Stone is already known for its regular land-based markets as well as its canal side location.
Town councillor Steve Walley has called for a floating market to be considered as part of the area’s 2023 events. He put forward the idea at this month’s town council meeting after seeing a similar event at the Norbury Canal Festival.
He said: “One of the highlights was the floating market, with barges selling local produce and handicrafts. There were families and people of all ages and it was a really good event.
“I had a chat with the coordinator of the Roving Canal Traders Association (RTCA) and she expressed an interest in possibly holding one of these events at the canalside. One of the key aims of the RCTA is to hold waterside events that provide opportunities for roving canal traders.
“The RCTA require the blessing of town/parish councils before they will enter into any formal discussions or carry out site visits to assess the practicalities of holding an event. Holding a floating market at Stone canalside would be a great way to make more of the town’s canal heritage, encourage more local residents to get onto the canal and attract new visitors to the town.”
Fellow councillors backed the idea of a floating market visiting Stone and agreed to explore the possibility. But there were questions about where the event could be held if so many boats were to be moored in one place along the canal.
Councillor Tom Kelt said: “We had a floating market before and I think it was held north of the Newcastle Road crossing. I would question whether it would have to be held out of town as it is rather a busy area outside the Trent Clinic.
Councillor Andrew Best said: “I think it is a great idea. I would just worry about the space it would take up with the canal hire place – they would need enough space to carry on with their business.”
Councillor Ken Argyle said: “I know what the problems are as I have a boat and Stone Town and Norbury Junction are different venues; they carry different boatage. Norbury Junction has very little through boats, that’s why they can have a floating market of 20 to 30 boats.
“It would be physically impossible to have that in Stone itself; by the old chandlery all those moorings are private all the way down to the Star Lock. Past the Star Lock there are restricted moorings for passing people going through the town.
“At any one time Stone can have 30 to 40 boats going through on a Saturday, possibly more. You would have to have moorings for the market almost at Aston, that’s the only clear area of mooring available.”
Councillor Jonathan Powell said: “I have personal experience of the events at Norbury Junction – I ran the pub there for two years. It gets a lot of traffic that goes up and down the Shropshire Union Canal and they managed it quite successfully.
“Some narrowboats had to moor quite far from the pub but it went very well. I have no doubt Stone can organise and promote a very successful event around the canal – the only caveat is they talk to the hire company.”