Meet the people behind the boats
The Kennet Horse Boat Company is a small, family-run business that operates traditional canal barges for public boat trips and private charters.
The company was established in 1970 and has been run by the Butler family since 1980. The business is now owned and run hands-on by the second generation of the family, Stephen Butler and his wife Charlotte, who took over from Stephen’s parents, Bob and Jenny, in 2004.
We are working hard to keep the horse-drawn barge tradition alive, and on every trip with us, you can be assured of a friendly welcome and attentive professional service from Charlotte, Steve and our helpful staff. We all love our horses and thoroughly enjoy enabling our customers to experience the magic of drifting sedately along the Kennet and Avon canal in our horse-drawn barge, or exploring the canal in our self-drive motor barge.
Customers frequently come to us via recommendations or as repeat business, and we attract visitors from all over the UK, as well as from further afield, such as Australia, Norway, South Africa and New York.
Our classic barges
Reflecting the role of the barge in England's heritage, our barges are painted in the traditional ‘roses and castles’ decorative style, which became fashionable in the mid-1800s. They all have full weather protection, so the show goes on even when it rains.
Our horse-drawn barge is a wide-beam passenger trip boat, purpose built in 1976. She operates from Kintbury and is 20.4m (67ft) long by 3m (10ft) wide. Powered solely by the 1hp towing action of the horse, she carries a maximum of 53 to 64 passengers, depending on the type of trip.
Based at Kintbury, our self-steer narrow boat, Cygnet, is available almost all year round for self-drive day-hire. It is a traditionally styled 9m (30ft) boat built to a very high specification, offering maximum comfort and safety for up to eight people. Everyone gets a great view, the main passenger area can be opened up to enjoy the fresh air, and there is a toilet on board for your comfort.
Adults and children alike adore our cross-Shire horses, Monty and Drummer, who are the pride and symbol of our business.
Monty ‘The Star’ a Welsh Cob Shire Cross joined us in 2012. Now fully grown, he has matured into a great worker. He is our senior horse and a pleasure to work with.
Our new arrival in 2016 is a young Clydesdale Cobb Cross. He has shown a good working temperament during his ‘on the job’ training.