Narrowboat Cabin Cracket Stool

Cabin "Cracket" Stool in Red by Carishei

Hand made and then hand painted in the traditional “Canal Art” style. A rustic, attractive and practical wooden cabin cracket stool adds a splash of colour to any home or narrowboat.

Getting into the swing with a cracket…

“a coal miners low level seat, or at times even a headrest”
Green cabin "Cracket Stool" in the traditional style by Carishei
Green cabin stool in the traditional “Cracket”  style by Carishei ~ Sold

An ideal gift for any canal boat owner or enthusiast. These would have been found on many a working narrowboat, particularly in the North of England. This is where the traditional style of stool is thought to have originated. As a coal miners low level seat, or at times even headrest it was for hewing coal from a narrow seam.

The miner would need to sit down very low on his “cracket.” In very confined spaces he’d rest his head upon it while swinging his pick. Imagine if you will, trying to stand or crouch while swinging a pick below knee level. Now you can understand the value of getting down lower and gaining more of a swing.

Having a crack…

“purely practical and never pretending to be otherwise”
Red cabin "Cracket Stool" in the traditional style by Carishei
Red cabin stool in the traditional “Crackett” style by Carishei ~ Sold

Generally knocked together from off-cuts of planks and any old nails laying around the pit. No real care was taken in the design or construction, all that was required was a borrowed saw and hammer. Purely practical and never pretending to be otherwise.

The name is presumed to stem from the term “crack.” Where Southerners would sit down for a chat “Geordies” would “have a crack.” I’ve also seen them called “Clacket Stools” presumably for the same reason or possibly a miss-quote that stuck?

A true cracket has a finger hole on the top surface to help the miner carry it with one hand. His pick in the other hand he’s off to the next point of the workings. This feature has been deliberately left out on our versions so far, although I think will be introduced into crackets to come.

Homely Cracket Stool…

Once finished for the day the miner would return to his cottage. Then sit on his cracket to remove his boots before getting into his bath. Obviously so avoiding coal dust of the other furniture upsetting his wife.

She would find the cracket very useful too when making up the fireplace, it was just the right height. In fact at least one cracket and usually more could be found in most households in the North East of England especially up to the 1950’s.

Practically charming…

“standing is not a recommended use for a cracket stool”

A cracket stool really makes a great piece of incidental furniture for the home. Also an ideal seat for a small child and always a talking point. Practical too. They serve a purpose as stool or step and to this end ours have a coat of tough varnish. Standing is not a recommended use though on modern “health and safety” grounds!

With an number of flat surfaces they lend themselves perfect for canal art or canalware.

They do sell very quickly when we do have some in stock. In most cases I think they have become coffee tables on narrowboats. They are quite small and do vary in dimensions but the specific sizes are quoted when they’re listed for sale.

Any questions or comments? Please use the box below and I’ll try to answer as soon as possible…

Etsy Reviews:

Hand-Painted Traditional Canal Art ~ Handmade Wooden Cabin StoolKaren on 10 Dec, 2014 – Really beautiful and traditional stool for our boat. So pleased


4 thoughts on “Narrowboat Cabin Cracket Stool”

  1. Hi Iggy… Thanks very much for your post here and I agree that pretty much for the whole East of England, in general there are very few miles of canal on the network. I see that despite my knowledge I inadvertently stated these stools were found in traditional cabins in the “North East.” My intent was to draw attention to the origins of the item.

    I think if I re-word this I can it make more historically accurate removing “East.” While you will notice this, later readers finding this post will of course only see the revised version.

    The origins of the ‘Cracket’ is a you know, firmly in the historical sense from the coal mines of the North East. Later used in some traditional narrow boat cabins too. I refer to them as a “cabin stool” as for potential buyers this has proved a perfect item inside their modern boat cabin.

    Kindest regards

  2. Sorry to be pedantic but while the cracket is from the north east, we don’t have any canals whatsoever. The north east developed the railways while everyone else was building canals. Subsequently, the canals were short lived as far as their original trading purpose was concerned. The railways completely usurped that goal. Sadly that means we have no canals and no narrow boats. I think we have to go as far south to Leeds to find one. Great product though, very beautiful and thanks for keeping the cracket alive.

  3. Hi Keith, Must be a lovely memento of your Father and I expect it still smells of coal…

  4. The cracket design is exactly the same as the one I inherited from my dad who used to be a coal-miner. I use it on a regular basis when I do DIY and I’m glad I kept it all these years.

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