A POPULAR barge which operates on Glasgow’s Forth and Clyde Canal has launched a crowdfunder in order to stay afloat.

Sean McNamara and his partner Ania who operate Navvie’s Barge started the appeal on Wednesday. After a combination of canal closures and a lack of coronavirus relief funding, the financial situation has left them with an uncertain future.

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Launched in 2018, it is run as a worker’s co-operative which means the people who work on it, own the barge.

Sean said: “The pandemic has certainly made things harder, but there’s quite a bit of regeneration going on on the canal in the north of Glasgow.

"In the three years we’ve been operating, we’ve not had a full year where we can actually use the canal because of the construction of bridges or renovations. We’ve really not been able to properly have a full season.”

Glasgow Times:

The barge has not been able to operate fully since September 2019 due to closures as a result of the Stockingfield Bridge project

Sean added: “Covid has just compounded that problem and massively put us back.”

Sean and Ania have made the barge a part of the community and any profits made from boat trips goes back into the local area.

When covid-19 restrictions ease, Navvies Barge is hoping to offer space on the boat to local charities and community groups to use for meetings or activities.

In winter 2019, they held a “Santa’s Barge” event where they decorated the boat and local children could come to meet Santa. They also donated books and other goods to the Glasgow Baby Bank.

He said: “It was incredible how many people had never seen a boat moving along the canal. From our own perspective, it’s been really good for mental health, that sense of peacefulness and tranquility as you move along.”

With assistance from the crowdfunder, Sean hopes to be back up and running again by this summer, depending on restrictions. He believes “it would be a real shame” if this wasn’t able to happen.

He said: “I think our ambition towards being a business that really works with local groups, taking people out, it would leave quite a void in the community. The canal should be there for people to use and to navigate and cruise along. Getting out and being out on the boat is a completely different way to do it.

“There’s a sense of pride in your local area. You can walk down Maryhill Road and forget that metres away there is a Kingfisher who lives there. When you’re cruising along the canal, you really become a part of that and the sense of being in North Glasgow and being almost in a corridor of nature that runs through a city is incredible. It would be a real shame if the business wasn’t about and that opportunity was taken away from people.”

Glasgow Times:

The barge has already had an outpouring of support from the community.

Sean added: “The support we have already had has been quite incredible and our thanks go to everyone who has already been so great in helping us.”

Those wishing to donate to the crowdfunder can do so here.