The Mary Sunley Canal Boat Trust

The Mary Sunley Canal Boat Trust is a charity registered with the Charity Commission (Charity Number 1044980). The objects of the Charity are to provide or assist in the provision of facilities, in the interests of social welfare for recreation or other leisure-time occupation of persons who have need of such facilities by reason of their youth, age, infirmity or disablement, poverty or social and economic circumstances with the object of improving their conditions of life.

We achieve our objects by taking groups of people out for trips on the Macclesfield Canal in a specially adapted 62ft Canal Boat.

We cover the costs of running the charity by charging a fee for each trip. Our fund raising comprises store collections, attending a local show, some volunteer events as well as taking donations when they are offered.

The Mary Sunley 2

Our boat, named “Mary Sunley 2”, is licensed to carry up to 12 passengers and 4 crew. Of the 12 passengers up to 4 can be in wheelchairs. We have a lift to lower wheelchairs and people with poor mobility in and out of the cabin. The toilet on board is suitable for wheelchairs and the boat is centrally heated. There is a galley with equipment for providing hot drinks and heating refreshments in a microwave.

The first boat, “Mary Sunley” was launched in 1980 and served the charity for 33 years. She was named after the wife of our first benefactor, Bernard Sunley who spent his fortune setting up a charitable trust. By 2010 this boat was showing its age so the Trust raised £120,000 in two years to buy the new boat we have today.

Typical Trip

A typical trip takes 4 hours and involves cruising from our home mooring at Lord Vernon’s Wharf, Higher Poynton, SK12 1TH along the Macclesfield Canal tow path to Marple and back. There are no locks or tunnels on this stretch of the canal. It's a particularly scenic stretch of canal with wide views towards Manchester or up towards the Lyme Park Estate. There is plenty to see along the way including other boats, interesting reminders of our industrial heritage as well as much wildlife. During a trip passengers are allowed onto the foredeck where they can sit to take in the sun and the views.

At the turning point, groups often purchase Fish ‘n’ Chips from a conveniently located shop to eat on the return journey. Alternatively, many groups bring their own picnics.

Our Team

The charity is run exclusively by volunteers. On a trip the crew comprises a skipper, a mate and a No.3. The skipper is trained and examined by an external, independent training organisation so has an appropriate qualification. The mate has been trained and assessed by the charity and is deemed capable of taking over from the skipper in emergencies. The No.3 usually has some boating experience and are either in training or have elected to act as a helper with no responsibility.


Our Clients

We aim to run about 100 trips per annum between April and October. About half our client groups come from residential homes though we also take groups of young people with disabilities, church and fellowship groups and many groups sponsored by Rotary or Lions organisations. Each group should include sufficient carers to look after and be responsible for their passengers.