Narrowboat Dane, built in 1946, is now moored at tourist attraction Middleport after a five-year-long conservation project to lovingly restore her to her former glory and rescue her from years of decay and disrepair.
It is believed the barge was built in the boatyard next door to the pottery and she spent her working life bringing clay from Cornwall to the Potteries. Now 70 years after starting her service on the Trent and Mersey Canal, Dane is moored once more on her original stretch of waterway.
The 70-foot-long narrowboat is now a key part of the Middleport experience and plans are currently being drawn up to use her for educational activities, public tours and even boat trips.
Marketing Manager Sarah Nadin said: “Many of our visitors tell us tales of living, working and playing along the canals in Stoke-on-Trent and the waterways are a critical part of the Stoke-on-Trent story. We really want to use Dane to capture those tales and make sure that these family anecdotes are retold for future generations to hear.”
The heritage attraction is also in contact with a local crate maker who made crates for barges such as Dane and is investigating the feasibility of restoring the Middleport loading crane. This would mean it may be possible to demonstrate loading her with crates exactly as would have been done just after World War II.
It seems that Dane was a working boat for various companies until the late 1950s before becoming a pleasure boat. In 2012 she was purchased as a rotting shell by the Narrowboat Heritage Foundation and moved from Middlesex to Alvecote Marina, near Tamworth. Enthusiasts at the charity spent thousands of hours over five years expertly restoring the craft into what many now believe to be the most authentic rebuild of a wooden narrowboat for more than 30 years.
Sarah said: “The craftsmanship completed on this boat is breath-taking and we are absolutely delighted to provide a long-term home for Dane. This is a very important piece of Stoke-on-Trent history that we want to showcase to the best of our abilities and want a better way to do that than through local tales by local people.”
To contact Middleport with your anecdote or story, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing in to Boat Stories, Middleport Pottery, Port Street, Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 3PE.
The Middleport experience includes a visitor centre with original Victorian offices, an enormous bottle kiln – one of few remaining – and Europe’s largest collection of ceramic moulds, along with the Middleport Studios and Burleigh Factory Shop. The centre is open from 10am until 4pm daily. The Middleport factory tour gives visitors the unique opportunity to see pottery produced from start to finish using techniques dating back to the 1880s. Tours can be can be pre-booked via the website at www.middleport.org
To find out more about Middleport, visit www.middleportpottery.org
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Notes to editors:
Formerly The Princes Regeneration Trust, United Kingdom Buildings Preservation Trust, (UKHBPT) became an independent organisation in December 2016. HRH The Prince of Wales is UKHBPT’s founding patron.
UKHBPT is a registered charity – Charity number – 1059662.
All enquiries to: UKHBPT Marketing Manager Sarah Nadin – email@example.com