Heritage Trip Boat – “Susan-E”


The boat first came to the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust at Over basin during 2014 for it’s first launch and maiden voyage.

Susan – E had been built as a personal project by Mr. Alan Keef, the owner of Alan Keef Ltd, Light Railway Engineers and Locomotive Builders from Ross-on-Wye. Using a 16ft aluminium hull as the basis for the project, Alan stripped out the hull and rebuilt it in the style of a river steamer, complete with cabin and canopy roof.

The origin of the hull is a little uncertain. It has been suggested that it was built as the tender for a Sunderland flying boat, although there is no evidence to substantiate this. It may also have been a lifeboat from a small vessel, but is slightly unusual in having a transom stern.
Any information about a possible origin for this type of hull would be most welcome.

Inevitably, as a consequence of Alan’s passion for steam, Susan-E was fitted with a boiler and steam engine. However, rather than drive a propeller, the steam engine powered a 24volt generator which in turn charged 4 large 12volt batteries, which again in turn powered a 48volt electric outboard motor.

After the maiden voyage on the canal and following a few modifications, Susan – E appeared at several of the canal Open Days in her steam powered form, piloted by Mr.Keef and provided a very pleasant contrast to the other heritage canal boats being run.

Alan’s attentions subsequently moved on to other projects and in the early part of 2017 he removed the steam plant and generator before, in April 2017, very generously gifting Susan-E, complete with road trailer, to the Canal Trust on a permanent loan basis to be used and maintained as a trip boat.

Susan – E is now totally electric and is charged from a mains electricity supply.


Length 16ft 10ins Overall – 15ft 6ins Waterline

Beam 6ft 10ins – Draught 15ins

Displacement 2 tons (approx.)

Endurance – Approximately 10 hours at low speeds from fully charged batteries

Susan – E is fitted out with bench seating and is licenced to carry 2 crew members plus 5 passengers.

She is used at the moment as one of the boats helping to try and slow the spread of reeds over the canal and can also be used as a trip boat when require.

She has a fully roadworthy trailer and can be launched and recovered using the slipway at Over.