Having reflected a little more on yesterdays Historic Narrow Boat Club (HNBC) meeting, just a couple more thoughts on issues that, for me, have a resonance beyond the sometimes rarefied world of historic boat ownership.

1. CART: Two of the Transition Trustees attended the meeting. John Dodwell and Jane Cotton gave upbeat responses to both the questions tabled before the meeting and questions from the floor. They came across as genuine, thoughtful, responsible, professional and utterly committed individuals bringing a vast amount of essential skill, experience and knowledge to the enormous task of creating CART. They spoke with energy, passion and optimism, and I fully supported the warm applause they received and the general feeling at the meeting that, in order to protect the assets of the waterways from ever decreasing DEFRA investment and the voracious appetite of the Treasury, it is essential that the new Trust be a success, and that it was beholden on us all to give the Trust as much support as possible – as it simply has to succeed.

2. If we are to really make CART a success then it’s also absolutely vital that there’s so much more active public engagement in every aspect of the waterways, not just from those individuals fortunate to own a boat (or those who, in my opinion are in an even more fortunate position ie. they own a historic boat…) but everyone and anyone who holds a passion for industrial heritage, wildlife/bird life, natural history, angling, our national heritage, public amenity, linear open space/park/green spaces etc. etc. The list goes on…

So the decision of the membership of the HNBOC to remove the ‘O’ ie. the need to own a boat to achieve full membership was, for me, a significant and positive move towards a much more inclusive and democratic HNBC; a move that was, in my opinion, in keeping with, and supportive of, the aspirations for public engagement, embedded in the remit of the Trust.

3. I feel it was also important that the majority of the membership attending the meeting so effectively debunked the myth that non-owners are in some way less passionate about the ‘guardianship’ of historic boats, and that all owners have, in the past, necessarily been the best guardians of the historic boats they owned… if that were actually the case we’d never have lost a historic boat! The debate was at times rightly impassioned, even heated, yet the decision ultimately arrived at, to open up the membership of the club and the Committee to all, was absolutely the right one.

ps. An It’s a small world moment – as usual at a HNBC meeting there was a members shop selling second-hand books, cards etc. I picked up a few second-hand copies from the ‘Shire’ series of booklets. Last night browsing though Tom Chaplin’s ‘a short history of the Narrow Boat’ on page 39 I came across an image which is almost identical to the one I’d featured in Fridays post (click HERE). It had a caption explaining that the image showed (of course!) Caggy Stevens, in the 1970’s, working a horse operated day boat through Farmer’s Bridge Locks – so not only do I have another great little ‘Shire’ book added to my collection, but I have an answer to the question I posted in Friday’s post.

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