Bonny and Maria on TV soon

Bonny the Boathorse, now aged 25, is celebrating her 25th year with Maria, the boat she took to London in 2000 from Manchester.

As part of the television programme ‘Britain Afloat’, Bonny and Maria were filmed crossing the Grade II listed Marple Aqueduct. Maria was on her home waters here, having been built at Marple.

The series will be about different types of boat and the programme about Narrow Boats will be shown on BBC1’s East Midlands region on Friday 29th September at 7.30 pm, available nationwide on BBC iPlayer the next day. (Programmes about other types of boat will be broadcast in other regions on 29th Sept.) The programme will then be broadcast nationwide as part of a series on BBC2 on Saturday 14th October at 8.00 pm.

Maria is owned by the Ashton Packet Boat Company and operated with horsepower by The Horseboating Society.

Crossing Marple Aqueduct. Photo: Warwick Burton

Crossing Marple Aqueduct in 2011. Photo: Warwick Burton

Crew needed for filming in June!

Horseboat Maria is in demand once again for television filming. This will be on Saturday June 17th, 2017, on the Lower Peak Forest Canal at the bottom of Marple Locks, on and around the aqueduct. There will not be filming on the locks.

We will be working for the team of “Inside Out” who are making a programme about narrowboats for BBC2.

Crew are needed and we have been asked to be in Victorian period clothing – that is as we would normally turn out for horseboating with Maria. Contact Sue Day on 07711-121-056 with a text as first choice.

Maria will be towed by motorboat from her home mooring at Guide Bridge by the Ashton Packet Boat Co, owners of Maria, to meet the horsebox and boathorse at the bottom of the Marple locks.

The film crew are expected to arrive from 1.00 pm onwards, and the presenter wants to have some involvement with preparing the horse and boat. This seems an opportunity for a social get together for HBS members, as well as being involved with the horseboating and filming.

Please let Sue Day know if you can crew on the day. Also try to let her know if you might come along to just socialise. Bring a packed lunch and drink to eat lunch at 12 noon before filming. Contact Sue Day on 07711-121-056 with a text as first choice.

(Victorian style period clothing required by the film crew. Dark waterproofs or dark donkey jacket, not modern fleeces and cagoules, when on or near the boat.)

Horseboating with Maria

Horseboating with Maria

Maria on the Cheshire Ring

Horseboat Maria is making a journey around the Cheshire Ring, starting in May 2014, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of re-opening of Ashton and Peak Forest Canals after restoration. On the way Maria has passed through Marple, where she was built 160 years ago. One of the highlights of the journey has been a visit to the boathorse stables at Wheelock.

Horse tunnel in Marple. Photo: John Lupton

Horse tunnel in Marple. Photo: John Lupton

Wheelock Stables. Photo: Warwick Burton

Wheelock Stables. Photo: Warwick Burton

Light at the end of the Tunnel

New Horseboating Society member Paul Francis helped to leg Maria through Standedge Tunnel in April and has written the following:

“I recently became a member of the Horseboating Society to join in The Celebration of Legging at Standedge Tunnel. This is the longest and highest canal tunnel in the UK with no towpath, burrowing through the Pennine Hills between Marsden and Diggle.

Legging gave me a fabulous history lesson and a real appreciation for what life was like in Britain’s industrial revolution. Not to mention an appreciation of what a stunning achievement the building of the canal tunnel was.

I saw cross sections of the drill holes where the Victorian workers inserted the dynamite to blast their way through the hills, and it was a geologists dream to see all the different layers of rock that make up the Pennines.

Apart from all that, words can’t do justice to the moment I first sighted the faintest pin prick of light at the far end of the tunnel, much smaller than the smallest imaginable solitary star in the night sky.

I now know the true meaning of the well-used phrase ‘The light at the end of the tunnel.’

Many Thanks,”

Maria on television

Horseboat Maria was filmed at Standedge and Diggle in 2012 for two separate television programmes. One was repeated in late May and the other is being broadcast in June for the first time.

Maria was on television as a repeat showing on May 28 with the Dan Snow programme “Locomotion”. The boat was towed by Bilbo on the Diggle locks of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, showing the use of canals before the advent of railways. (May be available on BBC iplayer.)

Look out for Maria on “Town” with Nicholas Crane. He legged Maria in Standedge Tunnel in 2012. As the film was to show Nick only as a legger, it was necessary for him to leg from the back cabin roof. The programme will be about the town of Huddersfield. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal only became fully navigable from end to end when the Standedge Tunnel finally opened in 1811 after 16 years of digging and building. The Huddersfield Broad Canal was an earlier navigation and both canals increased trade for the town of Huddersfield.

Standedge 2006

Members of The Horseboating Society legged “Maria” through Standedge Tunnel as part of a special celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of Thomas Telford’s appointment to finish the tunnel.

The Horseboating Society’s big event for 2006 included two attempts by society members to leg Standedge Tunnel – the highest, longest and deepest canal tunnel in the country – on 7th and 14th May. These special events were being held by British Waterways as part of a double celebration at Standedge in 2006: the fifth anniversary of the reopening of the Tunnel and the 200th anniversary of Thomas Telford’s appointment to finish the tunnel.

The horsedrawn boat Maria left Ashton on May 4th to make the full canal journey to Huddersfield and returned by May 15th. Bonny and Queenie provided the horsepower.

On Sunday, 7th May, a team from the Horseboating Society legged the tunnel from Diggle to Marsden in relays of two people at a time. The boat used was the historic horseboat Maria, built in 1854 and believed to have carried limestone into the Colne Valley until 1900.

On Sunday 14th May, one member, Nigel Dix, legged the whole tunnel length from Marsden to Diggle. Bonny the Boathorse walked ‘over the top’ on both legging days while the boat was legged through the tunnel and visitors were invited to join her along Boat Lane.

On both Sundays there was also free entertainment at Standedge Visitor Centre between 12 noon until 4 pm. Visitors were able to take part in traditional games and saw waterway crafts including harness making, ropework, such as making towlines and splicing, and demonstrations on a pole-lathe. Characters dressed in costume added to the atmosphere and members of the Huddersfield Canal Society were on hand to talk about the history of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and its restoration.

Legging through Standedge Tunnel.

Preparing to leg ‘solo’.

The Ashton Packet Boat Company’s historic wooden narrowboat “Maria”, built in 1854, made the horsedrawn journey along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal between Ashton and Huddersfield and back, including being the first boat legged through Standedge Tunnel for 59 years. The passage through the tunnel took 2 hours 52 minutes. Click here for photos.

On the return journey, the boat was legged solo through the tunnel by Horseboating Society member Nigel Dix in a time of 3 hrs 3 minutes. Click here for photos.