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.


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



School holidays, family holidays, etc.etc. We know you’ve lots on your mind but please don’t forget these…..(and kids are welcome, under 16s must wear -provided-  life jackets and please ring Chris Leah on 07931 952037 first to ensure we bring enough)

On the first Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of each month we collect donations for sale in our shop or for recycling.

We need more help to do this.

You will get a free boat trip from Portland Basin to Droylsden and return, learn about our Society, meet other volunteers and get a chance to steer the boat.   In Droylsden we collect from the local houses.

Sunday trips are from 9.30am to around 4pm dependant on how much is collected.

****** Bring your own lunch ******

Trips on Mondays and Tuesdays are from 6.30pm to around 9pm


AUG SUN 7th       MON 1st      TUES 2nd      

SEP  SUN 4th MON 5th TUES 6th

  OCT    SUN 2nd  MON 3rd  TUES 4th

NOV SUN 6th MON 7th TUES 1st  

DEC SUN 4th MON 5th TUES 6th

Ring Chris Leah on 07931 952037 for more info.



Train of boats on a recycling tripEvery 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


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 if you’ve any queries.



Hello all members, don’t forget it’s our quarterly General Meeting this coming Wednesday 10th February. To be held at 7 pm – prompt – in our shop at 173 Stamford Street, Ashton under Lyne – parking available outside the shop.

Paid up members can vote on issues at the meeting and have their say regarding the onward direction of the Society. We are always looking for help, especially now that we’re starting with Well-Being trips on Hazel for real; she’s already had her first paid trip and this year is the real start of her being busy again on the canals with lots of bookings in the pipeline.

So, if your membership’s lapsed or you’re new to the Society, worry not !! Subscriptions will be happily taken at the meeting.

Look forward to seeing you there.

New Craft classes

Hazel Mayow, the Wooden Canal Boat Society’s Volunteer Co-ordinator is organising some craft classes. These may be classes to learn traditional, boat-related skills or just-for-fun crafts.
The first one is an introduction to canal art (or Roses and Castles) and will be led by the very talented Maxine who has recently been working on Hazel the boat.
Her workshop is going ahead this Sunday 29th November, 10am-3.30pm, at the WCBS shop 173 Stamford Street, Ashton-under-Lyne.

Please RSVP to Hazel Mayow at to reserve a place, as we can take 12 people maximum, but feel free to pass this on to anyone else you know who may be interested.

We’re not charging for this one as such, but a donation towards materials would be greatly appreciated! Maxine also says that if you have anything suitable to decorate feel free to bring it. Painted wood, metal or enamel things like camping mugs are ideal, or have a look in the shop for inspiration! otherwise we’ll be practising on card, so could be ideal for making personalised chistmas messages, signs etc. with a bit of practise.

RSVP! First come first served, and if you then can’t come for whatever reason please let Hazel know so she can offer the place to someone else.


On the 11th of November a lively general meeting was held in the shop premises. Many of our volunteers and members attended and heard about the recent happenings and future plans of the Society.

The minutes of the meeting can be read here   2015_11_11GeneralMeetingminutes.doc

To be invited to these quarterly meetings and have some say in the running of the society simply complete the Membership form – membershipapplicationform.odt  and if you’re a tax payer then also please complete the Gift Aid form – GiftAidDeclaration_singleformforemail