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.

Bollington Historic Boat Gathering 14th – 20th Sept. An Epic Journey

Our Hazel crew member, Tony Hewitson writes about this trip………….

I have been wrangling the crew for a few months now, but this was logistically the most difficult by far and I thank everyone who helped over the 7 days.

We started early on Wednesday, preparing Forget-Me-Not and Hazel, the first job was to shaft Hazel to Portland Marina to pump out the black water tank. So on top of Hazel with the shaft in hand I started moving her over toward the aqueduct, not realising that Aaron was pulling me round with the line. The shaft got trapped under the boat and I had 2 choices, hold on and end up like a dyke jumper or let it go and fish it out of the cut. I quickly retrieved the shaft much to the amusement of the guys from Still Waters.

Chris had tried to sell space on Hazel for the trip but without success, so at the last minute 2 guys from Greystones called Grant and Chris joined us staying until Friday,

Once we had finished at the Marina we joined up with Forget-Me-Not and we started to head up the Peak Forest Canal, The crew for that day were Chris, Joan Wainwright, Aaron Booth, Phil Hanscomb, Andy Smith and myself. We moored up at Marple Aqueduct. Andy, Joan, Chris and myself stayed on the boats, whilst Aaron cycled home.

The second day was through The Marple Flight and we had a lot of help, thankfully as this is never an easy exercise. We were joined by Aaron cycling from Ashton. George Hewitt a CC who was moored near Hyde Bank Tunnel, Mick Owen with Gary and Kath Bailey, Hazel Mayow who brought Neil Morley who stayed with us until Monday. And not forgetting Tom Blackburn who worked lock side and by his own admission was completely shattered by the end of the day. His sterling work helped Joan and I get Forget-Me-Not through with only one small stem up. He did work really hard. We moored the boats just past the start of the Macclesfield Canal for the night. At this point I had to leave the boats and cycled back home as I had an appointment on Friday. Aaron also cycled back and returned on the Friday

After checking the boats at Portland Basin I cycled up the canal rejoining them at Bollington, Just had time to say hello to Chris when he headed back to Ashton and said goodbye to our guests from Greystones, Aaron set off again back home, that boy is fit! Leaving Joan, Neil and myself on the boats. We had a really lovely evening and I recruited Neil to the Hazel crew.

Next day, Chris arrived with the van and Aaron arrived, as always, by bike, we set up some tables and put out the leaflets, signs and Anne Riley’s artwork. I again donned the Victorian boaters garb, I also ran a slide show of the pictures of the Hazel restoration on my laptop. There were lot of people walking dogs and Aaron had the brilliant idea of putting some water out for the many dogs that were being walked. Chris and Joan showed people around the boat I mostly sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather and sold some most of Anne’s artwork with 2 of the items heading to Madeira. We even showed a lady who was visiting from The Falklands around the boat. Barry came with his brother to show him the boats.

The new pictures of the restoration on the side of the boat brought over a lot of people, when steering the butty you can see people stop and look at them as you go by.

Later in the evening we were joined by Maxine Bailey who stayed for the rest of the trip. We said goodbye to Aaron who again cycled back to Ashton.

We were surprised on the Sunday morning when all the other historic boats began to leave, We had believed it was a 2 day event but I was only the Saturday. We didn’t care I dressed up and we set up our stalls and again we showed people around the boat.

In the afternoon we were joined by Christine Roberts and Lesley Smith

At the end of the day Chris took Joan  home and Neil, Maxine and I enjoyed a chilled evening on the boat. Over the weekend we took around £90.00 selling almost all of Anne’s work and hopefully made some good connections.

On the Monday we headed a little way along the Macclesfield Canal to wind in a very silted winding hole, with the engine cooling intermittently working. and headed back to Marple with Chris, Neil, Maxine and myself crewing, I had to head back home in the evening having a rather scary ride home down the towpath in the dark. We also said goodbye to Neil. I caught them up the next afternoon just after Forget-Me-Not had got down the Marple flight, There was a lady from Towpath Talk taking photos for an article she had been interviewing Chris for, we were joined by Hazel and George to help through the locks.

With Chris, Maxine and myself on board we moored once again at Marple Viaduct and prepared for a wellbeing trip with Macclesfield Mind the following day, but that’s another story.

I would like to thank everyone who in anyway helped make this trip an unforgettable experience and if I have forgot anyone I do apologise.  And of course there are volunteers that work mostly at either The Heritage Boat Yard and Portland Basin such as Clare and Barry.


Showing off Hazel and promoting her and the Society

To promote the Society and show off Hazel she has been taken to a couple of fairly local festivals this summer, with fare-paying customers on board where-ever possible to defer costs and boost the coffers for trips for folk who have the need but not the cash. Here she is, with her necessary companion motor-boat Forgetmenot, at Bollington with Chris on the towpath talking to folk attending.

If you’re interested in making a trip on her – maybe, like the people yesterday, to celebrate a birthday or other occasion or just because – then do contact Anne-Louise Black at or . chris-talking-to-folk-with-boats

General Meetings

As we had a couple of silly situations in 2016 re the dates of the General Meetings firstly in May with the meeting falling just one month after the AGM and secondly in August where we didn’t have a quorum due to people being on holiday.

So it has been decided to change the dates to the following………….

12th October 2016

11th January 2017

AGM April 2017 – exact date to be notified nearer the time

12th July 2017           and so one each year.

Can you help us?

Saturday 10th September 
                   The Wooden Canal Boat Society will be at Portland Basin Museum                for a Tameside Heritage Open Day.

Can you please help the Wooden Canal Boat Society at this event ?

  • Talk to the public about the work we do and the history of our boats.
  • Tell the public how they can support our efforts ………………..

                     > by volunteering to do some work on the boats or background admin work                                     or becoming a Council of Management member
> by donating their money (membership, sponsorship, donations or using our                                  fundraising methods)
Thank you; if you’ve any queries email



The Wooden Canal Boat Society, has been shortlisted to receive funding of £2000 from Provident’s Good Neighbour Community Programme.

It is one of nine organisations to be shortlisted across Central UK, and you are invited to vote to decide on the winners until 25th September.

You can cast your votes at

until 25th September 2016.

They will use the money towards a much needed van if they receive the most votes.

Provident’s Good Neighbour Programme recognises the projects or organisations which make a real difference to their local communities. It invested more than £1 million into communities across the UK during 2015. The Wooden Canal Boat Society believe their work makes a real difference in the local community by providing opportunities for better mental health of volunteers and also those who go for trips on Hazel, their Well-Being boat. ‘’We would love to do even better work in the area with the help of this funding, which will help us purchase a much needed ‘new-to-us’ van for collection of donations for our shop, delivery of goods bought there and general fetching and carrying of all the items our old boats need’’

Andy Parkinson, Provident Home Credit Director, commented:  “Our Good Neighbour Programme is all about recognising projects and organisations, no matter how small, which bring about positive changes in their communities. W.C.B.S. is a perfect example of precisely that, and we have been thrilled to see so many nominations from local residents. “Provident agents have always worked closely within the communities in which we operate, and we see first-hand the importance of community spirit. We’re encouraging the people of Tameside to vote for their local organisations to receive funding to continue their great work.”


New opportunities with us

We are now well into the first year of Hazel being in service as a well-being boat around Tameside.

This has brought us lots more work and, therefore, some opportunities. We shall soon be needing a part-time, paid, Community Boat Co-ordinator and we also need volunteer help with all the administrative work in the Society.

For volunteers who are able to help with administrative tasks we need people who have knowledge of spreadsheet maintenance to maintain our membership and sponsorship details plus who would also be able to help with the production of our regular newsletter to these people.

The paid position is as a COMMUNITY BOAT CO-ORDINATOR. An exciting role which has become available due to the success of the Lottery funded HAZEL PROJECT. The Project Manager worked within the funding to set up Hazel as a Well-being boat within Tameside and we now need a co-ordinator to carry on that work, liaising with the management team and our volunteers, to carry on Hazel’s work. DOWNLOAD DETAILS AND THE APPLICATION FORM HERE………Community Boat Co-ordinator_person specification Community Boat Co-ordinator_job description


Did you read that research shows fare rises are far outstripping wages?

Well, don’t worry !

We’ve teamed up with Trainsplit,a leading UK rail ticket site, to bring members a great saving on train travel. Their money saving booking engine uses a system called split ticketing.

This means that you save money but also we get a rebate from them.

So, next time you book a train ticket go to and support us as well as saving money.

Please do email us if you’ve any queries about this system;

WCBS is taking part in The National Trust’s Heritage Open Days events.

If you live near to Ashton under Lyne please can you volunteer to help us

man an information stall and show our boats off to the public.

Contact : Tony Hewitson –

Thank you.

OUR EVENT – Wooden Canal Boat Society Heritage Boats

The Wooden Canal Boat Society boats, Portland Basin Boatyard, Portland Street South, Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, OL6 7SX

The Wooden Canal Boat Society have 6 heritage wooden canal boats based at Portland Basin. All of them are over 100 years old and were used in various places around the country during the canal system’s industrial heyday. Normally, due to volunteers working on the boats, we cannot allow public access.
We have rescued these and restored them, to differing degrees, for use in the community.
Our pride of the fleet is Hazel who has been completely restored and is now working as Tameside’s well-being boat for those suffering poor mental health. You will be able to see her in her modern state.
You will be able to see the back cabin on Forgetmenot as it would have been with a family living on her while she worked the canals.
You will be able to talk with our volunteers about the boats, their industrial past and their current work in the community.
Suitable for all ages as long as children are accompanied. Disabled access available on Hazel.

Opening Times

  • Saturday 10 September: 1100-1600
  • Sunday 11 September: 1100-160


Brown road signs are all around the area directing traffic to Portland Basin Museum. The canal is behind the museum and can be accessed separately. By bus, the 330 bus, Stockport to Ashton, stops opposite Asda and there is a small footpath leading down to the canal (not signposted but the only footpath) From Ashton town centre on foot, go along to Lidl, cross the road and follow the sign posts or find the footpath as above.

Organised by

Anne Louise Black

Anne Louise Black