OTHER WATERWAYS SITES FOR HISTORIC INLAND BOATS
(As at Monday, February 03, 2020)
Useful links to other waterways related sites - which will each open in a new browser window. We accepts no responsibilty for the integrity of the link or information. Downloads are available here in Adobe PDF format.
New pages are continually being added to:
Historic Boat Bibliography - a list of recommended books, films and videos with links to online items.
Genealogy - waterways oriented sites.
Commercial Services - not an exhaustive list, but those of whom I have some knowledge or which have been submitted by others.
If you would like an item adding to any of these pages, please contact the webmaster (link on foot of menu on left)
Waterways Societies and Other Organisations
The prime waterways site for those with a general interest in English Inland waterways is undoubtedly www.canals.com This is an important resource site which claims to have links to all other waterway sites and so should be a starting point for the beginner and also for those seeking new information in new areas. A similarly useful site is waterwaysdirectory.com
Probably the smallest UK working boat is the coracle . There is a coracle society and the national coracle centre in south-west Wales. The coracle is probably the easiest and cheapest way for the DIYer to get afloat - but do heed the safety warnings on some sites.
Also on a small scale, and if you want a free Canal & River Trust (previously British Waterways) licence and no worries about boat safety schemes or insurance, then contact the British Canoeing (formerley the British Canoe Union for another cheap way to get afloat.
Mainly for Narrow Boats
For narrow boats the primary site is that of the Historic Narrow Boat Club (HNBC) (previously the HNBOC)
An alternative site is www.canalnarrowboats.co.uk which has much of interest to the 'historic boater' as well as those with a passing interest in carrying fleets and colour schemes etc.
Another site for those with a general interest in narrow boats is The Narrow Boat Trust. This site will be of particular interest to those who do not own a historic boat - or even any boat at all - but who would like to get afloat on a traditional 'pair'.
Many boat owners are also residential boaters and are recommended to join the Residential Boat Owners Association . Other people use their boats for, or have an interest in, commercial carrying and might want to join the Commercial Boat Operators Association .
Those with an interest in wooden boats should be aware of the Wooden Canal Boat Society who have done an enormous amount, in the face of official apathy and financial hardship, to preserve some of the last examples of some of our most important canal heritage - the boats themselves! A special case of a historic wooden boat is the flyboat. The Shropshire Union Flyboat Project also have their own web site.
A newer organisation - which also takes waterway heritage back to basics is the Horseboat Society. The Ashton Packet Boat Company trip boat uses what is believed to be the oldest working full-length narrowboat: Maria . Horseboats are sadly rare now, but another trip boat operation exists in the south, on the River Wey and also one in the south west on the Grand Western Canal .
Mainly for Barges and Wide Beam
The Newark Heritage Barge www.newarkheritagebarge.com is a new floating museum attempting to rectify this lack of information. It is housed in the dumb, 'Trent Sized', barge 'Leicester Trader' which can be towed to locations on the river for events.
Sadly, The Yorkshire Waterways Museum was an excellent museum at Goole - which has now closed - but is where the commercial Aire & Calder Navigation meets the River Ouse and barges (and coastal shipping!) may generally still be seen at work.
The Norfolk Wherry Trust look after the wherry 'Albion' - the last surviving commercial wherry in sailing condition. The wherries were a craft unique to the Norfolk Broads and carried goods throughout the region between local staithes.
The Humber Keel and Sloop Preservation Society look after the keel 'Comrade' and the sloop 'Amy Howson' - both of which remain in sail. The basic difference is that the keels had a large square sail whereas the sloops have a more sophisticated 'fore and aft' rig. Both types of craft once held sway on the commercial waterways of the north east and came in a variety of sizes.
The Humber Sloop 'Phyllis' website includes not just info on Phyllis, but many other craft including histories and photographs.
The Steam Boat Association is obviously of particular interest who use this form of motive power, and also to those of us who just enjoy the spectacle! Specific information about steam narrowboats may be found on Richard Thomas's site here!
Slightly more conventional motive power may be seen at www.oldengine.org which has the advantage that the site also has links to all the other various engine related sites that I have not got around to adding yet! So, even if you don't have a Bolinder, if you want to know about engines look here first.
A peripheral - but important - issue is addressed by the Towpath Action Group who could perhaps do with more support to make this a national issue.
The Inland Waterways Association is the predominant (and probably the oldest) national voluntary organisation involved with the UK inland waterways. Most other organisations are affiliated to it or work under its auspices. Of particular note is the Waterway Recovery Group
The Canal & River Trust (previously known as British Waterways) of course administer most of the British inland waterways. You can get a lot of useful information from their website - but sadly the most important information for existing boaters (like details of the technical requirements of the Boat Safety Scheme!) is not as obvious as it could be at under Boating as the site is aimed at use by the general public. You can view, or download, a good guide to the essentials of boat safety at www.boatsafetyscheme.com More general boat safety information can be found at HMY.com - which, although it is north american based, has lots of useful links and information.
The National Waterways Museum at various sites, including Ellesmere Port, Stoke Bruerne and Gloucester has an extensive collection of historic boats of all types from skiffs to ships - but primarily inland waterway craft and narrow boats. Another good museum for seeing narrow boats is the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley who have a huge site which includes all aspects of industrual heritage including a coal mine, railway and working replica Newcomen engine on almost the same site as the world's first. On the other hand you can visit the last original one on its original site at the Elsecar Heritage Centre - which is adjacent to the terminal basin of the former Elsecar Branch of the Dearne & Dove Canal.
There is also the National Register of Historic Vessels which, under the aegis of "National Historic Ships" "emerged out of a seminar held to discuss the problems facing the preservation of historic ships and vessels in the UK and the evident neglect of this important part of our heritage". National Historic Ships is also "The official voice for historic vessels in the UK".
If, after all the above, you still don't know how to work a lock, look here. Lots of 'fun for all the family' - especially when you get it wrong! :-)
The 'Inland Waterways' section of the Transport Trust's Website has some excellent archive material, including old film footage. Well worth a look for the waterways material alone.
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