Dave Moore, res­i­dent sign­writer at Nor­ton Canes Boat­yard, has quite a rep­u­ta­tion for his work

Canal Boat - - This Month -

Sign­writer Dave Moore of Nor­ton Canes Boat­yard shares his thoughts with us

1 What first at­tracted you to the wa­ter­ways?

Be­ing taken to my school’s boat, which was a con­verted Ste­warts and Lloyds joey, as a 12-year-old. Soon af­ter I met Mal­colm Braine at the Nor­ton Canes yard and he widened my wa­ter­way hori­zons.

2 Which is your favourite canal or river?

Prob­a­bly the Staffs & Worcs, a canal I’ve known al­most from the start of my boating life.

3 What do the wa­ter­ways have to of­fer the coun­try?

For the most part, a lin­ear park rich in history and tra­di­tion.

4 What do the wa­ter­ways need most?

A dif­fi­cult one, this. The in­fra­struc­ture is in much bet­ter shape than when I started boating, though not all of the changes are for the bet­ter. I’d opt for more ex­pe­ri­enced folk to main­tain them, though where they’d come from, I don’t know.

5 What do you think of the peo­ple on our wa­ter­ways?

There are many won­der­ful folk out there on the sys­tem, though I’m sad­dened to note that some mod­ern boaters have lit­tle in­ter­est or con­nec­tion with wa­ter­way tra­di­tions. These were the things that drew me as a youth, along with Rolt’s Nar­row­Boat.

6 What led you to a ca­reer as a sign­writer? 7 What’s the best thing about your job? 8 And what’s the worst thing about your job? 9 Do peo­ple come to you with their own ideas or do you get a chance to de­sign your own?

Be­ing in­tro­duced to cal­lig­ra­phy at school and watch­ing Ted Chetwynd, a boat­yard sign­writer, let­ter Cac­tus for Mal­colm in the 1960s. I stood fas­ci­nated for two days. Hav­ing a de­lighted cus­tomer at the end of it, along with the kick of think­ing “I did that”. Work­ing in con­torted, un­com­fort­able po­si­tions for long pe­ri­ods. Not all docks are sign­writer friendly. Most cus­tomers are happy to rely on my ex­pe­ri­ence with colours and lay­out, most of which is in the tra­di­tional field. I’m less in­ter­ested in mod­ern liv­er­ies.

10 Have you a favourite paint­ing job you’ve done?

Let­ter­ing and dec­o­rat­ing my own boat Res­o­lute, de­spite not be­ing paid.

11 Have you ever fallen in?

Not for many years. The last time was at Sherborne Street, in Birm­ing­ham, in the 1990s, car­ry­ing two paint boxes, one in each hand. The yard staff rushed for their cam­eras!

12 Tell us about your boating ex­pe­ri­ence...

I started in the 1960s, largely with en­thu­si­asts and a hand­ful of work­ing boat­men whom we strove to em­u­late. Sadly, their skills and tech­niques are not al­ways un­der­stood or ap­pre­ci­ated to­day.

13 What are you read­ing at present?

I re­visit clas­sic canal books con­stantly, mostly those con­cerned with ear­lier times. Cur­rently I’m en­joy­ing Bill Bryson’s Aus­tralia Trav­el­ogue Dow­nUn­der – I used to live there.

14 Who would be your ideal cruis­ing com­pan­ion? 15 What did you want to be aged 12? 16 What is your proud­est achieve­ment? 17 What is your favourite sea­son on the wa­ter­ways? 18 What do you do with your spare time? 19 Where would you go on your dream cruise? 20 What su­per­power would you like to have?

Other than my wife Gail, I’d nom­i­nate Ho­race Foster, a work­ing boater sadly no longer with us. We had a long past. No idea. I was keen on science as a school­boy in those days. Be­ing recog­nised for what I do, still busy, de­spite never hav­ing spent a penny on advertising or pro­mo­tion. I pre­fer to boat out of sea­son, I don’t en­joy queu­ing for locks. Trav­el­ling, golf, stained glass... I love to work with my hands and envy the skills of the wood and me­tal work­ers I work with in boat­yards. To work a pair of boats over a wa­ter­way in the style com­mon be­fore I came to the cut. I was born a lit­tle too late! This is silly. The abil­ity, per­haps, to be able to let­ter both sides of a boat si­mul­ta­ne­ously – as I write on one side, it ap­pears on the other too.

‘I stood fas­ci­nated fort­wo­days’ DAVE MOORE Sign­writer

Dave Moore hard at work

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