London boaters hold protest fair on new 'no mooring zone'

23 May 2023

The London boaters Spring Fayre drew a crowd of nearly a thousand people in a powerful show of support and solidarity against the Canal and River Trust’s (CRT) imposition of a series of new 'no mooring zones'.

The Spring Fayre - organised by the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) - drew close to a thousand boaters, took place on Sunday 14th May and was held in Hackney, east London, on one of the ‘no mooring zones’ which have been in operation since last year.

Marcus Trower, NBTA London branch secretary and one of the event’s organisers said:

“This event perfectly encapsulated why itinerant boaters will never back down in the face of CRT’s attempts to bully us off the waterways. Hundreds of people have come out together today because of the joy, community and life that boaters bring to the water. We’ve had huge numbers of locals expressing horror at the idea that the CRT wants to erase us from these areas, with many non-boaters signing up to get involved in ongoing campaigns.”

Marcus Trower © Alessandro Borelli
Marcus Trower © Alessandro Borelli

“We’ve had boaters from all across the UK showing up to share memories and experiences of time spent on the River Lea, building our community even further,” continued Marcus Trower. “We’ve had dedicated NBTA activists contributing their time, effort, skills and creativity to making the day a resounding success, and laying the groundwork for future events. All of this goes to show that the boater community and our allies will stay strong against the CRTs boat cull - not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of the local communities who stand in solidarity with us to celebrate and defend life on the water.”


The day of the Fayre saw the towpath lined with an array of boats, stalls and stages where the boater community celebrated their life on the water with music, food, speeches and information on the campaign provided by a whole team of NBTA activists.

The event, which was one of the largest ever organised by the NBTA, saw speeches from boater activists about the ongoing campaigns to defend the rights of itinerant boaters, alongside speeches in solidarity from Unite, Travellers Pride and Acorn, and a whole host of performances from both boater and land-based musicians. The NBTA raised both funds for and awareness of their campaigns with generous donations from the public, and a flood of sign-ups to NBTA communications.

Traveller Pride founder member Tyler Hatwell, said; “We've had a great time meeting boaters today. It's important to build these links between the various travelling groups; coming together to ensure we can all live how we want is fundamental. We're proud to represent Traveller Pride at this great event.”

Tyler Hatwell with the Traveller Pride stall © Mark
Tyler Hatwell with the Traveller Pride stall © Mark

Initially CRT had plans to get rid of 550 mooring spaces along the River Lea where people can moor for up to 14 days at a time, say the NBTA. Following the resolve and resistance of the boating community through a series of campaigns, events and challenges to the policy, CRT relented on the full threatened 550 mooring spaces, but are continuing to try and eliminate 295 mooring spaces, they add. CRT dispute these figures.

NBTA press release/TT News

(Lead photo: (c) Alessandro Borelli)