Boat Horse – Musical Theatre Show

Life on the cut in the days of the horse boats could be a daily slog of hard work, long days, ill health, crime and often grinding poverty. But out of this hardship was forged a close knit community of working people with their own unique identity, customs, art and dress. Before the canals, transporting goods was a long, slow, unreliable and sometimes dangerous business on roads that were little more than dirt tracks. The canals offered speed, reliability and efficiency. A horse could move one ton of cargo on land, but twenty to thirty tons on the canal. It opened up the country to more trade, successful industry and gave work to thousands of people. There were still working horse boats in the 1960’s.

“Jogging along, singing a song,
What’s round the next bend we’ll know before long,
My hand on the tiller I’ll whistle and sing,
Canals of Old England carry me on.”

Bonnet and Belt presents Boat Horse – a celebration of the heritage of the English canals in an exciting new small cast show in costume based on traditional 19th Century canal dress,  accompanied by melodeon, concertina and fiddle.

“A very well crafted performance with the traditions of the Canal life very much to the fore. Both informative and very entertaining and such enthusiasm for a bygone era of Old England at it’s most productive. ..Musically top class.” Romford Folk Club

Click Here to be taken to our promotional video (Boat Horse aka Canals of Old England)

“..capacity audience …stunning and original musical history of England’s canals.”      –  York House

Traditional and original songs – see Music Page – and poetry are woven together with real canal stories and history to tell the stories of the working people on the early canals and the incredible society they created.

Click Here for our upcoming shows

Canals of Old England

“Thanks for a great show at York House. I know how much research went into it to get the facts right , eg lanscips not castles.   How nice to have us actually sing the choruses, just like the old folk clubs. Very enjoyable.” – Brian and Rose – Boaters

Boat Horse is suitable for any space – theatres, schools, libraries, canalside venues, music stages, festivals, clubs, parties.

“Outstanding” – Dave Quayle – blogger


We are passionate about helping educate the current and next generation about the history, the heritage and importance of the canals. We run creative learning workshops for schools, where pupils can imaginatively experience life on a working narrow boat. See our Education page for information about our workshops and KS2 and KS3 Education packs.

Boat Horse– the Cast

Boat Horse (formerly Canals of Old England) is written and performed by husband and wife duo Phil and Denise Underwood The show features real canal stories and original songs and poetry by Phil with additional traditional songs and tunes.

If you are looking for a slightly larger stage production, please visit our Roses and Castles page for details of our exciting drama with music.

Contact Us

Contact us to learn more and/or discuss a booking – we would love to hear from you.

Water Themed Theatre