roving canal traders

The Roving Canal Traders Association is the collective voice of roving canal traders. It aims to give advice to old, new & would-be traders, and holds frequent events giving increased opportunities to all floating traders.

A different floating trader - every one a 'character of the cut' - will be presented in each issue of this magazine.

For more information on the RCTA, or to join, please see Website

lorraine stevenson - the mad hatter

I first started boating in 2003 when I sold my house for a killing, bought my first boat and went boating as a single handed woman. For four years I cruised the network of canals, every week in a different place with different people. It was a wonderful life. I did all the locks myself and went from one end of the country to the other. I had loads of adventures, but especially remember getting stuck in the floods on the River Thames in 2007. I was there for two weeks, along with a friend on their boat, and I kissed the ground at Oxford when I eventually got on to dry land!


It was around this time that I realised my bank balance was depleted and I needed to get back to home turf and work for a living. I don't regret a single moment, and the experience I gained from the canals you just could not buy.

Many years on, I got married to Mark, sold my boat, and now we both live on our boat The Mad Hatter.


So how did my crocheting begin?

It all started when we were moored at Sawley Marina back in 2012. One of my friends, Lucy, showed me how to crochet a copy of my first hat. It was lovingly called my Ermintrude hat (off the Magic Roundabout). It took me around two years to perfect the hats, and as soon as I finished one it was purchased - so I never got to keep them long. A few more years went by, and I started to put millinery wire in the brims, and my creativity went from strength to strength.


I applied for my roving traders licence in 2016 to allow me to sell my hats, bags, bracelets and other crochet items. Everything is made on our boat - I have a wonderful workshop that my husband built for me on the towpath.

Mark and I now travel the waterways system together. I sell my hats, while hubby goes fixing boats. It's still a wonderful life, and one which we would never change.


So HATS OFF to all my lovely customers for supporting me on our travels!

The mad hatter { Lorraine Stevenson }


Lorraine Stevenson, trading as The Mad Hatter, has been a member of the Roving Traders Association since 2016. She creates imaginative and quirky hats for any occasion. They are very distinctive and are easily spotted amongst the waterways community and festival goers.


Follow The Mad Hatter on Facebook to find out where she is trading, or contact her if you would like a bespoke hat uniquely created especially for you.


brian greaves - the blacksmith's craft

brian-greaves-roof-opt.jpg Brian & Jane's narrowboat is warm and welcoming compared to the chilly weather outside, smoke curling from its chimney, and frost sparkling on the ground.

It's an unusual life, to say the least, that began when the couple borrowed a canal boat from one of Jane's colleagues for their honeymoon. They fell in love with the canal life and it wasn't long before they were living on the water more permanently.

Brian did his apprenticeship as an engineer in Skipton in Yorkshire, then went on courses to learn blacksmithing - something that would give his creativity a freer rein.

Brian and Jane were already living on board narrowboat
Emily, when Brian started to build tugboat 'Bronte'. It took
him over three years. Bronte has an engine in the aft section
to push the engine-less narrowboat Emily along.

It also has a fully working smithy's forge.


This year marks their 30th year living on board Emily. In that   time they have had two children, Lewis 26 and Frances 24,   who spent their lives aboard until leaving for university.

Jane & Brian have been roving canal traders for the last 6   years, travelling the whole canal system at a gentle pace,   Brian  producing a large range of hand forged iron work   beautifully combining form and function. His work is mainly   self designed, with a small range of traditional designs.

Brian also undertakes commissions to your own design or can design for you.

brian greaves

Brian Greaves has a fully operational forge on his narrowboat tug 'Bronte'. His wonderful pieces of ironwork, from pokers to delightful sculptures, are created on board, and it is always a special privilege to be able to watch him at work.
You can find out where he is by following him on Facebook "the Blacksmith's craft"

Call:  07968 019 203  Follow: Facebook    Visit: Website Link