Horseboating Society

Horseboating Society

The Horseboating Society is a national society and registered charity in England, with the primary aim being the preservation and promotion of Horseboating on the canals of Britain. The Society was founded on January 19, 2001 at the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, and it is the only organisation in the UK solely dedicated to horseboating.


*"See also article: Horse-drawn boats"

Horseboating is a way of recapturing the working lives of the waterway community, especially the thousands of families and the tradesmen who kept the traffic moving. In the early days of the Canal Age, from about 1740, all boats and barges were towed by horse, mule, hinny, pony or sometimes a pair of donkeys. Many of the surviving buildings and structures had been designed with horse power in mind. A horse towing a boat with a rope from the bank could pull fifty times as much cargo in a boat as it could pull in a cart or wagon on roads.Boat horses were the prime movers of the Industrial Revolution, and they remained at work until the middle of the 20th century.

The Society's achievements and notable journeys

In 2007, the Society made one of its epic journeys along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the World Canals Conference in Liverpool, with its flagship narrowboat "Maria" which is Britain's oldest surviving wooden narrowboat, built in 1854 by Jinks Boatyard in Marple, and still horsepowered to this day, i.e. permanently without an engine.

This journey was also part of British Waterways' "Coal and Cotton" event, celebrating the Leeds and Liverpool Canal's history of transporting coal from Leeds and Wigan to Liverpool, and taking cotton from Liverpool docks to Leeds. "Maria" duly carried sacks of coal, and samples of cotton supplied by the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

4th August 2006 saw another unique journey when Robin Evans, Chief Executive of British Waterways, joined horseboat Maria at Portland Basin, Ashton-under-Lyne, where the Lower Peak Forest Canal meets the Ashton Canal. He took part in a taster session of "driving" boathorse Queenie along a section of the canal, and he proceeded to take Horseboat Maria through Hyde Bank Tunnel by "legging" the boat from the cabin roof.

This journey was a notable one for another reason: Horseboat Maria used to carry limestone between 1854 and ca. 1904 from Bugsworth Basin to Ashton-under-Lyne, and the Society chose to commemorate this by re-enacting the journey, more than 100 years later.

In May 2008, NB Maria was horse-drawn again, this time on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. She had been "legged" through the Standedge Tunnel in 2006, the first boat to have been legged through in 60 years at that time. This time, a UK Government minister and a local Member of Parliament took turns at legging Maria through the highest, longest, and deepest canal tunnel in the UK.

In the annual Waterways Renaissance Awards 2008, jointly organised by BURA (the British Urban Regeneration Association) and by The Waterways Trust ( the charity arm of British Waterways), the Horseboating Society achieved the "Commended" award in the "Historic Environment" section.

The Society works closely with British Waterways, the Boat Museum Society, the British Horse Society, the Inland Waterways Association, the Towpath Action Group, the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, and the Shropshire Union Flyboat Restoration Society.

There are horseboat operators at Foxton, Godalming, Tiverton, Ashton-under-Lyne, Newbury and Llangollen

Horseboating Gallery

External links

* [ National Historic Ships' Register of Historic Vessels, Narrowboat "Maria", Certificate Number 358]

* [ Heritage Lottery Fund website entry on £ 42,500 lottery grant to Horseboating Society]

* [ BBC Interview with Chair of Horseboating Society]

* [ British Waterways' leisure website "", article on horseboating and Horseboating Society]

* [ UK Parliament Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, submission by British Waterways, mention of Horseboating Society]

* [ UK Parliament, Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Memorandum submitted by The Horseboating Society (BW 12)]

* [ UK Parliament, Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Ev 287, para 29, Evidence from Horseboating Society]

* [ Liverpool Daily Post article, June 7th, 2007 on World Canals Conference and Horseboating Society]

* [ Liverpool Echo article June 7th, 2007 on World Canals Conference and Horseboating Society]

* [ British Waterways Report:Guidance for Motorcycles on Towpaths refers to Horseboating Society's Towpath Access Guide]

* [ Questions from Horseboating Society at British Waterways User Group Meeting Sowerby Bridge]

* [ British Urban Regeneration Association]

* [HistoricStructuresReviewBriefingNote1 [1] .pdf PDF: Briefing notes on Inland Waterways Association's Historic Structures Review in conjunction with Horseboating Society's "Preserving our waterways heritage" campaign]

* [ Inland Waterways Association Press Release about "Maria" 's journey to the World Canals Conference]

* [ Online version of Towpath Talk magazine, July 2005, article on Horseboating Society]

* [ Canal website with images of horseboating and legging]

* [ Report on "limestone" journey]

* [ Guidance Document by the Horseboating Society]

ee also

*List of waterway societies in the United Kingdom
*Horse-drawn boats, Canal, Waterway restoration, towpath

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Wooden Canal Boat Society — The Wooden Canal Boat Society (WCBS) is a waterway society and a registered charity in England, UK, based at Ashton under Lyne, Greater Manchester. The Society started as the Wooden Canal Craft Trust in 1987, and by 1995 the Trust owned six… …   Wikipedia

  • Road — This article is about a route, thoroughfare or way that supports travel by a means of conveyance. For a place outside a harbor where a ship can lie at anchor, see Roadstead. For public roads, see Highway. For other routes, see thoroughfare. For… …   Wikipedia

  • List of waterway societies in the United Kingdom — This List of waterway societies in the United Kingdom is a list of links to waterway societies, charities, trusts, associations, clubs and other non governmental waterway organisations, concerned with the restoration, regeneration and use of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Horse-drawn boat — Not to be confused with the modern towboat. A horse drawn boat or tow boat is a historic boat operating on a canal, pulled by a horse walking on a special road along the canal, the towpath.It has been in use, both for public transport and freight …   Wikipedia

  • Working animal — A bullock team hauling wool in New South Wales A working animal is an animal, usually domesticated, that is kept by humans and trained to perform tasks. They may be close members of the family, such as guide or service dogs, or they may be… …   Wikipedia

  • Towpath Action Group — The Towpath Action Group (TAG) is a waterway society in the United KingdomThe group started in Manchester in 1987, and a year later it published its first report Trouble on the Towpath to coincide with the Inland Waterways Association s 1988… …   Wikipedia

  • Inland Waterways Association — The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) was formed in 1946 as a registered charity in the United Kingdom to campaign for the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and sensitive development of British Canals and river navigations. Notable… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”