Reliance is a Humber motor barge, built in 1933 by Harkers of Knottingley.  This type of barge is still a familiar sight in the north east and there are quite a few Yorkshire barges to be spotted on the Thames.  She and her sister ship, Venture, were built to carry coal from the Yorkshire collieries down to York.  She was then sold off and spent the 1960’s doing general cargo delivery on the Humber.

Rapid industrial growth in the 19th century brought a massive demand for coal from the Yorkshire
collieries. The roomy holds of these craft provided a cheap, efficient and, at that time, speedy method of transport.  Reliance was launched 10 days after Venture (pictured below). The skipper
has taken down the upper part of the small wheelhouse, possibly to navigate a low bridge.  Reliance’s wheelhouse has been replaced, but the top half can still be taken down, which extends her cruising range.

Venture croppedReliance is divided into 3 watertight compartments. The fo’c’sle originally had bunks and a stove, though it is unlikely the crew lived aboard permanently. The cargo hold was 50’ long and covered by curved wooden hatches and tarpaulins when laden. The modern steel roof follows the lines of the old hatch covers.  The engine room originally housed a Widdop, but was later fitted with a 4 cylinder Perkins diesel engine generating 58hp.  The rear portion of the engine room is now divided off to provide a back cabin. Since coming down south, Reliance has cruised upriver as far as Oxford and downriver to Bow Creek and up the River Lee.