Skip to content Skip to navigation

Welcome to the HNBC

 Random boat image

Welcome to the HNBC

The Historic Narrow Boat Club was formed in 1966 and is a not-for-profit club dedicated to preserving the working heritage of UK canals, from the boats themselves to details of the waterways on which they travel.  We are passionate about working boats, traditional skills, the built heritage, and the practices and courtesies of the working boat people.

We are an active pressure group for navigational and waterway heritage interests and we welcome all who support our aims, whether boat owners or not.  By supporting the Club, you are helping to ensure that the UK’s canals retain their unique heritage value.

We hope you enjoy exploring this website.

Auction of canal related antiques

The Club is organising an auction of canal antiques on Saturday 21 March at the Village Hall, Green Road, Weston, Stafford, ST18 0JQ.

199 Lots including masthead lamps, water cans, tiller arms, tools - and some lucky dips.
Click here to download the catalogue. Click here to browse the lots and view larger photographs.

Six good reasons to join us

  • Our quarterly newsletter, full of interesting articles.
  • Discount offers on boating equipment and services.
  • Access to the ever increasing wealth of information in our narrow boat register and archive.
  • Help and advice on historic craft maintenance through our members' forum
  • Small, sociable rallies.
  • Twice yearly members’ meetings – the AGM in March and the winter social in November, both with interesting speakers.

How to join

You can join us as an individual, joint or associate member.

Read more about how to join

Our NewsletterNewsletter cover

The Club's Newsletter is published quarterly. This is a high quality and lavishly illustrated colour publication with many fascinating features of interest to enthusiasts of historic boats.

Download "taster" Newsletter articles here. Back issues are available in limited quantities from the Club shop.

Why not join the club and get your copy hot off the press every quarter?

Find historic boats...

Boats are listed under their original company name. Detailed listings may be found by using the Historic Boats menu at the top of the page.

Please contact us if you have photos or more information - all contributions gratefully received.

Events   view all

Sat 7 March

The Annual General Meeting of the Historic Narrow Boat Club will be held at Lapworth Village Hall, Lapworth, Warwickshire  B94 6LD.  The AGM starts at 2.00pm, followed by the presentation of the 2014 Keay and Hemelryk awards for the most improved historic boats, and finally an illustrated talk by Phil Clayton on "the BCN and its Boats".

Sat 21 March

The Club is organising an auction of canal antiques at the Village Hall, Green Road, Weston, Stafford, ST18 0JQ. 200 lots.

Click here to view lots and download the catalogue

Sat 4 April

An annual gathering of historic boats at the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port.  Boats make their way there in the preceding weeks, many meeting up at Tower Wharf in Chester on Maundy Thursday, then on to The Port on Good Friday - see the Museum's website for further information National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

Sat 18 April

This year the cleanup will be on the old mainline around Smethwick Locks, Smethwick Junction and the bonfire site.

You are welcome to join in - wear stout footwear and old clothes.  Waterproofs could be a good move.  

Tea and coffee are provided for everyone but bring your own pack lunch, unless you are making a weekend of it through the Waterways Recovery Group WRG.  

More details on the BCNS website.

Club shop

A Boat Builders SketchbookA Boat Builder's Sketchbook

by Ken Keay

A reprint of the original 1993 limited edition, with exclusive new material, a new introduction and new high resolution reproductions of Ken Keay's original drawings.

£15.00 plus £1.30 p&p
SPECIAL OFFER - Free p&p to Club Members

Our Club Shop always has an range of interesting products available. As well as running a stall at various events through the year, we offer a mail order service. Please browse the various categories using the links below

Blank Cards  -  Christmas Cards  -  Clothing  -  Club plaques  -  Maps and books

Navigation issues

Has your boat been stuck on the waterways?  Too shallow, too narrow, too short, too low?

It is very difficult to predict where one boat will get through and another will stick, but there are some well known tricky areas, and we're keen to have up-to-date information so we can identify new problems as well as old restrictions that are getting worse.  Please tell us where you've been stuck, with plenty of detail - eg were you going up or down in a lock, did you stick in the middle?  Also whereabouts on your boat - eg the front bends, the engine'ole bulkhead, the skeg. Read our current list here.

Don't just sort it yourself - tell CRT (03030 40 40 40) so that the problem is logged and then let us know so we can chase it up.  Here is our pinchpoints form, or you can email  Many thanks.

Latest stories   view all

Ivor Caplan (IWA Trustee and CRT West Midlands Waterways Partnership) has put out a request for photographs and information about the Round House in Birmingham.  There are plans between CRT and the National Trust to develop it as an activity centre.  It is hoped that part of the scheme will be a display depicting the heritage of the building and its commercial use as stables.

HNBC was very sad to hear of the death of Alan Brown on 22 February 2015.  Alan was a long standing member of HNBC and an avid collector of boat and engine data.

Ashby Canal Association social meeting March 9th
Teresa and Roger Fuller and Glyn and Rosemary Philips - owners of Ilford and Aquarius - will  present a talk about their experiences accompanied by video footage including  'long-lining' up Audlem locks.  They have many years of working boat experience between them and have toured the waterways of England during 2014 with nearly 40 tons of coal off the Ashby from the adjacent surface mine.

An exploration of life on the canals in Walsall and further afield from the early 19th century to the mid 20th century, drawing on Walsall Museum’s canal collection.  The exhibition features artefacts relating to the everyday life and work of those who made their home afloat, including examples of the distinctive canal art used to decorate boats and living quarters, as well as material relating to the boat-building industry.