Canal Tugs: The Next Generation

Engineering Class ‘Telford Rolt’, a new 6.17 meter, 6.25 tonne tug, was launched into the River Soar at Loughborough this month with a naming ceremony performed by Charlotte Wood, Regional Construction Manager South at Canal & River Trust, a major customer of Land & Water Services Ltd.

Designed by Ian Darley, a naval architect and consultant who has worked on numerous projects for Land & Water, the tug was built by Meercat Work Boats of Porchester, Portsmouth, part of Burgess Marine, and powered by an Isuzu diesel engine and hydraulic system provided by Hardy Engineering.

The ‘Cathedral Style’ welded steel hull is of heavy displacement type with flat bottom, rounded bow, vertical sides and angled chine plate; it incorporates a centreline tunnel to improve water flow to the propeller when operating in shallow water. Twin pushing logs are arranged forward with an innovative hydraulic operated barge latch/gangway between.


A recessed wheelhouse is located amidships with large windows all round and an access door and sliding hatch aft. The main engine is located forward of the wheelhouse with a hinged cover for easy access and maintenance.

The ‘Telford Rolt’ is highly manoeuvrable in the tight confines of canals and rivers and its compact design will enable road haulage between Land & Water’s national waterway locations.


The Land & Water Group operate the largest fleet of specialist long reach excavators, dredging equipment and floating plant in the UK.

Land & Water keeps Britain’s waterways navigable by dredging many rivers, lakes, canals, ponds and marinas. Over the last 20 years the company has developed many innovative disposal solutions to protect and enhance the environment. Currently they dredge around 400,000 tons of silt annually from UK waterways.


Recent contracts include dredging of the Grand Union Leicester Line Canal under its National Dredging Contract. The scope of works involved the removal of 12,380m3 of material. Dredged material was taken to agricultural fields to improve the soil conditions.

Such work invariably includes the movement of dredgers into position and supporting them with ‘pans’ (hoppers), pushing away full ones and fetching empty replacements.

Their ongoing investment in modern, innovative equipment saw this month the launch of the first of their next generation of engineering class tugs: Engineering Class ‘Telford Rolt’, named after the great canal engineer Thomas Telford 1757 – 1834 and Sonia Rolt OBE a pioneer of the canal’s resurgence as a national leisure resource.