Bicentenary Events
Friends of Kennet
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Brief History
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Kennet is owned by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society and has a permanent mooring at Greenberfield Top Lock, in Lancashire close to the border with Yorkshire and is on the National Register of Historic Vessels.
The boat is a river class, cargo carrying Leeds & Liverpool Canal Short Boat which was built for Canal Transport Limited in 1947 by Yarwoods of Northwich.
Short boats were built specifically for the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at the maximum dimensions for traversing the whole canal. The dimensions of the Kennet are;
Length; 62 feet
Beam: 14 feet 3 inches
Draft: 2 feet 9 inches (unloaded)
Engine: Lister 3JPM water cooled diesel engine
Hull: Riveted steel plate
Kennet is managed by a Working Group supported by specialists, working together through the Kennet Co-ordinator. The Working Group is answerable to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society Committee. We are also actively looking to involve new members and associates in order to bring freshness and ongoing sustainability for the future. See Friends of Kennet page.


The Kennet Project

The Kennet Project created a Floating Interactive Museum using the Heritage Short Boat Kennet to travel the 127 miles of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, taking heritage and learning to local communities in the same way as the cargoes of old enabled industry to develop these communities. The public engagement being achieved through storytelling, drama, heritage skills training and multimedia linked to the communities the canal passes through. This enables Kennet to be used as a learning resource for schools and organisations that are local to the canal.

The first phase of the project, ensured the future of Kennet. During this first phase there was well over 4,000 volunteer hours and £46.5k spent on Kennet’s major restoration. This has seen Kennet transformed both inside and out. The work included repairs to the hull & ballast tank, hull protection inside and out, a new hold superstructure with Lutchet, new sheets, paintwork and livery of the Canal Carrying Company, which is how she started her working life in 1947. On the inside the floor was  relayed after adding 10tons of ballast, new public access stairs, fitting of a generator & electrical system, service modules for the crew and new display material

The second phase was completed during 2014. This developed learning programmes for schools, organisations and the general public while she continues to visit events and communities along the full length of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

The project was supported by a Heritage Lottery Award with money from the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society, Friends of Kennet and the Historic Ships Register. In addition the annual running costs of £3900 per year have to be raised in order to enable Kennet continue her travels along the Canal.

The manning and maintenance is undertaken by volunteers of the Society, supported by the Friends of Kennet whose aim is to raise awareness and funds for the project. If you are interested in supporting the project either as a volunteer or by donating please contact us – Contact Information

We are also seeking Sponsors who would like to be associated with the project in a mutually beneficial way – click here for more information



  • 2010 – Pilot Project - The Society established the potential of Kennet by visiting events, festivals and schools from Blackburn to Goole. This, along with the use of experimental display units, enabled us to assess the future requirements to complete the Kennet Project and maintain the boat in the long term.
  • 2011 – Dry Docking of Kennet for Survey plus further remedial works to ensure the integrity of the hull and continuation of Kennet’s Insurance. Proposed start of the Conservation of Kennet and the refurbishing of the hold area along with the commissioning and installation of learning resources.
  • 2012 – Journey to one end of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal with stops along the way. This will provide opportunities to promote the working boat and canal heritage through links with charities, local authorities and schools.
  • 2013 – as 2012 but taking Kennet to the opposite end of the canal.
  • 2014 – Continue Kennet’s travels and review its use in order to enhance its facilities and broaden the spectrum of people taking advantage of Kennet.
  • 2015 – Enhancing Kennet’s facilities along with planning and preparation for 2016
  • 2016 – Year long celebrations to promote the 200th anniversary of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, including taking Kennet along the full length of the canal to emulate the original journey of a number of short boats traversing the whole canal.

See our Calendar for the current Kennet events.


The Project’s Aims

1. To use the boat as a learning resource to take the heritage of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, boats and its people to the varied local communities along its total length. We look towards a more creative approach to learning in the form of writing, storytelling, drama, canal based skills and interpretation flip charts involving and reflecting the local communities. This is implemented through a learning plan that has been designed in conjunction with Canal & River Trust. Additional training programmes will be created for teaching traditional crafts and skills to encourage a broad spectrum of organisations in the many local canal communities adjacent to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. This will include rope work, Brightwork and boatmanship.
2. To save the heritage short boat ‘Kennet’ through a sympathetic programme of preservation and conservation works and establish an ongoing maintenance programme while introducing new skills to a wide cross section of volunteers.
3. To encourage volunteers to become involved not only in the conservation works, but also the on-going maintenance of the boat. Once our works programme is complete, we will use a team of trained Society volunteers to move the boat to events, festivals, schools and colleges along the canal from Liverpool to Leeds creating opportunities for local communities / organisations to be involved.


in Partnership with