Many boaters have a keen interest in canal boat heritage, yet few have the budget or time to own and lovingly restore a historic narrowboat.
While community narrowboats and widebeams are often purpose built so that they can be accessible to a wide range of people, a couple of our NCBA member organisations use historic narrowboats to combine their love of canal heritage with their work in the community.
Here are three easy ways to get involved with historic narrowboats, without investing in one yourself!
1) The Wooden Canal Boat Society
The Wooden Canal Boat Society are based in Tameside, Manchester and help people experiencing loneliness and social exclusion by offering volunteering and employment opportunities through the preservation of historic wooden canal boats, boat recycling trips and running a charity shop.
The Society has the second largest collection of former working wooden canal boats in UK and finds news uses for the historic boats, giving people the opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people, make friends and do something worthwhile and rewarding. Individuals affected by poverty, mental illness, unemployment and social exclusion are able to rebuild self-esteem and confidence through volunteering.
The Wooden Canal Boat Society maintains and displays five wooden working boats, runs community recycling boat trips, and a charity shop. They are also currently renovating narrowboat Hazel as a residential “wellbeing boat”.
Tarporley (pictured) is operated by Camden Canals and Narrowboat Association and is a 1937 working boat which has been run as Camden’s community narrowboat for over thirty years. Skippered cruises on Tarporley are available to all groups, and they take a maximum of 12 people. They run trips for local community organisations such as charities, clubs and schools. The boat is also available for private parties and business events and the hire fees for these private bookings help to subsidise the services provided to community groups. The boat is based on the Regent’s Canal, at Kings Cross in London.
Because Tarporley is an historic vessel she can only be handled safely with skill and experience, and is therefore not available to hire on a self-steer basis.
Coming up: You can book ahead for Tarporley’s Halloween tunnel trips through the 193 year old Islington tunnel.
3) The Historic Narrowboat Club
If you’re interested in the heritage of working boats you may like The Historic Narrow Boat Club It’s a not-for-profit club formed in 1966 for preserving the working heritage of UK canals. Their interests cover the working boats, traditional skills, the built heritage, and the practices and courtesies of the working boat people.
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