Canal boat set to take youngsters out on Doncaster's waterways

It's back home again - 30 years after setting off on its maiden voyage.

Tuesday, 30th January 2018, 10:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th January 2018, 10:40 am
Captains Colin Grace Michelle Lambert and John Betts, pictured on the Adams Ark, which is back in Doncaster, where it was built, for the first time in 30 years. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Adams Ark MC 1

Adams' Ark, a canal boat built for Doncaster youngsters to learn about the canals in the 1980s, is back in the boatyard where it was first fitted out as it prepares to take trips round the borough's canal network for the first time, with a fundraising appeal out to refurbish it inside.

The boat was brought back to Doncaster again on a four day voyage, when a crew of three brought it back from a site in Skipton, on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, where it has been based for the last 35 years.

Tony Sockett, a retired former civil servant who is now the chairman of the Friends of Adams' Ark Canal Boat Trust, is now hoping to see it on the canals locally in the next couple of months, taking groups of local youngsters.

He said: "It took a long time to get it back here - it is a four day journey that involves going through five locks at Bingley Five Rise between Leeds and Skipton. And that is to go a distance that would only take around an hour and a half to drive.

"But has been good to get it back here again."

After the boat was first launched, it was taken off to Skipton, were it has taken groups of children from the borough in the past.

The Friends trust is hoping to take over the ownership of the boat, and has plans that would see it running locally in the winter months.

They are hoping the first voyages around Doncaster will be taking place by March. The boat would then go to Skipton again in the summer, before coming back again to Doncaster in September.

Mr Sockett said: "We'd like to take it out to Barnby Dun and moor it there. Then there would be three ways we could take them from there - towards the North Junction Canal towards Sykehouse, towards Stainforth and Thorne, or into Doncaster itself.

"We will try to canvas the new 30 youth clubs which have recently been set up in Doncaster, as well as the schools and academies. We've already got a booking from Stone Hill School, in Scawsby."

The boat was the first of a number of projects to be included in a new crowdfunding scheme being launched by Doncaster Council. The trust already has a grant from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue from its water safety budget.

The grant will pay for a number of repairs which are to be carried out, and the crowdfunding money would be used for work to improve the facilities on-board, with broadband, and improved catering facilities.

Leigh Guest, a partner at the Thorne Boat Services boat yard in Thorne was one of the first people to work on the boat, back in the 1980s. He is delighted to see it back in the borough again.

He said: "It's great to see it back. It would be great to see it sailing on the canals locally. I've always taken a lot of pride in the boat, having been involved with it for a long time."

Back in 1983, a team of unemployed boatbuilders was commissioned by Doncaster Council in a job creation scheme, which built the boat. Leigh did some specialised work on it before it could be launched.

The boat was named after Les Adams, a Doncaster Council official when the authority was first set up in 1974.