Roving Canal Traders Association

roving canal traders

The Roving Canal Traders Association is the collective voice of roving canal traders. It aims to give advice to old, new & would-be traders, and holds frequent events giving increased opportunities to all floating traders.

A different floating trader - every one a 'character of the cut' - will be presented in each edition of this magazine.

For more information on the RCTA, or to join, please see Website

Wendy Fern Pankhurst - Wendy Witch

featured roving canal trader

Wendy Fern Pankhurst - Wendy Witch

I live aboard Merly B, a 67' Tyler Wilson nb built in 1988, with my husband whom we call Mr. O and Henry the dog. We're continuous cruisers.

Wendy Witch and Mr O

Wendy Witch

We bought our first boat, Irene, in 2001. She was a 57' iron BCN boat built in 1927, a beautiful boat with great character. She had a 3 pot lister (situated inside next to the loo!), 12v power only and a foot pump if we wanted water, no hot water. She had several leaks, every time it rained we got all the pans out to catch the water. It was damp, smelly and noisy. We were so excited to be living afloat that none of these things mattered.

A few years later we decided to have her lifted out and surveyed. Complete disaster! Her hull was extremely thin in places, she had rotted from the inside due to the leaks. Always get a survey before buying! We learnt the hard way.

We were advised to weigh her in and use the money for another boat, but we had fallen in love with her and so decided to have her overplated. 18 months later she was floating again once more, that was a great day!

Wendy Witch - Irene before welding

Wendy Witch - Irene after welding

In 2018 we bought Merly B and we feel so blessed, another beautiful boat but this time with hot running water, proper plug sockets, lights, even a heated towel rail! Also an engine conveniently placed under the back deck, not inside the boat! This is our forever home.Merly B narrowboat

my business

My Wendy Witch business began in 2000. I'm a White Witch and Celebrant. I have been pagan all my life. My beliefs and skills have been passed down through generations and I'm proud of my heritage.

I have been reading the Tarot since I was a child. During the winter my Tarot readings are on board, in the warm weather outside on the towpath. The readings are an hour long, I don't like to rush and we have tea, coffee and sometimes cake!

Wendy Witch, Hallowe'en

a selection of Tarot Cards

inside narrowboat Merly B

I also conduct Handfasting Ceremonies (Pagan Weddings), Baby Naming Ceremonies and Memorial Services. These celebrations are becoming very popular as many people are looking for alternatives to traditional ceremonies. Pagan Rituals have very few rules so the Ceremonies are customised to suit and every Ceremony is different.

Handfasting Ceremony conducted by Wendy Witch

baby naming ceremony conducted by Wendy Witch

As a Pagan I celebrate the 8 sabbats or festivals throughout the year. I even have a Pagan Altar outside my boat. My altar is a log which I keep on the roof whilst travelling and place on the towpath when we moor up. I decorate it with nature's gifts - flowers, fruit, seeds, stones, feathers etc and redress it for every Sabbat. It makes a great talking point for passersby!

Altar on towpath beside Merly B narrowboat

decorated altar on towpath beside narroboat Merly B

During the summer I have a plant stall with annuals and perennials which I grow on the roof. All the proceeds go to The Huntington's Disease Association. The only thing I initially missed when we moved onboard is my garden but I soon realised that it's amazing what you can grow in a pot!

Living on a boat has been a dream ever since I can remember, making it a reality has been a wonderful experience. We are within nature, detached from 'normal' life. Many of my customers remark that they never knew this canal life was here, even though they drive over it often; "Do you live here all the time?"

The boat people, the wildlife, the seasons, the freedom...all of these things make the canal special, like a long, wet village.

I am truly at home living on the cut, I feel I belong here and here is where I will stay.

Wendy Fern Pankhurst - Wendy WitchWendy lives aboard Narrowboat Merly B with her husband and a mad dog. They chug up and down the Grand Union Canal conducting Pagan Ceremonies, creating Magic Spells, giving Tarot readings, and selling plants. There's always a plant stall outside the boat, which has raised hundreds of pounds for The Huntingdon's Disease Association. Wendy enjoys reading, gardening (on the roof), and walking the countryside towpaths. 

You can follow Wendy Witch on Facebook or Instagram (Wendy_Witch) visit her Website or contct her by Email

previously featured traders

Brian Greaves - floating blacksmith      Lorraine Stevenson - the mad hatter


Lesley & Rob Pearson     Shiam Wilcox - Fern Floating Fine Art

Sam Keay - gangplank gins     Fiona Lewis - Fi's Fabulous Floating Emporium

Peri Pigott the narrowboat weaver    kte louise evans - josie moons floating bazaarChris Hicks, Chilligibbon's Stringed Things    wayne sadler, barge inn boozepete and jules - the hippie boat

buy online from a roving trader

  • GillyFlower - the Narrowboat Weaver (Peri)
    Individual and unique handwoven textiles made from a mixture of re-claimed and new wools. 
    To buy online visit Peri's Facebook
  • Floating Dolly Lady (Joanne & Steve)
    floating dolly lady
    Amazing range of metal birds as well as Russian Dolls.
    Buy online by going to Facebook
  • Bird Box & Jenny Wren (Andrea)
    Host of loving handmade items such as knitwear alongside other gifts such as Bags, Scarves, Rugs, Hats, Jewellery and handmade wooden items.
    For mail order go to Facebook
  • Canal Art by Julie
    Canal Art by JulieHand painted canal ware and items of canalia such as tea towels, model boats etc.
    Please visit website
  • Stitch on the Water (Colin & Gillian)
    Making a variety of embroidered gifts including cushions for children and adults, Bags, hand tied keyrings, embroidered earrings, cot quilts etc.
    Please see Facebook
  • Last Night in Limehouse (Zoe)
    Hand painted leather dog collars byZoe Marsden
    Individually hand painted luxury dog collars (predominantly for sight-hounds)
    Please visit Etsy shop
  • Paw Prints Afloat (Doggie Boat & Tim Clarke Photography)
    All manner of doggie essentials: leads, collars, bandannas, portable water bottles & collapsible bowls, plus toys & healthy treats.
  • Visit Website to buy online
  • Gangplank (Sam)
    Cafe/bar. Creator & seller of foraged fruit spirits (Gangplank Gins) cordials and preserves.
    Visit Website
  • Julie Weir Art
    Wildlife Artist who paints with Watercolours & Acrylic inks. Also Online Watercolour School.
    Visit Website
  • Fern Floating Fine Art (Shiam Wilcox)
    Fern floating art
    Flora & Fauna Artist, prints framed or unframed, greetings cards.
    Browse & buy online 
  • Dazzle Paws (Sheena Orton)
    Hand made dog collar by Dazzle Paws
    Dog collars, bandanas and accessories, all lovingly hand made.
    Browse and buy online