A taste of holidays & life afloat – board a boat at Stone Food & Drink Festival

On Saturday 2 October a visit was arranged to the Canal Cruising Co - the boatyard at the heart of canal town Stone – to explore taking a holiday afloat, life on board a working narrow boat and the restoration of the lost canals of Staffordshire with volunteers from Stoke-on-Trent branch.

Family-run business, Canal Cruising Co., is a great supporter of the work of the IWA and was delighted to host an IWA Waterway Community Day during Stone’s annual Food & Drink Festival. Visitors could explore on board a modern holiday boat, look in the back cabin of an historic working narrow boat and go Wild Over Waterways –WOW – with FREE children’s activities exploring life afloat, traditional canal art and water safety.

There were displays about Staffordshire’s waterways plus an opportunity to buy canal gifts and Christmas cards and take part in a grand draw to win a short break aboard a Canal Cruising Co boat – and all proceeds went to IWA Stoke-on-Trent branch restoration projects such as the nearby Uttoxeter Canal and Burslem Port.

Julie Arnold, Wild Over Waterways Coordinator IWA Stoke-on-Trent branch, comments: “A visit to Canal Cruising Company’s boat yard during the Food & Drink Festival is a fantastic opportunity to discover more about boating holidays and Stone’s great canal heritage. We are also celebrating the centenary of the birth of Tom Rolt, a founding father of The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) and the campaign that has led to the renaissance of canals for leisure and as a focus of regeneration."

Rolt’s book Narrow Boat (1946) describes arriving in the small country market town of Stone, with its graceful buildings, breweries and crowds of Saturday shoppers – and buying a “Staffordshire Evening Sentinel” having lost track of time as he enjoyed his week’s journey on the county’s canals. Indeed, Canal Cruising Co. Ltd has been operating their boat hire business here for over 60 years too - longer than any other on the canals. In 1953 the Wyatt family was instrumental in founding an association of pleasure craft operators that continues to promote boating holidays on Britain’s inland waterways today; now their modern hire boats set standards for quality holidays afloat.

Canal Cruising has always supported the work of IWA and Stoke-on-Trent branch projects; the Waterway Community Day activities are a great way to experience boats and the canal in Stone, and to find out more about enjoying waterways – boating, walking, cycling, fishing and even joining in, getting muddy, working on restoring a canal!”