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

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



Join us on board ‘Hazel’, our 100-year-old, fully restored wooden canal boat. Our wonderful relaxing cruises take in the beautiful Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals, giving you time to sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet.



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Facilities on board;

  •  Sleeps up to 10 people

  • Traditional back cabin

  • Fully fitted kitchen

  • Large bathroom/shower

  • Large lounge area

  • Log burning stove

Availability August 2016……………….


Cruise detail

Price (hire of whole boat)

Saturday 13th – Sun 14th  August 2016

Ashton-under-Lyne – Marple return on Peak Forest canal


Monday 15th – Friday 19th August

Ashton-under-Lyne-Marple-Whaley Bridge return on Peak Forest and Macclesfield canal


Saturday 27th – Sunday 28th August

Ashton-under-Lyne – Marple return on Peak Forest canal


All cruises are fully crewed. Cruises depart at 10.00 a.m

BOOK NOW! Ring 07860 944 969 or email

The Wooden Canal Boat Society is a registered charity; all profits support our wellbeing service providing relaxing cruises for people in poor health having a tough time. Registered charity number 1069820.




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.



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.



3 old ladies at Portland Basin


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


You will get a free boat trip from Portlad 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


APR     SUN 3rd      MON 4th      TUES 5th

MAY     SUN 8th      MON 9th      TUES 3rd

JUN      SUN 5TH   MON 6th      TUES 7th

JUL       SUN 3rd    MON 4th       TUES 5th

AUG     SUN 7th      MON 1st      TUES 2nd      

 Ring Chris Leah on 07931 952037 for more info.

Hazel’s Service Launch

Another proud moment for the Society and all her volunteers, past and present.

Hazel is now well and truly Tameside’s Well-Being boat after being launched on her way by the Mayor of Tameside – seen below cutting the ribbon, with Ashton Boatman (aka Chris Leah) and the Mayor’s wife and mother. After the ceremony they and others went on a short trip down to near Droylsden and back, enjoying lunch on board. Mayor cuts the ribbon

The Mayor was proud to officiate especially as he had been on the committee that gave us a grant, via New Charter’s Great Neighbourhoods scheme.

You too can help Hazel on her journey; most of the folk who will benefit from her, having poor mental health, usually need funding especially for trips like the ones we offer plus, of course, Hazel will have to be kept in tip-top condition for these trips. BECOME A SPONSOR – celebrate a special day every year for just £28 p.a. and help Hazel give those less fortunate a special day on the canals. Download and complete the form below (and let us know if you can offer Gift Aid). Send, together with your cheque, to the treasurer c/o The Wooden Canal Boat Society, 173 Stamford St, Ashton under Lyne, OL6 7PS. Thank you !  If you’ve any queries, just comment on this post or email



Booking now open for Hazel’s Well-Being trips

The Wooden Canal Boat Society is now offering fully crewed Well​-Being cruises on ‘Hazel’, a beautifully restored historic wooden canal boat.  We offer local cruises and longer breaks, providing rest and relaxation for people having a tough time because of poor mental or physical health or other difficulties.      

Inside Hazel

Our 70ft narrow boat comes fully equipped with a kitchen, a shower/bathroom and a traditional back cabin area and can sleep up to 8 people for overnight trips.    The large saloon has log burning stove and we also have central heating to keep our guests nice and warm.    Trips depart from Portland Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne, with a choice of routes on the local canal network.  Half day cruise prices start from £150.00.

Now taking group bookings – if you would like to find out more, please contact me by replying to this post

or message Anne-Louise Black on Facebook at ….. (copy and paste this into your browser) or mail her at

or phone at……….. 07860944969.