October 2017 Speaker
Nearly 100 members attended the October meeting of Baddow & Galleywood U3A and we were pleased to welcome Kris Marriott who reminisced on her life as a narrowboat operator on the canals, shepherdess, and then a felt maker. Kris was born in Tenterden in Kent where her mother had a craft shop and kept sheep on Romney Marsh. When she married, she and her husband gave up their London jobs for a life on the canals. Initially they purchased a houseboat, then realised they needed to earn money as well, so they rented out the houseboat and then purchased a commercial canal boat called a “Butty”. Butties had a small living space at one end, the rest of the boat was for transportation of commercial goods along the canals. Butties didn’t have an engine so they were horse drawn and as Kris came from a farming background, they soon managed to purchase a lovely horse in Rickmansworth to pull their boat along the canals.
Their first job in 1973 was transporting barrels of lime juice from Brentford up to Hemel Hempstead. Later they transported cargoes of coal which they had bagged up and would sell to the lock keepers and other cottage residents along their route. They also collected clay from the Potteries, brought it down to Camden Lock and sold it to the craft potters there.
After a few years the canals became very busy with fishing competitions and farmers fencing off their land, so it was very difficult for the horse drawn boats to continue.
Kris then decided to become a Romany Shepherdess, looking after sheep on various farms in Kent for a while. She then came back to Essex and offered courses in secondary schools on the art of felt making, including her sheep shearing and spinning experience in their GCSE Art classes, which has been very well received.