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Robert Mackenzie

The Horseboat Ilkeston

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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 she 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 currently moored at Batchworth Lock, Rickmansworth where she is on view to the public before continuing on her journey to the London Canal Museum.
On Saturday 4th August Chiltern Open Air Museum in Chalfont St Giles was asked to provide a horse to pull Ilkeston. This was to be the first time she had been horsedrawn in about eighty years. Westwinds Joshua, one of the museum’s three Shire horses was chosen for the job 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 to the delight of onlookers on the towpath and at Batchworth Lock. More details can be found at and further photos & video at
The Rickmansworth Waterways Trust presents an afternoon of historic boats & music with Ilkeston, Roger & Joshua the boathorse on Saturday 18th August at Batchworth Lock from 12:00 to 17:00
Photos by Lawford Thomas

Robert 3
Robert 2
Robert 1