Keels and Sloops

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries the vessel of choice for Yorkshire’s watermen was the Humber keel or sloop. Built originally in wood but later iron and steel, these cargo vessels carried loads of up to 150 tons, between industrial Yorkshire and the ports of Goole and Hull. Powered by sail or towed by tug, horse or man, they not only carried cargoes but also the waterman’s family who would live onboard for the duration of each trip. 

The photographs found in this section show the vessels used by the watermen who plied their trade on the waterways of Yorkshire during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Where possible we have identified the vessels and where and when the photographs were taken. If you can add to our description with details of any vessel or its crew please get in touch using the form below. 

Hover your cursor over the photograph and you will see a short title. Click on the photograph and you should see a larger version and more information.