I went to the Birmingham Floating Market last weekend and all of the sunshine and colourful bunting made the life of a roving trader look quite idyllic. The RovingCanal Traders Association organises floating markets throughout the summer and if you've never been to such an event it’s surprising how many very different individual businesses there are.

Their website says that members of the RCTA sell a diverse range of products including coal and diesel, painted canal ware, crafts, art, food and drink, jewellery, herbs, fenders, and souvenirs. At a London floating market a few years ago I saw a book selling boat, Frocks a Float - selling Vintage Clothes, Chapeau Bateau - selling hats, The Sandwich Barge, Vareska Slovakian Kitchen, and Rawlings Cakes. In Birmingham this weekend I browsed more than 20 trade boats selling books, jewellery handicrafts and gifts, fenders and ropes, plants and seeds, woolly hats and scarves, decorative plates, art prints, photographs, and antiques.

If you’ve ever dreamed of travelling the waterways and earning a living while you do it, here are three of the more unusual floating businesses I have seen.

The Therapy Boat

The Therapy Boat offers NLP treatment for hayfever relief. Louise Yeoman, has been a qualified nurse for nearly 20 years and has a wealth of health and well-being expertise. She is qualified in massage, reflexology, Indian head massage, nutritional medicine and is a certified practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The Therapy Boat travels in and around Hertfordshire and you can find Louise’s current location on her website.

The Happy Potter

Heidi Siggers is a self-employed artist working from and living in her restored narrow boat on the Grand Union Canal with her partner and their two young children.

After graduating university with a degree in Arts and Craft she lived in Spain for two years making commissioned pieces of ceramic art and paintings for private individuals, shops, hotels and restaurants. She originally specialised in ceramics although today her work now also includes mixed media in the form of recycled paper, cloth, damaged books, painting, collage and drawing.

There are beautiful pictures of her work on her website The Happy Potter. Heidi sells art and crafts from her boat and you can find out her latest location on her Facebook page The Happy Potter.

Online Marketing

Jeanette Freynet is a journalist, photographer and website manager, working from home on a narrowboat. She is the creator and manager of the community website and social media accounts for the villages Raphèle and Moulès in southern France. Having recently relocated from France back to England she currently has the availability to take on one more client. She offers web design, social media marketing and content writing; all of which she can supply in French,English – or both!

If an online business appeals to you, you may like to read our article How to Get Online on the Cut.


If you’d like to live and work on the canals then maybe you could become a canal boat broker. Working with Boatshed you will have access to training and support, marketing materials and the ground breaking Boatshed™System. Find out more at BoatshedBusiness.com

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