Rosewood Narrowboats, one of the hire boat companies forced to re-locate during the recent closure of 60 miles of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, is to cease operating at the end of the season.
Rosewood Narrowboats, which has been running for 5 years, has a fleet of seven narrowboats between 45 and 60 feet in length, catering for parties of between 4 and 8 people.
The company is based at Reedley Marina, near Burnley, which was in the middle of the closed section of canal. In order to continue in business and not to let customers down, the company's operation was transferred to Nantwich on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire.
Nigel Feeney, who runs the family company, said that transferring everything to Nantwich had been a big upheaval and that a lot of time was spent travelling down there from Blackburn four times a week to turn the boats around.
The business will continue to run until the end of the season but will then close. The main factor behind the decision was the closure of half of the Leeds and Liverpool this year and the risk that this could be repeated in future years. Water supply has been an ongoing problem and there have been restrictions on lock use in previous years.
"It was a carefully thought out decision," Nigel told us. "We had to weigh up the risks, and I did not have enough confidence that it would not happen again."
"We have been selling holidays on the Leeds and Liverpool, and 99% of our customers want to go up over the summit to enjoy the scenic rural part of the canal. Our bookings have dropped off and the canal closure has damaged future bookings."
Nigel said that operating at Nantwich had worked quite well but had been costly in time and money. He had looked at the possibility of re-locating permanently but that would have needed a move of house because of the travelling time involved.
"We are doing this out of passion," said Nigel. "It has taken time and effort to get to where we are, but we can't drive the business forward when things like this happen that are out of our control."
The news comes just as boats start moving again on the canal. The section between Wigan and Colne re-opened last Friday and the remaining 20 miles between Barrowford Locks and Gargrave re-opened today. The sixty mile stretch was closed on August 2nd when reservoir levels reached exceptionally low levels.
Photo: Rosewood Narrowboats