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The home of friendly and professional inland water training in the North West.

The training centre is based at Marple, on the edge of the Peak District adjacent to the Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals. Boat training is carried out on a dedicated 48ft narrowboat and the shore-based elements in our fully equipped training room. Our courses are supported by personalised work folders, which are a useful document for future reference. Training can be undertaken on client’s vessels & premises provided that appropriate facilities are available.


Top Lock Training was established in 1998 by Malcolm and Alison Allcard as part of their canal-based marina operation at the junction of the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals at Marple, a business they started in 1976. Over the years they have been involved in boat maintenance, boat building, passenger boat operation and general marina services.


Top Lock Trainingis dedicated to friendly and professional inland waters training; Malcolm is the Principal with Alison keeping the operation on track with her administrative skills; their colleague, Bob Woodgate, assists with the training.

Malcolm and Bob, between them, have over 100 years of boating experience; they both come from a mechanical & electrical engineering background and are qualified RYA Inland Waters Helmsman Instructors. Bob holds a NCBA Certificate in Community Boat Management and has had a long career in the Royal Navy. Malcolm is also qualified to deliver the National Community Boat Association training, and is approved by the MCA to deliver Fire & Water safety training, he also holds a Tier 1 Level 1 Boatmaster Licence.

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These are the sort of questions that potential students almost always ask when they make their initial enquiry. The RYA has developed its inland waters course, on the lines of all its other well proven boating courses, and the course workbook was written by a well established canal based trainer. The course is very much 'hands-on' with students handling the boat throughout, giving students plenty of opportunity to develop skills from their own starting point, allowing the novice to gain confidence and the more experienced to fine tune their abilities. All aspects of inland boating are covered, from fire extinguishers to knots and locking, to care for the environment, not to mention the technical bits like pivot points and prop wash It is our view that a competent crew will obtain the best value from their investment of time and money in their boating, a view now shared by many of our past students.


Anne Kelly spends a wet day with Top Lock Training on the Macclesfield Canal

The Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Certificate may sound a bit of a mouthful, but these one or two day courses are both useful and fun, with the whole accent on teaching you practical boat-handling and waterway techniques. We tried out a narrowboat course, then one on a river cruiser, necessary if you intend cruising European waterways boat may wish to acquire some prior experience. Top Lock Training offer narrowboat courses, either from their base at Marple in Cheshire, at the junction of the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals, or on your own boat if based locally. approved instructor for three years. Although the course assumes that student has no experience, it can also be beneficial for more experienced boaters. They have two boats they can use, a purpose-built 55ft narrowboat, or a 33ft boat, and will offer you either, depending on your wishes. It is important to be warm, dry and comfortable, as you are going to be spending many hours at the helm.


Our MCA Boatmaster Course prepares skippers for the MCA Boatmaster Grade 3 Examination. This course is designed to prepare those wishing to acquire a Maritime and Coastguard Agency Top Lock Training will give tuition to candidates on the subjects contained in part ‘B’ (knowledge) of the MCA syllabus in the ‘classroom’, Three days, consisting of two days preparation and one day MCA examination; these days can be run either consecutively or individually, by arrangement.