Welcome to The Narrow Boat Heritage Foundation

The Narrow Boat Heritage Foundation was set up to find, restore and preserve as many of Britain’s most historic and captivating river craft as possible – and at the same time develop and sustain the skills needed to maintain them in the future.

Our first restoration project, Narrowboat Dane, was successfully craned back into the water on 6th August 2016 at Alvecote Marina, following four years’ work. We believe this is the most complete and authentic rebuild of a wooden narrowboat for more than thirty years.

Click the thumbnail below to watch a video of the launch:

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September 2020 Update

Over the past year, the NBHF has worked hard to find a sustainable future for our two narrowboats, Dane and Clee. Even without the additional nuisance of Covid 19, this has been a challenging process.

Dane at Middleport

Narrowboat Dane

It’s now over four years since the spectacular re-launch of Dane at Alvecote after over four years of hard slog restoration. Very much a first at this level, this represented a major milestone for the preservation of wooden narrowboats.

To go to the next step the NBHF needed a partnership to ensure Dane’s future, ideally presenting her in a public arena where her story could be told in an established heritage context.

Through a chance contact we were introduced in 2017 to Re-Form Heritage (then part of the Prince’s Trust) who run The Middleport Pottery, at their established heritage site at Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. They were looking for a boat to complement their collection and tie in the historical connection of the potteries, and Dane fulfilled this aspiration in every way. She had been built in the Charles Stannier yard near Middleport for the Mersey Weaver & Ship Canal Carrying Company in 1947, and carried raw China clay from Ellesmere Port & Weston Point to the potteries – including Middleport. There could not have been a better connection.

Since arriving at Middleport Dane has been a vital part of an important Stoke heritage asset that has seen a steady rise in visitor numbers (except for Covid) as an award-winning visitor attraction.

In association with Re-Form Heritage, we have agreed to implement a training and educational programme for the committed volunteers who present, demonstrate and operate Dane for the benefit of the general public. Now Dane has proved her worth, we intend to transfer ownership to Re-Form Heritage as part of this continuing programme.

Work on Dane

Narrowboat Clee

Clee was the first boat the trust acquired and was in a very poor state, albeit very original. We made an early decision to restore Dane before Clee, as she was considered a less expensive and quicker project to complete. However, Dane has consumed all our time, money, and energy – and given that Clee’s restoration would effectively mean creating a replica, the Trust is unable to commit to any more work on her.

Despite considerable efforts, we have been unable to find a new home for Clee. She is now very unstable and fragile, and unlikely to stand the move by water even if we could find a willing restoration partner. Consequently we have taken the decision to dismantle her.

Clee is on the National Register of Historic Vessels. When such a vessel reaches the end of its life and when time and resources are limited, it is recommended that basic measurements of the vessel are taken along with a detailed photogrammetric survey of her hull. We intend to do this and will lodge these records with her register entry, which will then be transferred to the National Archive of Historic Vessels by National Historic Ships.

We now intend to close the Narrow Boat Heritage Foundation after Dane has transferred ownership and Clee has been dismantled. The NBHF has achieved its goal of restoring a wooden narrowboat to an extremely high standard through the help of many, particularly our restoration team of Ade Polglase, Andy Cox and Johnno Hewitt.

We will provide a final update to confirm when this has happened and then conclude the charity.

Middleport