Baked on Board
The story so far
After holidaying on narrow boats for many years, Paul Partridge and his then partner started to seriously think about giving up full time jobs, buying a boat and leaving behind their beloved life in Cornwall to live and work on a narrow boat full time on the Shropshire Union Canal.
After viewing several boats, they settled on “Forget me Not”, a 53 foot narrow boat built in 2000. Whilst the search for a boat was happening, lots of research was also going on as, by then, the seemingly crazy idea of a pizza oven on a narrow boat had been born!
Combining the boat and the half-ton oven wasn’t a task for the faint hearted. Luckily local boatyard Chas Hardern Boats in Beeston were prepared to tackle the task. The boat had been purchased in January 2018 at Crick, Northamptonshire and the two week cruise to Beeston was underway.
By May of 2018 the newly named “Baked on Board” was born and very quickly became locally known as ‘The Pizza Boat’. During that first summer, they attended several canal side festivals, floating markets, etc, as well running a regular route on their now familiar stretch of ‘The Shroppie’. This was met with a great response from boaters, walkers, villagers and festival-goers alike. “This was when we really realised that we weren’t completely mad and that this could really work!” said Paul.
The second summer season involved many, many miles of travels as Baked on Board spent 6 months cruising further afield to events in other areas. This included travelling to Birmingham, the Black Country, Bollington, Macclesfield, Northwich, Droitwich, Llangollen to name but a few; also doing ‘pop up’ events at local marinas.
During the winter months, Paul would work in a local café to supplement his income, always planning the next summer and where the Pizza Boat would go next.
Sadly, in March 2020, Covid-19 struck and one by one all planned events were cancelled. Not disheartened, Paul decided to once again look at opening up the pizza business and returning to a local route.
The Canal and River Trust were unable to offer any specific guidelines for traders with regarding to lockdown restrictions, so it was deemed that Baked on Board was a take-away. Paul would be working from home, and travelling to work was permitted. The green light was on for summer 2020.
During that summer, a new and extended route was formulated taking in Waverton, Beeston, Bunbury, Barbridge, Nantwich and Audlem.
Business boomed, with Paul and his team open 4 nights per week. Utilising a ‘time slot’ booking system had been a revelation and was clearly the way forward for future years. “2020 was the oddest of years, yet from a business point of view, our best yet.” Paul reflects.
Business had been so successful that ‘The Pizza Boat’ now operates all year round, running a shortened route in winter on Thurdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Although, the icy weather in early January 2021 did prove slightly problematic, with travel impossible due to thick ice on the marina and on canal itself.
Baked on Board is now very much established and going from strength to strength each year. As well as take-away, they also offer private catering at canal side properties and a ‘half baked’ version of their pizzas for customers to take home and finish in their own oven.
Wood fired, stone baked pizza, cooked on a narrow boat wasn’t such a crazy idea after all!
You can find the Pizza Boat here on Facebook.