Our narrowboat ‘The Trebalisa’ was purpose-built for the Centre under Urban Programme funding in 1993. It was designed to make a ‘floating classroom’ with access for people with disabilities and it was built by Selwyn Jordan at the Jordan and Till boatyard in Wolverhampton.
We operate the boat to enable groups to have access to the canal network, with its peace and quiet, unique wildlife and rich local history. We take groups of all ages and abilities for school trips, community and corporate outings or private family bookings. Our youngest users have been babes in arms and the eldest so far was over 90.
The boat leaves from our wharf at Wildside and returns there. Space is usually available in our car park for passengers to leave their cars.
On a trip to Wightwick, you will be able to go through the locks and see how they work. If the skipper decides conditions are safe, you may get a chance, if you wish, to steer the boat or help operate the locks under supervision. And anywhere on your trip, if you are lucky, you might see a kingfisher, a heron or a water vole.
‘The Trebalisa’ is licensed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to carry an absolute maximum of 25 passengers plus the skipper and crew. Generally groups will be more comfortable with around 20 passengers.
We can operate on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, between Autherley Junction and Stourton, and Autherley Junction and Great Haywood Junction; on the Shropshire Union Canal between Autherley Junction and Norbury Junction; and on the Birmingham Main Canal to Tipton.
Our narrowboat skippers are fully qualified with the Boatmaster’s Licence (Tier 2, Level 1).
The boat has bench seating, central heating, lift access for wheelchairs, two toilets, a sink for washing up and cupboards.
We usually supply hot water flasks and tea and coffee – donations are requested. We have clipboards, quizzes, worksheets and pencils and crayons on board to interest users.
Carers are responsible for helping their own charges onto the boat.
For passengers who can walk, access is from the deck down three steps into the cabin.
There is a folding wheelchair that can be used to assist passengers who are ambulant but find access difficult due to limited mobility. They can then use the bench seating in the cabin.
We can accommodate up to 3 wheelchairs on a trip but passenger numbers must be reduced accordingly.
Normally for one or two wheelchairs, we would reduce the maximum total number of passengers to eighteen.
For three wheelchairs, we would normally reduce passenger numbers to twelve passengers.
Please ask for advice when booking.
We can take wheelchairs on the boat but we cannot accommodate large motorised wheelchairs, recumbent wheelchairs or motor scooters. The maximum size for a wheelchair is 700mm wide x 1200mm long. Two small ramps have to be negotiated from the wharf onto the deck, so a maximum weight of the user and their chair should be no more than 20 stone.
There are two toilets on board. One will adapt to accommodate a wheelchair.
Please note that all timings are approximate as they depend on the amount of traffic on the canal. The timings for trips are given allowing for waiting times at the locks etc.
- A trip of 3hr 30 minutes from the Centre to Wightwick and back, including a stop. You pass through two locks each way. You can stop for a picnic at Wightwick or book a pub lunch or some groups like to get chips from Compton and eat them on the way.
Start time is normally 10.00am but start times can be arranged to suit your group, bearing in mind that the boat will return to the Centre in daylight hours.
- A 90-minute trip to Autherley Junction near Pendeford. This trip allows people to experience a narrowboat trip in a short time. It is popular with large groups as some of the group can walk to the turning point and then swap with the passengers enabling lots of people to benefit from the boat trip.
- A five-hour trip to ‘The Fox and Anchor’ at Coven, including time for a meal. You can make your own arrangements to have a meal at the pub and enjoy a relaxing journey to and fro.
- A six or seven- hour cruise to Brewood. This includes some free time in Brewood to explore this delightful small town or have a meal.
In our Holiday Programmes, we also offer family boat trips open to everyone. These are advertised in our usual Holiday Programme publicity and should be booked as indicated there. Most holiday open boat trips go to Wightwick and stop for a picnic.
Costs for this financial year are shown at on the costs page.
From time to time, we are able to raise funds from donors or charitable trusts to help particular groups with the costs of their trip.
In the past this has occurred for schools and for groups for people with disabilities or long-term health needs.
Each grant will be specific in its terms and its time limits.
If cost alone prevents your group from using the Centre or the boat, please ask when requesting a booking if we can offer any assistance.