Popular narrowboat the Judith Mary sets sail from Whaley Bridge again

It’s been a difficult year but the popular Whaley Bridge narrow boat the Judith Mary is back in action after 16 months of being unable to sail due to covid restrictions.

By Lucy Ball
Friday, 6th August 2021, 11:00 am

As reported in the Buxton Advertiser, the family owned boat was almost sold last year as the owners struggled to survive during lockdown.

Thankfully they managed to secure its future and the Judith Mary is now welcoming guests for cream tea cruises along the canal in Whaley Bridge once again.

Suzy Kelsall, 51, who organises the trips said: “The past year has been terrible. We were so close to having to say goodbye to the boat which has been part of the family for years.

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Allen and Suzy Kelsall on board the Judith Mary

"It was tough, we couldn’t operate any of our tours and we had no money coming in.

"But we have turned a corner and finally welcomed people back on board our narrow boat which is amazing.”

Suzy’s dad, Allen who is 74, worked on the Judith Mary I as a chef and bought her and its subsequent sister the Judith Mary II in 1988, and has been an active member of the two hour trips along the canal for decades.

Since then the Judith Mary I has been sold on but the second boat remains part of the family business.

Skipper Pete Croucher and Suzy Kelsall on board the Judith Mary

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Suzy, who lives in Whaley Bridge, said: “We both love what we do which is why we are so pleased to get back in the water.

"We are only 7ft wide so haven’t been able to run any trips as there was no way we could socially distance people.

"We managed to do takeaways in the summer last year and mince pies and mulled wine in the winter but it hasn’t been the same.

“We made it work but we are one of the lucky tourist businesses who have survived but there are sadly many who have not.”

The boat trips rely heavily on coach trips which were also halted during the last year.

"Our target demographic is the older people out on holidays so the pandemic would have hit them very hard with self isolating and not seeing friends and family.

"It’s been great to see people relaxing and catching up and having a good time again.

“We’v already had people coming from Norfolk to take a ride with us again which is amazing,” Suzy added.

To book a trip on the Judith Mary call Suzy on 07540 895615.

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