Horseboating with Historic Narrowboat Ilkeston

The Horseboat Ilkeston was built in West Bromwich in 1912 and is celebrating 100 years on our canals. At the time she was built horses were starting to be replaced by steam & motor powered vessels so was probably last drawn by a horse in the 1920’s or 30’s. She was used for carrying general cargo & later as a mud boat.

The National Waterways Museum has just finished the restoration of Ilkeston back to her former glory and the boat is now back at Ellesmere Port having completed a journey of about 450 miles.

In early August we were delighted to be asked to pull Ilkeston with a horse for the first time in about eighty years. We chose Joshua, one of our three Shire horses for the task as he works very steadily and is always ready for a new challenge. He took to the job immediately and calmly pulled Ilkeston for about two miles between Croxley Green & Rickmansworth.

Towards the end of September we met up again with Ilkeston on her homeward journey & once again Joshua pulled Ilkeston for about three and a half miles between Banbury Lane near Rothersthorpe, Northamptionshire & Heyford Wharf. More details can be found at  

Photos by Lawford Thomas