Helping people experiencing loneliness and social exclusion by providing Volunteering and employment opportunities through the preservation of historic wooden canal boats, which engage the community in a variety of activities such as, boat recycling trips and running a charity shop; boat restoration, repairs and maintenance; The boats offer respite for disadvantaged people and those suffering poor mental health. Preserving the traditional boat building skills and the history surrounding the operation of these boats.
Every month we take our boats from their base at Portland Basin about one hour down the canal to Droylsden. There we collect donations from nearby houses which are later recycled or sold in our charity shop. On Sundays the trip is held during the day so there’s time to have a chat and some lunch after the collection before the trip back to base. On Monday and Tuesdays the trips are in the evening so the return is made straight away.
These trips are a wonderful introduction into canal life, working a boat, the industrial heritage of the canal system and to the Wooden Canal Boat Society itself. We encourage all new volunteers to come along and meet us in this way.
These are the details of trips for the rest of 2016 (however do ring Chris Leah on 07931 952037 first especially if there are a few of you coming)
SUNDAYS leaving Portland Basin at 9.30 am, probably returning around 4pm depending on how many donations are collected. Bring your own lunch.
MONDAYS & TUESDAYS leaving Portland Basin at 6pm, probably returning around 9.30pm
SUNDAY MONDAY TUESDAY
JULY 3rd 4th 5th
AUGUST 7th 8th 9th
SEPTEMBER 4th 5th 6th
OCTOBER 2nd 3rd 4th
NOVEMBER 6th 7th 8th
DECEMBER 4th 5th 6th
In 1974 Chris Leah was a student at Chester College, living on boats to save money. He bought a full length wooden narrow boat called “Lilith” for one hundred pounds. The boat needed repairs and Chris set about doing them. Before long Chris had acquired a second boat “Sarah”, later renamed “Forget me Not”. In May 1987 the Wooden Canal Craft Trust was formed. Initially this was a small group of friends who wanted to build a future for “Lilith” and “Sarah”.
The 1989 British Waterways Bill threatened to introduce new regulations that would make the work of the Wooden Canal Craft Trust virtually impossible and force most owners of historic wooden craft to destroy them.
The Trust petitioned against it and their case was put at the Lords Committee stage and several witnesses called.
This, and negotiations over the next two years, resulted in substantial changes in the legislation together with the beginnings of a recognition of the importance of the floating heritage by British Waterways.By the Spring of 1995 The Wooden Canal Craft Trust owned six boats, Elton, Forget Me Not, Hazel, Lilith, Southam and Queen. Over the next couple of years the Trust changed and eventually was wound up with its assets going to the new charity we have today and our first boat had moved to the Portland Basin Museum. In 1999 Tameside Council provided a much-needed boatyard site at Knowl St in Stalybridge and there the first major renovation was started – on Hazel – resulting in the modern well-being boat that we now have.
All our boats are now based on the canal behind Portland Basin Museum in Ashton under Lyne. Come along any time and say hello to any volunteers working on them.
HAZEL is one of the few surviving wooden boats from the Northern parts of the canal system. She was built at Runcorn in 1914 and is the last complete example of a Runcorn “Wooden Header”. These boats were deep, 6 plank boats, intended for use on the Bridgewater canal and connecting waterways. Being narrow beam they were able to work up to Ashton or down to the Midlands. Drawn by a single horse, woodenheaders could carry a good 30 ton load if the water was deep enough. Originally known as “Mull” she worked for the Salt Union, carrying coal, salt and chemicals to and from the Northwich area. It is possible that she may have brought some loads up the Ashton canal. In 1929 she was sold to Agnes Beech who renamed her “Hazel” and used her to carry coal from Leigh to Northwich and Runcorn. From 1948 she became a crude passenger trip boat. In 1951 she was fitted with an engine and converted into a luxury cruising houseboat and for many yearsshe was home to a series of families and travelled extensively around the canal network until she was donated to the WCBS in 1988,
LILITH was built in 1901 and spent her first 70 years carrying goods in and out of the Coombeswood Tubeworks on the Dudley No 2 Canal near Halesowen. She is a joey boat, built for short distance carrying work on the complex Birmingham Canal Navigations. Originally she had no name, being known simply as number 9, and no cabins. The hull is of a very simple shape and has been almost completely renewed since 1974. Similar craft were once used for short distance traffic on the Ashton Canal, carrying coal from the pits to canalside mills where it was used to fuel the mill engines. Unfortunately no examples of these local boats survive. In 2001 she celebrated her centenary by carrying the first load for 80 years over the summit of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
Dating from 1917 QUEEN is probably the oldest surviving wooden motor narrow boat. She is typical of boats of her period and is a remarkable survivor, having been discarded 3 times since 1947. Originally called “Walsall Queen” she worked for Hildick & Hildick, a Walsall based company of which little is known. From 1926 she worked for Harvey Taylor of Aylesbury. The post war decline in traffic resulted in her being abandoned and sunk in 1947, but she was rescued for pleasure boat use two years later. In 1994 volunteers recovered her from deep water in Buckinghamshire where she had been abandoned. With help from the Waterways Trust in 2002 she had essential conservation work carried out to ensure that the old boat survives long enough to be fully restored.
FORGET-ME-NOT was originally built as a horse drawn boat in 1927 and belonged to Number One ( owner boatman) Henry Grantham. He supplied coal to industrial premises and was always something of an innovator. In 1929 he had “Forget me Not” motorised, then two years later he had the stern end rebuilt with a counter. In 1941 Mr Grantham retired and the boat was sold to the Samuel Barlow Coal Company who used her for similar work and gave her the name “Sarah”. She was sold and converted to a houseboat in 1959, becoming derelict by the mid 1970s. In 1987 she was hauled out of the water for restoration work to begin. Relaunched in 1994 she has now reverted to her 1930s appearance. An original Bolinder engine has been renovated and fitted.
SOUTHAM and ELTON, built in 1936 and 1937 respectively, were 2 of the fleet of 62 wooden butties ordered from Walker Bros of Rickmansworth as part of the fleet expansion programme of the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company.Intended to work with new steel motor boats, these craft were all named after towns. They mainly worked on the Grand Union main line between London and Birmingham but could travel to any part of the narrow canal network and carried a wide variety of commodities.They were both sold by British Waterways in the early 1960s . “Southam” was motorised and fitted with a full length cabin. “Elton” continued with limited carrying work for her new owner. Eventually both boats became sunk and were rescued by volunteers.
Now that Hazel is in action as Tameside’s Well-Being boat we have to think about the next steps. Every visit to Portland Basin smacks us in the eye of course as there are 5 more historic wooden canal boats sitting there all needing more attention ! Currently the trustees are having meetings regarding our vision for these – some are already in a decent enough state to be used for community projects like our monthly recycling trips for instance. These bring in lots of donations for us of course but they also provide respite trips for folk who would not normally get out into the peace and quiet of the canal system. If you are on Facebook have a look at Pauline Town’s posts about ‘Team Station’. She runs the Station pub in Ashton and many of her regulars are folk who regard the place as part of their family and know they can always find any needed help there.For the past few months Pauline and Team Station have more or less taken over the Tuesday evening recycling trips; great for us and wonderful for them – being useful and in surroundings totally different to the town where they live their daily lives.
Another place where action is very necessary is at our Heritage Boatyard on Knowl Street, Stalybridge. This was a hive of activity as the hub where Hazel spent her restorative years. Now beaurocracy is stepping in and we really have to sort it out to comply with planning regulations before taking our next project boat there.
Plus, at the beginning, one of our volunteers created a garden for us between the outside wall and the pavement. Unfortunately that got a tad neglected during work on Hazel so that and an area just inside the gate is currently being worked on. Again – more beaurocracy – an out of work volunteer is happy to do the work but she is being stopped as evidently doing that doesn’t give her enough time to job search to the current regulations. Despite it giving her pleasure and fulfillment while unemployed.
HAZEL IS A WELL-BEING BOAT IN TAMESIDE
PROVIDING PEACEFUL, RESTFUL CANAL TRIPS FOR PEOPLE WITH POOR MENTAL HEALTH.
SHE HAS BEEN RENOVATED MOSTLY BY VOLUNTEERS: HER CREW ARE ALSO VOLUNTEERS. ONLY ONE CHIEF SKIPPER IS PAID.
BUT SHE NEEDS TO BE KEPT IN TIP-TOP CONDITION.
* * * Y O U C A N H E L P * * *
B E C O M E A S P O N S O R
PAY £28 FOR ONE DAY’S SPONSORSHIP EVERY YEAR -
CELEBRATE A SPECIAL DAY FOR YOURSELF OR FRIEND AND KNOW THAT IT’S GOING TOWARDS HELPING OTHERS HAVE SPECIAL DAYS ON HAZEL.
The Society has linked up with http://wcbs.easysearch.org.uk/ to raise funds.
By using easysearch instead of Google or any other search engine, you can make a real difference. easysearch is completely FREE and by making just 10 searches a day, you could raise around £20 a year for us.
Just change your search engine to easysearch. Or use the Search button at the top right hand corner of this website and link automatically.
It doesn’t cost you a penny but we benefit !!
The Wooden Canal Boat Society has changed its bank.
From now on please make all standing orders and direct debits payable to our new account -
Co-op Community Direct Plus (Business Account)
Sort Code 08 92 99 Account No. 65789829
We have made this change to avoid bank charges.
The Membership Application forms, Hazel Sponsorship forms and Standing order forms have been amended as per those attached to this post below.
Our next General Meeting is to be held at the shop – 173 Stamford Street, Ashton – on Wednesday 11th May at 5.30pm.
All full members are invited to come along to vote on any matters arising.
All volunteers and people who are interested in finding out more about us are also very welcome. We always need more people to help to volunteer and give input to the Society.
Do email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve any queries.
Please don’t forget our Annual General Meeting this coming Sunday, April 24th in the shop at 173 Stamford Street, Ashton under Lyne OL6 7PS.
We need more members to support our work going forward with Hazel now fully operative as Tameside’s only wooden Well-Being boat. Especially a treasurer to work with our new online banking and QuickBooks – training given.
Also general help and folk who can come to monthly Council of Management meetings with a possibility of becoming a Trustee after a period of getting to know each other.
We’ve still got 5 old boats needing care and attention so even if you can only spare small amounts of time on these, do contact us.
Please leave a comment on this post with any questions. THANK YOU – see you on Sunday.
It’s time once again for the WCBS AGM.
On April 24th the members, Trustees and Council of Management will meet at 2pm in the shop, 173 Stamford Street, Ashton under Lyne. The Trustees then resign and, if they wish, can stand for re-election together with others who are interested.
IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF WCBS YOU CAN ATTEND THIS MEETING. ALSO, EVEN IF YOU CAN’T ATTEND, YOU CAN NOMINATE NEW TRUSTEES. IF YOU ARE A MEMBER AND ARE INTERESTED IN HELPING THE SOCIETY MORE BY BECOMING A COUNCIL OF MANAGEMENT MEMBER OR BEING NOMINATED FOR A TRUSTEE PLEASE LET US KNOW AT email@example.com
If you’re not yet a member, please either complete the attached form GiftAidDeclaration_singleformforemail or come to the meeting and join on the day. Annual membership is just £12 pa. and you’ll also receive the quarterly Newsletter.
If you pay membership but haven’t received a letter inviting you to the AGM by one week today (ie Thursday April 7th) please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Maybe when you joined you ticked ‘Associate Member’ instead of Full Member in which case you’d just receive the Newsletter and not AGM and General meeting invites.
Many thanks to all our loyal supporters.