Horseboating in the Snow!

In February, Maria was horse-drawn along the Ashton Canal to Portland Basin for the AGM of The Horseboating Society.

Members of The Horseboating Society

Some of the members of The Horseboating Society gathered for the AGM, with Maria at Portland Basin.

Members of The Horseboating Society

Members of The Horseboating Society inspect the boat horses at Portland Basin.

The return journey was in the snow, breaking thin ice on the canal!

Horseboating in the snow

Maria horsedrawn on the Ashton Canal in the snow Photo: Martin Eagle

Horseboating in the snow

Maria horsedrawn on the Ashton Canal in the snow Photo: Martin Eagle

Horseboating in the snow

Maria horsedrawn on the Ashton Canal in the snow Photo: Martin Eagle

Horseboating in the snow

Maria horsedrawn on the Ashton Canal in the snow Note the thin ice on the water.

Marple Locks Celebration

Maria travelled from Guide Bridge to the top of Marple Locks for the Marple Locks Celebration.

On Saturday 3rd July Maria went down the top four locks, carrying passengers portraying Samuel Oldknow and his apprentices, re-enacting the first journey down the locks 200 years ago. Later in the afternoon Maria continued down to the bottom of Marple Locks before returning to Guide Bridge.

Maria was launched from Jinks’ Boatyard at the top of Marple Locks in July 1854, so this event was also celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first journey of Maria down the locks! Maria has been de-converted from being a passenger trip boat and restored to her original 1854 condition as an open working boat.

Peak Forest Canal 2003

The horse-drawn boat Maria was taken along the Peak Forest Canal to Marple Aqueduct to be present for the unveiling of a memorial to Dr Cyril Boucher.

Maria crossing Marple Aqueduct, towed by Queenie driven by Steve Corbett.

Maria crossing Marple Aqueduct

It was appropriate for the horseboat Maria to attend the ceremony as she was built at Marple in 1854 at Jinks’ yard, above the top lock. She celebrated her 150th birthday in 2004.

When the Boucher family came to Marple in the 1950s the locks were still open and a few boats still making passages. In his speech at the ceremony, John Boucher. the eldest son of Dr Cyril Boucher, referred to Maria as one of the graceful maintenance boats of the area.

Thanks were given by IWA National Chairman, John Fletcher, to the Ashton Packet Boat Company for providing Maria and to Sue Day for supplying the motive power of boathorse Queenie.

The eight mile journey between Guide Bridge on the Ashton Canal and Marple is lock-free but includes two turnover bridges, two tunnels and the Marple Aqueduct. Queenie pulled Maria through Woodley Tunnel and the crew legged her through Hyde Bank Tunnel. Ten foot high trees on the towpath edge caused great difficulties in the Woodley area. Sadly, the boathorse path over Hyde Bank Tunnel has been made into a difficult route for horses as new wooden barriers have been erected. Despite these problems, the horseboating was much enjoyed by the crew in glorious weather.

Pictures of the unveiling can be seen on the Pennine Waterways website.