marine safety & training business expands in the midlands

marine safety and training business expands in the midlands

Birmingham & Midland Marine Services Ltd offer a wide portfolio of services to the Civil Engineering, Rail, Utilities, Environmental, and Ecology sectors, working in an open water environment.

  • Occupational Water Safety & Rescue Training
  • Procurement, Project & Safety Management
  • Commercial, Support, Safety & Rescue Vessel Services
  • Boat Coxswain & Crew Training – Workboat, Powerboat & Safety /Rescue boat

Companies and organisations working on, beside or above open water are faced with a multitude of logistical complications; in fact, a ‘minefield’; ranging from obtaining workboats, floating welfare vessels, pontoons, safety boats, licences, permissions, marine risk assessments, obtaining lifejackets and rescue equipment, plus sourcing the appropriate training specific to the environment in which they will be operating.

water safety training

training session on working boat

Further complications can include providing emergency first aid support at these often-inhospitable waterside locations, seldom easily accessible by ambulance

Training requirements can be confusing for Human Resources and Health & Safety Managers: The HSE, DEFRA and the CDM Regulations 2015 all have a requirement for training and the levels of training required also change depending upon the location of the watercourse, the specific environment and the expected level of water contact those personnel are faced with.

Potentially having to contract a specialist safety team to cover the water margins is a further complication; to what level should the rescue teams be trained? with what equipment, licences, and insurances?

Does this sound like a stressful day at the office?

In steps Birmingham & Midland Marine Services Ltd.

water safety training - river

water safety training dinghy

Headed by Rich Gray, Maritime & Coastguard Agency Boat Master, ‘Water’ Rescue Instructor and Rescue Boat Operator with 23 years’ experience in the industry; Birmingham & Midland Marine Services was established in 2013 and expanded as a Limited company in 2020 in the middle of the Covid 19 pandemic.

water safety training in action

water safety training with dinghy

As a small yet niche business servicing the civil engineering, rail, utilities, environmental & ecology sectors, supporting & training the ‘Search & Rescue’ sector, clients are assured of a one-stop-shop approach to having the project supported from the initial tendering process to completion.

water safety training - throwing a life line

people on water safety training course

Registered with Achilles on the National Procurement Framework, the Commercial Boat Operators Association, the Inland Waterways Association and British Marine, approved trainers to the Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency, the companies’ credentials are assured.

Current contracts include Marine Support of a major National Infrastructure Rail project and training provision is available for National Flood Resilience personnel. Canal & River Trust approved contractors with ties to the pontoon and specialist marine plant sectors.

Procurement and provision of specialist floating equipment, access solutions, and safety management systems and training all in one package.

outreach rescue - water safety training

MCA and RYA approved training centre

Approved Training providers for Outreach Rescue, The Maritime & Coastguard Agency, the Royal Yachting Association, the Royal Life Saving Society and the Canal & River Trust’s ‘in-house’ training scheme,’ CAATS’, a broad portfolio of courses are on offer.

Sector specific training can be advised upon, and accredited courses delivered ‘in-house’ by our specialist training team.  Aquatic PPE and safety / rescue / medical equipment can be procured for clients from our framework of suppliers. Workboat and Rescue boat training a speciality.

Recent courses developed by Birmingham & Midland Marine Services include a bespoke ‘Small / Inflatable Craft’ course for the Canal & River Trust’s Craft Licencing Department and an ‘Inland Waters – Rescue Boat Operator’ course, certificated by Outreach Rescue.

This new rescue boat course bridges the gap in the safety / rescue boat training sector. Basic Powerboat handling and ‘sailing club’ type ‘Safety Boat’ qualifications were not designed to satisfy commercial or industrial safety / rescue vessel role requirements -the DEFRA Module 4) Rescue Boat qualification which is utilised by Fire & Rescue specialists in ‘swift-water’ and flood environments is ‘over-kill’ for the requirements of a ‘standard’ safety / rescue boat crew working in many land-locked counties, hence the development of a far more suitable and accessible training course.

canal tunnel with workmen

water safety training - rescuers on dinghy

This new RBO course is ideally suited to companies wishing to provide an element of in-house support on the water, derived from the higher-level course yet excluding the fast-flowing water, tidal and coastal considerations. The syllabus includes casualty management, recovery, shallow-water operations, capsize drills and search considerations.

water safety training - capsized dinghy

water safety training - jeep and boat

For those companies looking to provide their personnel with relevant First Aid Marine Environment training, encompassing elements such as the protocol for drowning within CPR, crushing, amputations, use of tourniquets, cold water shock, hydrostatic squeeze and vasoconstriction; elements not found in a ‘standard’ First Aid at Work course, Birmingham & Midland Marine work with our TQUK registered partner to provide bespoke marine environment Level 3 TQUKS regulated (RQF) Emergency First aid at Work, First Aid at Work and First Responder (IPOS) courses. 1, 3 and 5-day courses available. The higher-level award also covers spinal management and oxygen therapy.

Royal Yachting Association VHF radio and First Aid courses also available at Gailey Wharf Training Centre with our partnering trainers.

Occupational Water Safety & Rescue courses are, in the main delivered via the Outreach Rescue DEFRA training programme. Based upon the DEFRA Flood Rescue Concept of Operations documentation, and commercial river-based courses are based around the Annex ‘H’ syllabus, satisfying the Environment Agency as well as DEFRA. Basic DEFRA Module 1), Module 2) Water Rescue First Responder and Module 3) Water Rescue One Technician courses also available in ‘closed course’ format by arrangement.

Commercial Boat courses include workboat oriented RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate training, Powerboat Level 2, Rescue Boat Operator and Maritime & Coastguard Agency Boat Master training, including ‘Boat Fire Safety’ and ‘Water Safety & Personal Survival’ ancillary courses.

With the company’s primary base being canalside at Gailey Wharf on the Staffs & Worcester Canal, Base-Two at a privately owned stately home with sixty-acre lake and licences and permissions in place for various other venues including National Trust property, our training areas a both diverse and dynamic: the marina, farm shop and cafe at one of our training venues in Great Haywood, Staffordshire is owned by the descendants of the inventor of the lifejacket!

water safety training - rescue of man in water

water safety training team

New courses are being developed and accreditation is underway, examples include the ‘Inland Waters Marine Operator Programme’. The IWMOP is full suite of courses available as a package and aimed at those looking to break into the inland and open water commercial sector is currently being developed for roll-out during the Spring of 2022. The ‘IWMOP’; is a four-week programme developed to take a novice to a sufficient level of competency to begin working in this expanding sector.

Another course under development is our ‘Workboat’ course; specifically designed to provide relevant training and experience to commercial skippers and coxswains, working on category ‘A’ & ‘B’ waters, canals, and non-tidal rivers. Covering craft ranging from small inflatables, landing craft, displacement workboats, pusher tugs and towing operations. Again, breaching a gap between a leisure oriented RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman licence and a full Maritime & Coast Guard Agency Boat Master’s Licence.

A ‘Rescue & Recovery from Lock Chambers’ course and a boat-based HIAB Operator course are also planned for the 2022 season.

Further information can be found on the company website: and the Management team are always happy to invite potential clients to their Gailey Wharf canalside depot or our second training centre and event location at the Chillington Estate in Staffordshire to discuss their requirements.

water safety training - workboat training in lock

my alerts!


First of all, a little background.

Canal living is particularly attractive to retirees… as a result, the boating community tends to be significantly older, on average, than the population at large (the latest reliable estimates suggest that, since the turn of the millennium, the mean age of a permanent boater had risen by a little over four years, to 59).

Sadly, the wisdom of age is served with a generous side order of underlying health conditions, ominously referred to in these pandemic times as 'co-morbidities'.  A fact that I know all too well!

It gradually dawned on me that, should I become incapacitated in some way, then giving first responders or carers access to my medical information would significantly improve my treatment and prognosis.

My own research revealed that all front line emergency workers (Police, Fire fighters, Paramedics & hospital medical staff etc.) are trained to look in a non-responsive patient's wallet, purse, bag or pockets for medical notifications.  They also routinely examine a patient's wrists for 'medical alert' bracelets;  silicone wrist bands that are widely available to purchase on the internet from around a fiver or so, and cover a wide variety of conditions and drugs.  Unfortunately, these bands only alert to one specific condition or medication.

In my case;  I have type 2 diabetes, and take anticoagulants (so called 'blood thinners'), beta-blockers and a vasodilator for a heart condition, so I used to wear four.

I should, in fact, have worn at least one more, but the medications prescribed for that particular condition changed too frequently for my Amazon account to keep up with all of the orders… thank goodness I didn't have any dangerous allergies, or I would have run out of arms!  :o)

With a professional background in web software development, I set about designing a better mousetrap, and the result is now available to you as MyAlerts!

Guaranteed privacy…

When you register online, you'll receive a membership card with a holographic Personal Identification Code (PIC), which gives first responders instant access to your most important medical information on a mobile phone, laptop or tablet, 24 hours a day.

MyAlerts! will never ask for your name, telephone number or email address, and there's no need to worry about anyone guessing your PIC... with 1.6 Billion possible combinations, a hacker would stand a better chance of scooping the Euro Millions jackpot more than ten times in a row!

You can update your Public Alerts as often as you wish, including any underlying health conditions or dangerous allergies you have (or may develop over time), changes in the medications you are taking, your vaccination status, blood group and emergency contacts.  Because this page is only accessible using the PIC on your card, and doesn't identify you by name (unless YOU decide otherwise!), it is wonderfully secure!

Try it from the point of view of a first responder, by going to and accessing our boater's demo account using the PIC  Z6T84Y

Plus;  the reverse of every card has a QR code which will take a first responder DIRECTLY to your own Public Alerts page.  Again, try accessing the canal demo account by scanning the QR code below…

MyAlerts and What3Words

No internet?  No problem… every card also carries an emergency 03300 telephone number that will be answered 24/7 by one of our volunteer Angel Operators, who will read the contents of your Public Alerts page to the caller!

(03300 numbers are charged at the normal rate from landlines and are included in free minutes from all mobiles!)

MyAlerts! on the cut

Whilst not developed specifically for boaters, MyAlerts! does provide a solution to some of the unique challenges of life on the cut, such as the lack of a fixed address.  For example; when you cruise to a new mooring, simply update the location in your Public Alerts page… and you can show the EXACT position of your boat on any canal, river or marina in the UK using what3words.

Imagine trying to give the Ambulance Service directions to a remote mooring on the Grand Union, South West of Northampton, just after the village of Bugbrooke… about halfway between the Camp Hill canal bridge and Robinsnest Mooring.  Or, just go to and tell them you are located at;  screamed.candle.resorting

(Watch out for more ways you can use what3words in a future issue of CanalsOnline Magazine)

Similarly, although you may be amongst the minority of boaters registered with a doctor's surgery, accessing your medical records is far less straightforward when you could be on any waterway, anywhere in the country.

If you should suffer an accident or medical emergency, whether onboard or during a shopping trip to a nearby town, MyAlerts! could be a genuine life saver.

MyAlerts for pets at home


Imagine a situation where you are unable to return to your boat… what will become of your dog, cat, parrot or goldfish left alone onboard?  This section of MyAlerts! is designed to ensure that whoever you nominate will be alerted to look after them in your absence.

…but at what cost?

MyAlerts! is operated not-for-profit, and so Membership is just £20.99 for five years (then we give you an extra six months free, so that you have plenty of time to renew)… which works out at exactly one penny a day!

MyAlerts and What3Words Editor's note: I sent off for my own MyAlerts! pack, which arrived promptly. I then went online to activate my card and fill in my medical information. It was very easy to do. I now wear the wristband all the time, and go nowhere without my MyAlerts! card - usually tucked in my phone case. I have the reassurance that now, should anything happen to me, all of my medical details are available to those who will need them, and my pets will be safe.

To order your own pack today, simply go to MyAlerts!

a stirling idea

a stirling idea

from Warpfive Fans

Most of us have a mad cap idea at least once in our lifetime. Ours came along a few years ago, when we decided to design and build Stirling engines. Little did we realise how much effort and dedication would be required, but once the bug had bitten there was no going back!

heat used as fuel?

Stirling engines are amazing miniature engines. Three things make them special… they use only heat as fuel, they are almost silent plus they are extremely powerful. Furthermore they have no electrical components and are purely mechanical. Consequently they’re extremely reliable and with care will last a lifetime.

warpfive fans

Warpfive Stove Fans

How do they work? Place the Stirling engine on top of a heated surface and let it warm up. Once the air inside the cylinder has heated at the base of the engine, it is forced up by the displacer to the cool top plate. As this sealed volume of air moves from the warm base to the cooler top plate, it expands and contracts. While it expands it pushes the piston up; and when it contracts it pulls the piston down. The piston is connected to a crank shaft and the oscillating cycle rotates the crank.

Because Stirling engines are very precise little devices, they need to be built with extra care and attention. However the effort is greatly rewarded when the crank rotates and the engine begins to work - this is when the engine produces mechanical power. Industrial Stirling engines produce so much mechanical power that they are used in cryogenic refrigeration, submarine propulsion, and electrical production. At Warpfive Fans... we use the power to spin a fan blade. Our stove fans are so efficient that you can reduce your fuel usage by up to 22%, and heat your narrow boat up to 40% faster.

Warpfive Stove Fans

Warpfive Stove Fans

thermodynamic mumbo jumbo…

Now you know what a Stirling engine is. But why complicate life by delving into this world of thermodynamic mumbo jumbo? The answer is simple really – at Warpfive we care about our planet. Efficient thermodynamic management systems are the future.

Stirling engines are highly compatible with alternative and renewable energy sources. They are extremely efficient, work quietly and can be used on almost any heat source. The Stirling engine is currently exciting interest as the core component of solar powered electricity generators, as well as in the space industry to power satellites.

At Warpfive we’ve gradually expanded our range of Stirling engines to include a variety of stove fans for use on top of your log stove or diesel heater, as well as aroma diffusers and table fans for use in your home. However we still spend an enormous amount of time researching emerging technology and examining the performance of low-emission alternative power sources. Why? – Because we are on a constant drive to improve our products by making them even more efficient.

Over the last 13 years, our ‘Stirling idea’ has evolved into a small family run business. We design and hand-build all of our products here in the UK, whilst always aiming to make a positive contribution to our planet.

warpfive fans

Warpfive Stove Fans

Warpfive Fans logoWarpfive Fans manufacture a range of eco-friendly products for use in your home.  Every product is designed to combine classic elegance with engineering excellence.  We aim to create beautiful products which you can enjoy and admire for a lifetime. All of our products are hand-crafted in the UK from durable materials that have been sourced and worked in the most eco-friendly method possible.

01626 866643   Warpfive Fans

angel community canal boat trust

angel community canal boat trust

Angel Community Canalboat Trust was one of the lucky winners for our free prize draw for a Miracle Leisure brass polishing kit.

brass polishing on narrowboat
The Angel  Community Canalboat Trust (A.C.C.T.) has been operating for over 40 years, carrying about 2000 people each year for both day and residential trips  based on the Regents Canal in London.

Project Manager and Skipper Phil says, “We cater for all sections of the community: from local nursery groups, educational school trips, days out for our Elderly & Isolated passengers, and our recent venture for families who are victims of domestic violence, providing a brief respite from the difficulties they have endured. We offer a safe and nurturing environment to all our users. The highlights of our year are the 5-day residential trips for youth groups, who learn to steer Angel II and operate the locks safely.

“What they see as a fun holiday is also a great educational experience, learning about the history of the canals and discovering the abundance of wildlife that dwells along our inner-city canal system, as well as essential life skills such as teamwork and communication skills.  For many of these young people it is the first holiday they have ever had.

“We believe that if the young people are presented with a well maintained and polished boat, they will respect it and will be happy to take part in and enjoy keeping their temporary home looking its best.

“A.C.C.T. is now up and running again after the recent pandemic; bookings are starting to look up and we are looking forward to welcoming groups old and new.”

If you happen to see Angel II as you travel along the canals, give us a wave and our passengers will certainly be happy to wave back!

We Need Your Help…

The Angel Boat relies on donations, grants and fundraising activities to continue providing trips to local residents at a cost they can afford.

See how you can help us - click here .

Contact: Phil Gavigan, Project Manager/Skipper, A.C.C.T. by email; through the website; or by telephone 020 7490 5125

everything’s coming up roses

everything's coming up roses

narrowboat woolies is transformed!

It is so good when you get to see a narrowboat completely made over through the superb skills of a couple of traditional artists.

Julie Tonkin, trading as Art by Julie, has been in the business for 20 years, but on this occasion she was joined by a relative newcomer Kerri Williams, also known as 'the heritage crafter'.

Graham Paton, owner of narrow boat “The Woolies” has always been a great fan of the traditional artwork created by Julie Tonkin. He already had many of her creations on his boat, so when he decided to have 36 panels painted, Julie was the obvious choice.

He took his boat to Julie in Netherton on the Dudley Number 2 Canal for his artwork to be done. As Julie says, "Graham has the most wonderful engine room which houses his Gardner engine with lots of panels on the walls needing decoration as well as a back door and 3 side hatches."

The work was such a big job that Julie enlisted the help of Kerri Williams, previously Julie's student, then apprentice, then assistant, and now an established traditional artist in her own right. Julie says of her "Kerri is a very talented painter of the future who is keen to uphold the tradition."

julie tonkin nb woolies

julie tonkin nb woolies

Canal Art by Julie

Together they painted the panels in Craftmasters heritage green undercoat with a red frame, yellow undercoat around the panels and, after painting roses and daisies, they added scumble paint and 2 coats of clear varnish.

"There were 36 panels in total and we counted 124 roses, we didn’t even count the daisies!"

Canal Art by Julie

Canal Art by Julie

If you would like your boat doors and panels painted with roses and castles, or items for your boat, please contact us. Julie  and Kerri.

Canal Art by JulieI decorate narrowboats and all sorts of items for narrowboats including water cans, stools, coal skuttles etc. I trade on e bay as "juliecanalart", you can find me on e bay in the "canal barge ware" section. I am also to be found at canal fetes and craft fayres.

I teach canal art as a college subject and to groups

Contact Julie by email, visit her website,  or follow her on Facebook.

kerri williams the heritage crafterHi I’m Kerri - artist, designer and chief mischief maker at The Heritage Crafter.

My passion is decorative art, created on the boat dock or in my paint splattered workshop. The results can be seen here.

Although I have a range of ready painted items, commissions are always welcome.

Contact Kerri by email, visit her website or follow her on Facebook

water and waste tanks for boats

water and waste tanks for boats

the best in fabricated plastic tanks

what we make

We at Goodwin Plastics are now in our 25th year of manufacturing and what a journey we have travelled. From pig farming to the establishing of a large plastics company and then on to the design, manufacture and distribution of bespoke products for all types of industry including agriculture, sports and leisure, and emergency services. We now ship our products to several different countries.

But one of our main businesses is the manufacture of water and waste tanks for canal boats and yachts.

why make tanks out of plastic?

We have come a long way in our manufacture of plastics, until we are now creating the best fabricated plastics on the market.

When creating water tanks, plastic is the perfect material.  It can take any shape or size, is extremely tough and can be made right here at Goodwin Plastics in Crewe.

We make plastic water tanks to meet all specifications.

Polypropylene tanks are very easy to clean, light weight and don’t harbour bacteria - while stainless steel tanks can be very heavy, and do have a tendency to rust at the welded joint.

why are our tanks baffled?

All tanks are fully Internally baffled to help reduce the movement of the liquid which otherwise could cause stress on the tank sides.

Inside the water tanks the baffles are from top to base with areas cut out to allow the passing of water and for the air to escape.

On our waste holding tanks the welding of the tank is the same as that of the water tanks, but the design of the internal baffle is different.

The baffles inside the waste tank are shaped more like a bridge so there is no obstruction for the waste to get behind and build up.

reliable and durable plastic fittings

Our aim is always to make exactly what you need and to use the best possible materials to do it.  That’s why we use plastic such as Perspex and polycarbonate sheeting along with other styles of plastic fabrication.  That way, whatever we make is a strong as possible, durable and long lasting and needs only basic maintenance.

choosing the right tank

Sometimes you know you need a tank but aren’t quite sure of the specifications or dimensions.  We are happy to help with this by assisting you to work out the size of the tank you need before designing it.  All of the tanks we make also come with a standard BSP threaded sockets that are welded into the tank as well as hose tails supplied to screw into position.

All tanks are fabricated with Polypropylene which is a tough and durable plastic that has a high impact strength.

We can provide tanks for any purpose across the country and also offer a range of other plastic fabrications for professional or personal use.

working out the volume

To work out the volume of the tank that you require, there is a calculation as below:

e.g. Fresh water tank 48″ x 24″ x 24″ :

48 x 24 x 24 = 27648 cubic Inches. Divide this by 1728. This will give you the cubic feet volume (16).  Multiply this figure by 6.25, this will give you the volume of the tank in  gallons (100), multiply this figure by 4.54 for litres (454)
The volume of this tank 48″ x 24″ x 24″ is 100 gallon or 454 litres.

Full range of water tanks

We offer a range of water tanks suitable for boats, campers and other mobile homes.

These include water tanks with a pump available in different sizes to ensure you have a steady supply of fresh water.  We also offer polypropylene water tanks that can sit under the hull or bow floor of a boat and meet the latest RINA and AISR standards.

Other tank variations include flare edged polypropylene tanks complete with inspection cover, tri water tanks and also wall hanging water tanks.  The last of these is ideal for mounting behind cabinets or interspaces and have a level indicator flange.

goodwin plasticsWe specialize in creating water and fuel tanks made to standard or custom specifications.  We work in a range of plastic materials including polycarbonate and Perspex.

We can create what you need from scratch if we don’t already have it.  Call us today for an initial no-obligation quote for any plastic fabrication needs.

Tel: 01270 582 516
Visit: website link
And don't forget to like us on Facebook

choose the way you cruise

choose the way you cruise

conquer land or water with the caravanboat Departure One M & XL

caravanboat logo

caravan boat

Living off the grid just got even more interesting!  When we heard the word ‘Caravanboat’ floating around we decided it was too good of an opportunity to miss, so ‘cast off’ those doubts (that was a sailing joke) and get ready for the strangest and most awesome caravan boat in existence!

meet the caravanboat

The tiny house can come in all shapes and sizes, in fact there are really no rules about how you should begin a life of off grid living.

The one factor that people normally take into account is whether they want to live on the land or on the water, but with the Caravanboat you can do both with ease. The Departure One is both a caravan and a fully motorized houseboat for those van dwellers that just can’t get enough of the water! It’s the ultimate cure for Wanderlust, letting you go pretty much wherever you want whenever you feel like it.

what’s inside the caravanboat?

The Departure One Caravanboat is fully kitted out for getting off grid, and has been designed so that you can stock up on supplies for two days living without having to hook up to extra power or refill water for drinking or cooking. What’s more, the Caravanboat has solar panels on the roof so that you can power up on the go or connect to an electrical hook up once you’re back on land.

The Departure One has enough room for four people to sleep inside, and it’s got a fully fitted bathroom too.

There’s a kitchen with induction hobs, hot plate and fridge, and the covered terrace area means that you can sit and enjoy the ocean whilst eating or relaxing with friends. Plus there's a ship's steering wheel inside – any vehicle with a ship's wheel must be OK!

what about landlubbers?

The engine folds up so it’s out of the way when you’re on the land, and a pull out awning means you can keep dry when the elements are against you.

The Caravanboat XL is 8.00m in length and 2.45m in width, but if you’re used to towing trailers with an SUV then you’ll be absolutely fine driving down those tight country lanes.

There are also USB charging points, batteries, LED lights and an on board water heater.

final thoughts…

We love the sense of freedom that the Caravanboat brings to the camping experience, and now you can really take your trip into those far reaches that were otherwise unreachable when you only had your camper with you. On land or off land, the Caravanboat is a luxury vehicle that compliments your sense of adventure and can take you to some truly exciting places. At an affordable price, the caravanboat offers sheer luxury and the freedom to choose how and where you cruise.

editor's note

The Caravan Boat is manufactured in Germany, and the manufacturers are looking for an agent in the UK. The Caravanboat meets UK standards and apart from the road tax for your vehicle, the only thing you will need is a waterways licence for when you are on the water.

You can get short term water licences from the Environment Agency, a one week or one month licence from CRT (for spreading days afloat through the year) and an annual licence for Lake Windermere - worthwhile as it is currently only £19 .

The other thing you would need to consider is launching places. Many Marinas have both Caravan Sites and Slipways. In fact the Caravanboat would be an exciting purchase option for Marinas and Holiday Hire companies who would be able to offer their customers a very different boating, camping or combination holiday.



canalboat agent wanted

We only allow selected shipyards and suppliers to work together on our products and monitor the entire process chain from planning to the purchasing chain and production processes to delivery. Our customers benefit from this effective production concept, which enables good product quality and market-driven sales prices.

Our clients can accompany the entire construction project in close cooperation with us in all work steps and can thus incorporate change requests during the construction progress. Together we build an individual caravan boat for our customers.

caravanboat logo

+49 172 419 72 84 SALES

canal radio uk

canal radio uk

the heartbeat of the inland waterways

Although officially relaunched in June 2020 after the first wave of COVID-19, Canal Radio UK was originally created in 2018 by its founder and owner, DJ and Radio Presenter - Pete Unstead.

Pete and Tracy, owners of canal radio ukThe concept of running an Internet radio station from a narrowboat on the inland waterways, came to me in 2018, when my Tracy and I decided we wanted to join the waterways community of cruising narrow-boaters in Great Britain. We were initially inspired by a TV series we found on YouTube called ‘Great Canal Journeys’ with Prunella Scales and Timothy West. We soon succumbed to the idyllic lifestyle that narrowboat cruising had to offer.

We are minimalists and the idea of living off grid in a tiny home appeals, and although we are not officially retired yet, the narrowboat idea and living on it permanently falls into our retirement plans. I often thought about what I could do to compensate for our living expenses during our retirement, whilst constantly cruising around the UK on a narrowboat and that's when the idea of a canal based radio station came to me.

I first started in radio when I was a lad of 15 years in Southern Africa. I had a Saturday morning 1 hour slot on Steam Radio in a hospital, piping music to patients throughout the wards. From there, I guess my passion for music grew and I have been a DJ now for over 40 years, and more recently in 2011 I joined the world of Internet radio as a Presenter. My career in Information Technology since 1985 has armed me with the skills I required to build and run a radio station over the internet. Back then this stuff was cutting edge technology, unlike today.

I came up with the name, ‘Canal Radio UK’ and its slogan, ‘The heartbeat of the inland waterways of Great Britain’ as a fitting brand identity for what we are trying to achieve. The station is targeted to all people in the UK with an interest in the canals and rivers as well as other boaters around the UK and of course the businesses that live and work on the canal networks. Research I have done suggests that the number in 2019 was around 650,000 people and growing each year. If we had 1% of that number (6,500) we would be very happy. The plan within 3 years is to have around 10,000 concurrent listeners a day.

Canal Radio UK has a Website, a Facebook page and soon we are launching our Instagram account, which is used to communicate and promote the station on social media as this is the most popular platform to get the word out.

The physical radio station (which is 100% internet based) is currently operated from a land based radio studio in our house, with the idea of moving this onto a canal boat in the future so we can move around the canal system. I am working on some plans at the moment and hope to get advice from boat builders on different design ideas.

how it works

canal radio uk artist's impressionHow the station works is like this. The home studio (audio desk) links to a cloud based streaming server via an internet router connected to the web, and listeners connect to the station (streaming server) via the website and/or other numerous app sources such as and My-Tuner Radio, who are well known Internet radio search directories. A person can listen to the station using any number of devices connected to the internet including but not limited too; mobile phones, iPads, laptops and desktops, digital car radios, Internet radios and smart TV’s with android operating systems. Literally any device connected to the internet that has a built in media player can listen to Canal Radio UK.

With my previous knowledge of running Internet radio stations since 2011, I am more than capable of content programming a station with a mixed genre that is not ‘locked in’ to a single genre or profile like most other terrestrial radio stations.

"We are an independent radio station, which means we  play  what  we  want,  or what the listeners want to hear, rather than what the networks and corporations  want us to listen to. Having a mixed genre in  2011  was  a  gamble  and  I  was warned by colleagues in the industry that it will never work.  Well they  were  wrong! It was a huge success when I started Blenz 107.4 back  in  2012  and  it’s  still  a success today. I constantly get comments like “Listening to your  station  is awesome, because you never know what type of song, or what artist is coming up next so you keep listening to see who it is”. It’s people  like  that  we  target  our station towards and now that we have a specific community to support like the inland waterways of the UK, I am confident we will reach our 3 year target  of 10,000 concurrent daily listeners by 2023”. - Pete Unstead (Station Manager)

The world of technology is changing at an ever increasing rate, and I predict within the next decade we will say goodbye to conventional terrestrial (FM / AM) radio stations. With fast mobile Internet now available to almost 99.9% of the population as they go about their daily lives, streamed digital media is the way people will listen to music and talk shows, podcasts etc. By 2030 all available news, music, and video entertainment will be streamed via the internet.

Canal Radio UK’s streamed content is currently in its first phase, which means it’s more of a 24/7 mixed music station with a little bit of talk radio and a few podcasts. As it grows the station will incorporate more talk radio, podcasts and interviews into its daily scheduling.

canal radio uk - dj peteThe station started with only one Presenter-DJ, me, and now it has 5 volunteer British DJs and one American DJ who all stream their music shows each weekend from their own home studios. More are joining us every month. We hope to have a panel of around 10 regular station presenter DJ’s by the end of 2021.

Canal Radio UK is also hoping to promote a Youth Radio Project (Canal Radio YRP), an idea I came up with in 2013. The concept is for youngsters between the age of 10 and 15, to learn about Internet radio streaming and station etiquette and become part of a community of young presenters across the waterways.

There are current vacancies for station operational staff who have had some radio station experience in a previous life to join us as volunteers. So, if you or anyone you might know would be interested in helping manage the daily operations of an Internet radio station, be it in an administration role, content programming or any perhaps a technical role, then please contact me, the Station Manager, at I would love to hear from you.

News and stories relating to the canal network and river system of UK will soon be discussed during our live shows on the weekends and we (Canal Radio UK) want to work as closely as possible with organisations like CRT and IWA to provide our listeners with useful content such as, canal and river maintenance updates, waterway social events and canal closures. We provide this information already via our social media posts on our Facebook page.

The station will eventually have slots available for broadcast on the weekends, for narrowboat owners who want to buy or sell their boats and potentially interact with boat brokers and boat builders. There will also be a weekly Canal Community News segment where non profit organisations can use this platform for free, to inform the inland waterways community. This is scheduled for 2021.

DJ Pete - canal radio uk

Canal Radio UK’s mixed music genre consists of a mixture of classic hits, some Top 40 hits, a little R&B and some Blues, and is finished off with a splash of classic rock and a few classic ballads. The station streams live from the current studio for 18 hours a day, opening up at 6am and closing down at midnight GMT. Between midnight and 6am we stream an automated playlist of chill out lounge and soft jazz to ease you through the night.

Canal Radio UK is a great marketing and advertising tool for all businesses on the canal networks. The station offers an affordable high quality radio imaging service to its customers, as well as a range of other services like website design and hosting, social media content management and electronic brochure (flippable ebook) creation. We currently have four UK sponsors and we are looking for more to join our radio station family.

We currently hold a LMOL (Limited On-Line Music License) and we are licensed to stream music over the Internet through ‘PRS For Music’. You can listen to us anytime by visiting our website at and click on the Listen Now button in the menu. The website also has everything you need to know about the station, as well as how to get in contact with us should you wish to communicate with us. Please also visit our Facebook page by searching ‘canalradiouk’ on Facebook or Google and Like us for updates about shows and news about the station. Let us know your comments, we would love to hear from you. We hope you like what you hear!

canal radio ukCanal Radio UK is the only online music radio station dedicated to serving the community of the inland waterways of Great Britain. Our target audience are everyday people with an interest in canal boats and river cruising around the UK as well as the waterways community of businesses and liveaboards.

winterise your boat

winterising your boat

tips from river canal rescue to help you save on costly repair bills

With winters getting colder and sub-zero temperatures becoming more common, River Canal Rescue has put together some tips on how to winterise your narrowboat and so avoid costly repair bills.

Read More

babies to boats

babies to boats

a journey of new beginnings

If someone had told me 4 years ago when I semi retired from the NHS  that I would own and run a narrow boat holiday business instead of looking after mummies and babies , I wouldn't have believed them for a moment!  And yet here I am running, single-handedly, Tiller Girl Narrow Boat Holidays.

mummies and babies

tiller girl melanie franklin pryce

Having spent my 45 year working life with the NHS, firstly as a Cardiac ICU nurse then Registered Midwife. I have been so very fortunate to have had an exceptional career. I love meeting and working with people from all backgrounds and walks of life, its what makes life interesting and varied.

Having cared for  women, babies and their families for the past 26 years it has been a roller coaster of emotions, but I have loved every minute (Well nearly every one...).

But all good things come to an end and times change. The opportunity to take flexi retirement. I would have more time with my family and hobbies, but keep one leg in midwifery and still maintain a working wage. It seemed to be a good move.

I had for some time been thinking of having a second income such as a self catering property and had been looking for a small cottage preferably in the Yorkshire dales (I'm a Yorkshire lass through and through) or on the Yorkshire Coast to invest my hard earned pension.

My eldest son Ben who bought a narrow boat a few years ago to live aboard and who completely rebuilt the interior, said 'Mum, a narrow boat would be better!'   He  felt it would be easier to maintain and hire out, being closer to home. So off we went to have a look.

a boat of my own

tiller girl luxury boat hire

We were offered a viewing there and then... she really seemed to fit the bill and because she was only 4 years old, we felt she would be a sound investment. My father always said when making a big decision, sleep on it and if it still feels good in the morning then do it!

I had searched the internet to look at average costs and what type and standard of narrow boat was available, the range was mind blowing but we felt that this was the one for us and had lots of potential.

Within a week the job was done!  Following a full survey (which we would always suggest!) and  a bottom blacking, John and I moved her to Sawley Marina and changed her name to Tiller Girl which was John's suggestion because, as he keeps telling me, she is my boat, not ours!

I must admit to waking a few times in the night with  'what have I done, that's a lot of money to spend!' but on the whole couldn't  wait to get started on the refurb!

Tiller Girl was built as a 2 berth live aboard in 2014 and I felt she would  perfectly fit the bill of my idea to have a couples' retreat, a luxury boat for time out and relaxation as well as family holidays.

Then came months of the steepest learning curve ever!  I thought my midwifery  studies were hard, but this was a different kettle of fish and with no guidance or  tutor but myself! Although we had had many river and canal holidays growing up as a family, and having a brother and nephew as marine engineers,  I still spent many an hour on the internet researching hire companies, insurers, Facebook narrow boat pages and the Canal and River Trust website to find out what I needed to run my own hire boat - as well as reading all the manuals and building specs of the boat. My brother Rob, now answers the phone to me  'Canal boat engineer support'! He says I only phone him when I need something...!


And then we started on making the interior into what I felt would be expected of a luxury hire boat.

Every bit of the internal woodwork has been cleaned and sanded, waxed or painted,  a carpenter friend carried out a refit of some of the internal doors,  fitted new oak worktops and breakfast bar and righted all the wrongs or 'unsafes' that were highlighted on the survey. Ben helped me with loads of advice and support with painting some of the exterior.

Learning the ins and outs of how to service and look after a beta marine engine and how the electrics and batteries worked was difficult to say the least and so much to take on board that I must admit to feeling overwhelmed and having doubts whether I could ever manage the boat maintenances. But I pulled up my big girl knickers and faced it head on!

Applying for the commercial licence from The Canal and River Trust meant I had to write a hand over manual which was pretty comprehensive and descriptive and again other boat companies were a great resource (No plagiarizing though!) and having  a good understanding of writing health and safety with the NHS it was finally accepted and my license arrived! The Boat Safety Certificate had to be completed for commercial hire but very little needed to be done which was great news to my  bank account!

Julie Cutts, the manager at Sawley Marina where we decided to moor her,  was an absolute gem as are all the staff (and many of the boat neighbours) and have supported me all the way with great wealth of knowledge of hire boat companies, to mooring and giving us our own embarkation point at the marina and for all of this I pay a commercial mooring fee which is an extra 30%.

I'm sure every narrow boat owner has a dislike for the wind when trying to navigate a 57 foot boat of steel in any wind stronger that a whiff of breeze!  Marinas are so tight on space and with other boaters (experienced or not!) watching and commenting(!) makes it even worse getting out and on to the canal! Red faces and lots of apologies were often the order of the day when first starting to learn manoeuvres! So having the embarkation next to the canal was a god send in the beginning.

Great working relationships are the key, and luckily having experienced this in my job as a community midwife made it easier when dealing with companies, boaters and the general public.

Then COVID-19 reared it's nasty viral head and everything came to a sudden stop! I fully refunded everyone who had made a booking and by this time, funds were running low. I couldn't carry out the planned external painting and the Marina was flooded. So a worrying time all round.

The external painting didn't happen apart from little bits here and there to make her more presentable. Tiller Girl is Sapphire blue and orange and not the colour I had imagined my hire boat  to be, but we have had so many positive comments on the 'Floating Jaffa Cake' that she will remain as she is and I have built our image around it.

By the time I was free to go back on to Tiller Girl, I was eager to get started. Time was running short and I needed her ready for when I could get her out on the water and earn some money!

Enquiries for holidays started coming in as soon as the Facebook, Instagram and web pages were up and running. I had cards printed and sent them to all the marinas in the area, left them on shop notice boards and in chandleries and the marina office.

Bookings for spring and summer came in although a great many enquiries did not lead to bookings.

I wondered if it was to do with the cost/pricing. I had thoroughly researched costs of other hire boats and took an average although I was advised to put the prices slightly higher as it was felt to be 'an exceptional hire boat'.

I offered to donate money to a spaniel re homing group from any bookings on their website which worked well.

I maintained low season prices as I felt this may stimulate custom and it certainly seemed to work as I was fully booked until mid October! Dates had to be flexible due to COVID giving 72 hours between bookings, deep cleaning and my part time work Rota at Sherwood Forest Hospitals

As soon as we were given the all clear from the CRT and the government to begin hiring, I had many more bookings and enquires and our first guests arrived on the 27th July!

Hand over is intensive and  takes around 2 hours, with a tour of the internal features including fire safety, exits and cassette toilet. I encourage all hirers to read the manual and watch the videos on the website prior to coming on Tiller Girl and ask them to sign an agreement that holds them responsible for the boat.

All hand overs are  socially distanced with face masks and hand sanitizer. I have removed many of the luxury features such as books, games and soft furnishings  due to covid-19 and strictly follow the government guidance on deep cleaning.

We then leave the Marina and guide them through to first lock, discuss and demonstrate casting off and mooring up, good water etiquette  and boat manoeuvrability amongst every thing else.

It's a massive amount to take on board (Literally!) and when the guests feel happyish and me too, I leave them and make my way back to the Marina on foot or bicycle. I wish I could take a picture of their faces when I leave! There's such a mixture of panic,  realization and excitement that it's now all up to them!!

There have been a few hiccoughs along the way which I have managed to straighten out without too much hassle; Lack of battery power, inverter problems (due to lack of Battery power), water ingress from the mushroom vents in torrential rain and a leaking stern gland, all manageable thank goodness.

I have my phone next to me 24 hours a day so guests can ring me at any time, I must say they have been very respectful! Experienced HGV drivers and caravan owners seem  have a better understanding of manoeuvrability, the contribution of strong winds and battery power.

Safety is my main concern and I work hard to maintain good safety procedures and an extensive hand over to ensure that beginners are fully aware of the dangers of the water, especially around locks. My heart was in my mouth as I watched a not young, returning guest walk along the roof of Tiller Girl entering a lock!  We supply a range of sizes of buoyancy aids - even some for dogs as we are pet friendly.

I have had a very hard season running Tiller Girl, working as a healthcare professional through covid-19 which led to a much higher work load in the NHS and the strict deep cleaning on Tiller Girl.

There is still plenty to do to reach Tiller Girl's full potential but I am looking forward to another hopefully successful season with much still to learn and experience and many more wonderful guests to welcome aboard.

I have taken the plunge and will be retiring fully from the NHS in January 2021 to focus full time on Tiller Girl! Fingers crossed!

Melanie Franklin-Pryce is the owner of Luxury Narrowboat Hire 'Tiller Girl'.

Tiller Girl is based in Sawley Marina on the Trent and Mersey canal.

07739 709 242