The Dacorum Narrow Boat Project is a local voluntary group formed to provide a canal boat for the young people of the Dacorum District and others.
To keep costs down, most of the maintenance work on the narrow boat is carried out by members of the Project and new members are always welcome.
As a non-profit making venture we can bring canal cruising as an educational or recreational activity within the reach of schools and other groups of young people that would otherwise not be able to afford to enjoy this great amenity.
A Brief History
The 'Belfast' has had a long history, not only since 1936 when she was built for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Co. But since 1971 when she was bought by the Project after a year of dances, jumble sales, raffles and fairs to raise the funds.
The Belfast was one of a number of ex-working boat hulls lying in a dilapidated state on the Wendover Arm, with no engine or rudder and offered for sale by the British Waterways Board.
An offer by the Project of £500 was accepted by the Board and the hull was towed to a boat yard in the Midlands to have a second-hand diesel engine fitted. With an engine and rudder in place the Belfast was then moored at The Fishery, Boxmoor where the long task of cleaning, painting and fitting-out was undertaken by the Project team.
The Belfast had come with nothing more than a traditional boatman's cabin and an engine room, so the fit-out was a serious undertaking, a timber cabin top had to be constructed, the hull lined and all the interior fittings such as the galley, toilets and bunks planned and built.
By the end of 1972 the boat had begun to generate income from hiring and rapidly became popular with schools and youth clubs in the area as it still is today. In 1980 a new mooring was granted by the Dacorum District Council on the site of a former refuse site at Nash Mills.
This mooring also offers storage space for the shoreside equipment required to run the project and maintain Belfast and a good car parking area.
All boats need a lot of maintenance, and the Belfast is no different. Over the 25 years since the Project began Belfast has gone through many stages of improvement. Firstly when a new engine and gearbox was installed to replace the original second-hand one. Then the wooden boatman's cabin which could no longer be maintained was replaced with a steel shell and new layout inside, as was the cover on the main cabins in 1986 when the first major re-fit of the accommodation was carried out, including the installation of central heating and a shower unit.
Finally a complete internal refit was completed in 1998, bringing the accomodation, galley, toilets and shower up to a really high standard.