George the master fender-maker
George has been making fenders for 40 years and is a well-known figure in the boating community. He talks to us about the art of fender-making and shows us how it’s done.
We visited George and his wife Carol at their home near Bawtry to learn more about fender-making. Heritage trainees Dan and Adam, along with volunteers Richard and Michael came along as well, so that George could show them his skills with the ropes and pass on some hints and tips from the trade.
George learnt his craft from two working boatmen, Jack Monk and Ike Argent over 40 years ago. His garage is entirely made over to ropes and fenders. It is a workshop from which George supplied a hireboat fleet for 25 years. Today, he still takes on private commissions and sells his wares from his boat Penny whenever they are travelling round the system.
“There’s no tricks to making fenders. It’s just one knot after another.”George Findley
Why did you start making fenders?
It was very simple. We were out boating and we needed a fender. I saw Jack Monk sitting at the side of the towpath making one and I asked him ‘How do you do that?’ he said, ‘If you really want to know, I’ll show you.”
What has kept you doing it for all these years?
Well it started off as just a hobby. I worked as a miner back then and I used to take the ropes into work with me so that I could practice with them. Then different people started asking me to make a fender for them. After a while Sea Otter approached me. They were a hire boat fleet and I supplied each and every one of their boats with a fender. My wife used to tell people that you’ll never see a Sea Otter boat with a flat fender.
What is so special about the art of fender-making?
In today’s world people expect everything to be done at the touch of a button. If it can’t be made on a machine a lot of folk aren’t interested in learning. But there’s no tricks to making fenders. It’s just one knot after another.
Watch the video
Take a look at George in action, and see our heritage trainees having a go as well
It’s not just George who practices traditional canal crafts in Bawtry. His wife Carol paints beautiful canalware, which she also sells from their boat when they are out on the system.
Our thanks to George and Carol for both their time and their ongoing contributions to our heritage crafts.
Last date edited: 13 November 2020