Motor Barge Syntan

The lovingly restored Motor Barge Syntan will journey down the River Hull from Beverley to Hull Marina for Open Bridges. Thanks to John Medland for this biography of the beautiful barge’s origins and present life:

M. V. Syntan

SYNTAN was built in 1949 for Hodgsons Tannery, based in Beverley, East Yorkshire and operated  as  part of the fleet of Hodgsons’  barges which were used to transport the animal hides from Hull Docks to the Tannery as well as raw supplies used in the tanning process.

The barges  also carried general cargoes such as grain, flour,  paper and nuts to South and West Yorkshire.  On the return journey they would carry coals for the Tannery and Beverley Gas Works, which operated until the arrival of North Sea gas in the United Kingdom in the 1970’s.

SYNTAN is ‘Sheffield’ size ­ 61’6″ x 15’6″ ­ and she could carry a cargo up to 110 tons, ‘Sheffield’ size enabled her to get through the locks to reach Sheffield in South Yorkshire.

The name SYNTAN is derived from the process of  synthetic tanning which was developed by Hodgsons.

The Beverley Barge Preservation Society was formed in 2002 as a registered charity with the aim of rescuing and renovating SYNTAN, which was discovered at Doncaster Power Station in South Yorkshire, after being laid up for 20 years.  SYNTAN was in desperate need of a complete overhaul, there was no wheelhouse,  all the external fittings had gone apart from the winch, and the cargo hold was full of water.

After 3 years of hard work,  SYNTAN was completely restored to her former glory and painted in the Hodgson colours. Mast lights, engine room vents and the wheelhouse were found and fitted to their original pattern.   A galley and office were created,  and the hold converted into a meeting room, and ‘living museum’. In the forecastle, is the accommodation, lovingly recreated by Norman Hardy who spent much of his life as a shipwright, repairing Hodgsons ‘  fleet of barges.

Based at her original and  ‘spiritual home’ of  Cranehill Wharf on Beverley Beck,  SYNTAN is a living museum and social venue,  making passenger trips up and down the River Hull to the River Humber as well as further afield to Goole via the River Ouse. Recently SYNTAN, was used to recreate a Dutch live-aboard barge set for the film ID2,  one of her many roles in a long and successful life.

Gallery of photographs of the Syntan by Richard Duffy-Howard. click on an image to see the full picture and scroll along:


Visit the Beverley Barge Preservation Society Website

Open Bridges is a whole tapestry of threads. It’s a celebration of Hull’s lifeblood, the River Hull, 13 movable bridges, the vessels that use the river and the heritage & culture that have grown up in both East and West Hull.


Project concept Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard