Monday, 31 August 2020

Britain's oldest horse-drawn barge which once featured in Coronation Street is forced to stop river trips

The owner of one of the country's oldest working horse-drawn barges has been forced to stopped her river trips after clashes with 'snowflake' canal users.

Jenny Roberts, who owns Iona, has closed the Godalming Packetboat Company after 35 years, citing criticism from people using the towpath.

Her horses, Buddy, Alizee, and Espoir have been retired and the Iona, which was built in 1935, loaned to the Tiverton Canal Company on the Grand Western Canal in Devon. 

There are now only three locations in Britain running horse drawn barge trips - Llangollen, Newbury and Tiverton, and apart from Iona all the boats are later built replicas.

But Jenny says that 'snowflakes' who do not understand the nature of the business have accused her of animal cruelty.

And clashes with people who refused to step back to allow the horses to pass made journeys too stressful.

The large number of people using the area for recreation, playing on inflatables and maneuvering boats about in the water, and crowding the towpath, means she can't operate her boat safely.

'No-one is sadder than me because I have been doing it for 35 years.'
'It's been getting worse over the last couple of years,' she said.


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