A gent has emailed:
I have been looking on the net trying to find a salvage yard for boats. Do you know of any? UK-based canal narrow boats - smoke damage, fire damage, shell damage.
I don't know of any specific 'elephant's graveyard' of narrowboats. There's no central, specific, place that they all gather to be scrapped or recycled. One solution might be to ask a boat broker who's not afraid to deal with such problem boats. I understand that specialist broker Loretta Hardie of Boat Shop UK is always coming across such likely hulls.
Perhaps the best-known collection of derelict narrowboats is at Charity Dock near Bedworth, on the Coventry Canal [location here]. Steve Haywood has written an excellent article about the Ashby Canal in the latest (April 2009) issue of Canal Boat magazine, and he starts the article with a brief but fond memoir of Charity Dock in 1984:
More like a scrapyard than a boatyard … squalor with a history. … The dock then was run by the legendary Joe Gilbert, a man not noted for his efficiency, and the place was always full of people for whom he'd promised to complete some job which he hadn't yet got round to. We loved it."
Surely little has change in its appearance in 25 years. Charity Dock is still an extraordinary sight. I've never gone past that place without gawking at the scruffy assemblage of old and incredible hulks, many of them sprouting weeds inside, good candidates to be floating allotments. And even more so, the odd clutter and bric-a-brac piled high on the bank.
In short, it might be a good place to find a damaged boat.
Pig and Pineapple videoed it a couple of years ago as they passed (below), and they weren't impressed. In the voiceover, one of them delivered a withering parting shot: "I'm surprised they don't make 'em clean up all this mess."
Steve Haywood remembers that old Joe Gilbert's "method of dealing with a speeding boat was half a brick." Well, in the comments section of this video, Chris Pink has added a reply which is the YouTube equivalent of a half-brick!
[Update: if you are sharp-eared, you'll hear the lady observe exactly halfway thru that the stern counter of one of the boats has a lot of bricks aboard - presumably ready for the ghost of Joe Gilbert to throw]
[Update: Thanks to insurers Collidge & Partners for extra info in this post]
[Extra update: Ralph Kitts, Marine engineer, points us to www.boatwrecks.com]