We need a larger team of folk to carry the society through our next stages. The Big Lottery paid for a full-time Project Development Manager and a Volunteer Co-ordinator. Now their grant has finished Claire Bebbington is employed as Community Boat Co-ordinator and runs the Hazel Project ongoing with a team of volunteers and volunteer crew, under our part-time skipper, Chris Leah.

We are also looking at the future of the boatyard in Stalybridge; whether or not we buy it from TMBC a lot of planning work needs to be done.

Plus we need at least three Trustees to carry the work forward and check compliance with Charity governance.


If you think you would be interested in any kind of admin work in any of the fields above, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Training is given, we just need some dedication and enthusiasm for the projects.

Our AGM is being held in our shop, 173 Stamford Street Ashton under Lyne at 12 noon on 23rd April so please come along and meet us there. Or just email

Thank you

HOW WE STARTED: a potted history of the society

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.