Enabling disabled people to enjoy boat trips along the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal

A brand new wheelchair-accessible ‘Wheelyboat’ has been launched in North Newton, Bridgwater, Somerset.

The vessel has been specially designed to provide disabled people with hassle-free and independent access to waterborne activities,

The new Wheelyboat, launched at the Maunsel Lock Canal Centre

and Tea Shop, North Newton, is enabling disabled adults and children to participate in boat trips along the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal.

It has been supplied through Countryside Mobility South West, a scheme that is working to make the region a more ‘accessible’ visitor destination by improving access to the countryside for people with limited mobility.

The scheme has been supported with a grant from Natural England as part of its Access to Nature programme, funded from the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme.

Additional funds were generously provided by Maunsel Canal Centre, Nineveh Charitable Trust, Awards for All, Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, Frognal Trust, Norman Family Charitable Trust, Good Neighbours Trust, Arundel & District Rotary Club and Suzuki GB.

About the boat
 
The Mk III Wheelyboat was designed and developed by The Wheelyboat Trust, a small national charity dedicated to providing disabled people with access to waterborne activities.

At 5.3m long it is a versatile craft with a carrying capacity of eight people including wheelchairs.

It is fitted with a drive-from-wheelchair console enabling people even with quite severe impairments to experience the thrill of driving the boat themselves.

As well as supplying the Wheelyboat, The Wheelyboat Trust helped raise the funds to build and equip it.
 
Chris Whitcombe, Maunsel Canal Centre owner said: ‘We are really pleased to now have the Wheelyboat based here at Maunsel Lock and are very much looking forward to enabling more people to access and enjoy the wonderful canal and the surrounding environment.’

The Maunsel Lock Canal Centre and Tea Shop is run by Chris and Val Whitcombe, who also have a boat called ‘Maunsel Lady’, offering canal trips to people of all ages.