The views of the web master:-

The view from the Web master.....

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My name is Philip Duerden and for around eight years I was the general manager of OwnerShips, leaving in 2003. They were a narrow boat shared ownership company run by Allen Matthews. Allen died in 2010 and soon after OwnerShips, the company he founded, went in to liquidation with substantial debts. Thankfully NONE of the owners lost their boat shares but some did loose money with running costs already paid and those who have invested in other "side" projects. 

During my time at OwnerShips I got to see all that was great about boat shared ownership and on leaving what I did was to acquire the web domain of boatshare.co.uk because I thought one day it would be needed...and it certainly has come in handy!

Sadly since the demise of OwnerShips in 2010 and the 2008 collapse of Challenger, the other main player in narrow boat shared ownership in the UK, the expansion of UK narrow boat shared ownership has slowed dramatically, from around 10-12 boats a year coming on the water then to around 1 or 2 a year now (2024).

Couple this with the fact that some of the older boats are being sold off by their owners and actually the total number of boats in shared ownership is slowly declining, which is a great shame. One reason boats are sold off is the difficulty in selling shares in these perfectly serviceable but slightly less "glossy" boats, and this is one reason this web site was set up to address. Shared ownership in an older boat is certainly a cheap way of boating, and the good news is that on a new or old boat the beautiful scenery looks just the same.

Of course as well as the narrow boats in England on this web site you will also find shares for sale in shared craft in France. Most of these were once OwnerShips (Replica Dutch Barges) or Challenger (Steel Cruisers) boats and since these companies ceased trading I am not aware of any NEW shared ownership schemes in managed boats coming on stream but a small number of new private schemes may exist.

If you are somebody who regularly hires a boat then really you should consider shared ownership, as it makes incredible financial sense. You can take the cost of a one week hire and for that probably get about three weeks instead and, dare I say, on probably a better boat. 

Of course you have to outlay some cash to buy your share in the first place and yes you probably will NOT get it all back again should you sell it but as long as you can hang on to and use your share for more than say two years unless you have bought a very expensive share the chances are you are already in pocket over and above hiring for those six or so weeks you have used the boat even taking in to account your initial outlay for the boat.

Thankfully, whilst timeshare has a somewhat tarnished image, boat sharing on the UK inland waterways does not, even after the collapse of the two main players some years ago. It is reassuring that the only people to loose serious sums of money in the demise of those two firms were those that had invested in them in somewhat speculative schemes outside of their normal day to day activities. Yes, some owners did loose their boat fund contribution but NOBODY lost their share in their boat. 

Just about every share advertised on this site is in a boat I either know, or have advertised shares for sale in before, apart from the odd one. I personally vet every advert and if I do not like the sound of something written or even do not like the sound of the (new?) scheme will actually refuse to advertise the share(s) for sale. So, whilst it is still a case of "Caveat emptor" you can at least be reassured that I have had a look at the advert first and taken a view.

Things do sometimes go wrong with boats, they either break down or need major repairs at some point in their life, but when that cost is divided between a group of say 12 owners even something like a replacement engine costing thousands is, when divided by 12, hopefully not something that will need you having to go cap-in-hand to your bank manager about.

Shared ownership is really a very safe place to be, as long as you recognise that you are entering it to it to SAVE and not MAKE money. 

More Reading

I have written a page giving you tips if buying a share on what to look out for, what to ask, and how to use the search feature on this web site - you can find this page here.

The history of narrow boat shared ownership can be read here

A share of your own (2010 Waterways World following the collapse of Challenger and OwnerShips)

Share and Share Alike from 2007. A somewhat dated piece especially as the writer took a share with OwnerShips but worth a read to get a flavour of what to look for and ask. Part ONE and Part TWO are here.

A boat on the Midi concerns shared ownership in France. Part ONE and Part TWO are here.

A list of companies managing boats can be found here (with a few comments on each).

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