News and Customer Testimonials

May 2018: New Accommodation Facility open.

The new accommodation facility is now open and bookings have already been taken for Willow Wren Training customers. The facility has two self-catering guestrooms with double bed, shower rooms and kitchenette. See Nelson's Wharf for more information.

November 2017: Building work starts on the new Accommodation Block and Office.Foundations

With four months ahead of us, work starts on the new building. It will provide a new office, two self-contained, twin bed accommodation units and toilets accessible from the outside.

September 2017: Basin opens for business.Overhead Photo of Basin

After two years of excavation and repair, the basin is finally open for business and almost immediately has bookings for every berth. The one residential berth has been booked for months by a local business owner and the waiting list filled most of the remaining vacancies.

November 2016: Planning approval granted

Planning approval has been granted for erection of an accommodation block and new admin office. The plan is to offer overnight accommodation for customers from 2018.

Approval has also been given for residential mooring in the basin.

September 2016: Canal basin opens for boats.

Following months of excavation, see Nelson's Wharf Basin Restoration, Stage One of the basin was finally open ready for a weekend birthday boat gathering. Stage Two will be completed during 2017 and ready for permanent mooring.

October 2015: New Footbridge in place.Bridge being installed.

With very tight schedules, the new footbridge was placed over the entrance to the canal basin.

September 2015: Planning approval granted to reopen the derelict canal basin.

Permission has been granted by Rugby Borough Council to reopen the derelict canal basin and install a footbridge to carry a public footpath over the entrance.

The first 50m of the arm was re-watered in 2014 as part of the build of the new training centre but the remainder of the basin has been buried under thousands of tonnes of concrete and rubble after the Nelson's Cement Works was demolished in the mid-60's. Railway Bridge Over Entrance to Nelson's Canal BasinThere was always a bridge over the arm but it carried the L&NWR railway when the works was open. In more recent times a right of way was established over the arm by way of the rubble. When the rubble is removed we will need to install a new footbridge.

It is hoped to have the basin back in water by Spring 2016 ready for a limited number of moorings in the summer.


18th September 2014: HRH The Princess Royal conducts the official opening of the new training centre.

When Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal kindly agreed to carry out the official opening of the new training centre we dared not hope for such a wonderful day. The weather was superb and everyone had a great time including Her Royal Highness.

Princess Anne arrived by helicopter then was driven into the wharf area passing some of Stockton's residents and a very large group of children from Stockton Primary School who had gathered at the gate. The cheering from the children was wonderful and Her Royal Highness responded with several hand waves during her visit.

After being presented to the civic dignitaries, Her Royal Highness then had a tour of the training centre, wild flower meadow and inspected one of our training boats, Peggy. To our delight, she agreed to take the helm for a short trip to wind in the arm and back to the mooring. Chris gave instruction but she didn't really need it. Her steering was perfect.

Her Royal Highness then inspected steam narrowboat Hasty before returning to the centre to unveil the commemorative plaque and receive a posy from the daughter of one of our ground workers.

We need to thank so many people who made the day so successful and most of all we need to thank Her Royal Highness for taking time from her busy schedule to officially open the training centre. Thank You.

Thank you to Paul and Christine from Waterway Routes for a great piece of video footage.


Here are just some of the photos:

HRH The Princess Royal VisitHRH The Princess Royal VisitHRH The Princess Royal VisitHRH The Princess Royal Visit

April 2014: Great voyage on the tidal Thames

Thank you to Keith and Andy for inviting us to help them take their steam narrowboat Hasty from Limehouse to Teddington on the tidal Thames. From the early rise at 5.30am it was an excellent trip in excellent company. The bacon butties at Teddington were icing on the cake.

See the video:

March 2014: The new training centre is open.

The builders have done a great job and the building has now been handed over. We didn't have water, (now connected), but we have power so we could move everything from Rugby and start turning the building into a "Training Centre".

Training CentreWharf and Training Centre

January 2014: Nelson's Wharf opens for business.

Although the training centre is still being completed, the old canal arm is now in water and being used to moor the training boats Astra and Peggy. We normally hold off on boat handling training until March to get better weather and more daylight. However, now the car park and clean paths are in place we are able to run boat handling courses for urgent needs such as CRT staff and contractors.

If you are not in a hurry for your course we would suggest you book now for late March when it should be warmer and there is less chance of late cancellation due to ice but if your need is urgent then call us now to see if we have a course running.


Willow Wren Training has introduce many thousands of boaters to better and safer boating.

These are just some of the genuine comments taken from customer feedback forms

You ask for comments on your service. All I can say is "keep it up". The administration was impeccable, (thank you Izzie). The tuition was spot on, both in content and manner, (thank you Steve). The boat was a privilege to use (thank you both).

We were welcomed with a smile and made to feel welcome throughout the course. Chris was very friendly and approachable. I would quite happily recommend this training centre to other people.

The course was really good. Steve was very friendly and understanding of our aims and experience and pushed us just far enough that we learned new things and tried stuff that we didn't expect to be able to do. Thank you.

Andy has a really relaxed and unflappable attitude to teaching which made for a great days training and I learned a great deal.

Excellent, will recommend to anyone.

A very good one day course with a lot of hands on instruction. The instructor, (Steve), and his teaching regimen were excellent.

Very worthwhile for me as a newcomer to boating. I was made to feel quite relaxed and have gained a lot of confidence in using my boat. I would certainly recommend Willow Wren to anyone who is lacking proficiency on a narrowboat.

Thoroughly enjoyed the day. Did not expect to be on the boat "doing the job" - it was the best learning experience - above expectation.

Very enjoyable day. The trainer was calm, considerate and patient!

These comments have been reproduced exactly as they were written.