two sons Joseph and Charles, worked in partnership until 1950 when they retired. One of the boats they made was known as Progress. This was in about 1929 [Ed. 1934] when there was a short revival in the canal system.
Government money was put in and it was decided that instead of the ordinary narrow boat they would have a slightly larger barge and alter the canal system to take it right through from the Thames to the other river systems. It was much larger than the ordinary narrow boat and therefore had a much larger engine, and even boasted a revolving wheel (like a ship’s wheel), instead of the barge tiller.
This boat was launched with some difficulty as boats were launched broadside on at New Mill and this required considerable skill, especially with this larger boat. They could not put the top fittings on because it would not go under the bridges before they got it to the Warwick/Birmingham branch where it was to start work.
After the fitting had been completed, a member of the Royal family sailed it through the first locks. I am sorry to say that, through no fault of the builders, the steering gear failed at the first attempt because it was too sluggish to control a boat going through the canal locks where they have to swing on the tiller to make the boat move sideways. The engine was too powerful and too fast for canal work, so it all had to be modernised and by the time it was sailing the impetus had gone out of the whole affair and the Government had decided that there was another recession and no more money was available for the canals, but it was a great attempt.