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Anglo Welsh Celebrates 55 years afloat

Anglo Welsh Celebrates 55 years afloat

Carl Cowlishaw, Operations Director for Anglo Welsh, reflects on 55 years of providing great value narrowboat holidays

This year we are delighted to be celebrating our 55th birthday.  In that time, we’ve grown from a fledgling canal boat hire company, operating just two boats from Market Harborough, to one of the largest operators on the network.  We now offer over 160 narrowboats for hire from 11 bases across England and Wales.

Since we began operating, Britain’s canals have undergone an incredible renaissance, with hundreds of miles of canals restored to navigation and over £1billion invested in the network.

Tom Rolt inspired a generation to fight to save the waterways

In the 1960’s, freight carrying on our waterways had been in major decline for decades.  It was Tom Rolt’s pioneering journey on narrowboat ‘Cressy’ in 1939 and his book ‘Narrow Boat’, that inspired a generation to fight to save Britain’s ailing inland waterways network, and sparked the beginning of the canal boat holiday era.

Canal boat holidays in the 1940’s and 50’s were usually on ex freight-carrying boats, altered to provide very basic accommodation with no shower, freshwater storage, heating or insulation.  Instead, it was just camp beds, pump toilets, camping stoves and blankets.

In 1968, Barbara Castle’s Transport Act officially recognised the nation’s canals as a leisure resource, paving the way for new life to be breathed into the network.  And by the 1970’s Anglo Welsh had established itself as a fully operating hire boat company.  Back then we were running a fleet of 48 narrowboats out of four locations – Market Harborough, Trevor, Wootton Wawen and Great Haywood.

Today, after decades of investment by successive governments, and the tireless efforts of thousands of canal restoration volunteers across the country, the canal network is in great shape.  There are now over 35,000 canal boats on the network, and around 350,000 people holiday on the canals each year.

All mod cons are provided on today’s holiday hire boats

As well as a thriving network to cruise along, the standard of accommodation on board today’s purpose-built holiday narrowboats has changed dramatically.  All the essential mod cons are provided on board our purpose-built holiday narrowboats.

From central heating and hot water to TV’s, WiFi, fully-equipped kitchens, showers and flushing toilets.  Here at Anglo Welsh, we offer a range of boats – from traditional value for money narrowboats, to the very best in luxury and space afloat, with extra shower rooms and toilets, more space per person and multi-fuel stoves.

Our holidays are more popular than ever

The coronavirus pandemic has led many people to explore their local area for the first time, and discover the beauty of their local waterway.  And with staycations increasing in popularity, our holidays have never been more popular.

We look forward to welcoming you on board

We are very much looking forward to welcoming canal boat holiday-makers back to our boats and the canals.  Customer service continues to be of paramount importance to us, so whether you’re a complete novice or an experienced canal boater, our knowledgeable staff are on hand to provide all the advice you need.  We can help you to choose the best boat, departure point and route for you, and your family or friends.

On behalf of the Anglo Welsh team, we’d like to thank all our customers for coming to us for their canal boat holiday experience over the last 55 years.  We look forward to continuing to provide great value canal boat holidays, and hopefully welcoming you on board again soon!

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Be Inspired

We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations

City Breaks
Rural retreats
Popular places

So why choose Anglo Welsh?

More than 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays.
Modern & spacious narrowboat holiday fleet – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly holidays, pets also welcome.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

...but don't just take our word for it

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