The Pirate Castle's been flying the flag for opportunity and adventure on central London's waterways since 1966.
From our fully-accessible base on the Regent's Canal in the heart of Camden Town, our amazing community boating charity promotes learning, life chances and healthy living through a raft of paddlesport (kayaking, canoeing and bell-boating), canal boating, training and volunteer initiatives. We strive to tackle disadvantage, challenge exclusion and support the more vulnerable members of our community through all that we do.
We provide free and affordable activities for local kids, young adults, elders and SEND (special needs and disability) groups of all ages. We also work with specialist and mainstream schools, Pupil Referral Units, local youth / voluntary groups and support agencies to broaden the health, wellbeing and enrichment opportunities available to our local community and beyond.
Through our combined commitment to affordability, inclusivity and opening up the waterway for all to enjoy, The Pirate Castle is a truly irreplaceable community asset.
Our story is one of survival and revival. After years of dedicated hard work our future was looking bright before Covid hit. Along with supporting more people and opening up new initiatives to benefit wider groups, we'd become more financially self-reliant, covering over 70% of our project and operating costs through hire income. This money is crucial to keeping our building and boat fleet operational and fit-for-purpose, paying wages and cross-subsidising our free and affordable projects for local kids, disability groups and communities most in need.
Covid-19 slashed our income by almost £100,000 last year - almost half of our yearly costs. With income likely to take significant time to recover to pre-Covid levels (particularly hall hire, our main income source), we’re facing the biggest challenge of our 54-year history. We’re doing all we can to cut costs and keep afloat but WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP to make it through. PLEASE THROW US A LIFELINE!
Covid-19 continues to make life harder for everybody. Coping with more lockdowns and restrictions, isolation from family, friends and support networks, health or financial worries and uncertainty for the future are challenges we all face - but for our youth and those already struggling due to hardship, disability, mental or physical health issues or turbulent home lives, the pandemic's dealing particularly cruel blows.
We've been committed to improving our community's health, wellbeing and life chances since 1966. Demand for our services has surged since the pandemic and our youth activities continue to be over-subscribed. Heartbreakingly, lockdown closures and limitations on numbers when we've been able to re-open have made it impossible to meet this demand - with devastating impact on our service users and income potential.
Safeguarding trusted, supportive community facilities and assuring access to purposeful, life-enriching sport, recreation and training opportunities are vital to helping our youth and wider community keep healthy and connected, stay positive and bounce back from Covid's unprecedented impact on their lives.
The need for The Pirate Castle has never been greater. We're determined to survive this crisis and continue being a safe, stimulating and supportive destination where local kids and people of all backgrounds and abilities can let off steam, feel better about themselves and learn new skills on the waterway.
- £30 funds a new buoyancy aid or essential safety kit for youth, disability and community paddlesport sessions
- £100 funds a British Canoeing paddlesport instructor to run a day's activities for up to 8 kids. Larger groups need 3 - 4 instructors each day!
- £250 funds a 3-hour cruise on our accessible canal boat for SEND groups, families in hardship or vulnerable local residents
- £400 funds accredited canal boat skipper or crew training & mentoring for one of our amazing volunteers
- £500 funds biodegradable sanitiser to keep our boat fleet, equipment and venue Covid-secure for 1 month
- £1,700 funds essential annual safety checks, maintenance, licensing, insurance & running costs for one of our canal boats
- £7,800 funds a month's core running costs - retaining key staff and keeping our venue operational are vital to our Charity's survival!
Find out more about our amazing charity on our website, or read on...
All of our boat trips are voyages of opportunity, discovery and learning. A founding member and affiliated training provider for the National Community Boats Association, we offer accredited boat management and crew courses for service users, volunteers and the wider community. The majority of our boat trips are run by our amazing team of volunteer skippers and crew, all of whom are trained in-house by our Boat Manager.
Our 'Camden Community Cruises' initiative enables passengers of all abilities to get involved with the practicalities of boating. ‘Black Pearl’, our traditional narrowboat, is perfect for cruises and boat handling training, whilst ‘Pirate Prince’, our purpose-built, fully accessible wide-beam opens up the canal to special needs and disability groups. Equipped with a state-of-the-art joystick control and hydraulic steering platform, we're proud that ‘Pirate Prince’ is the only canal boat in central London that can be operated by wheelchair users and people with severe mobility restrictions.
As the only British Canoeing-affiliated club in Camden, we provide unique opportunities for local people to go paddling, develop skills and gain accreditations in a safe, supportive and stimulating environment. Our paddlesport projects include Holiday Schemes for local kids, term-time after school and weekend 'Pirate Club' youth sessions, ‘Upperdeckers’ sessions for over 50s and activities for young adults and families. We also provide low-cost services for visiting schools, youth and community groups - along with free activities for those most in need.
We rely on our incredible volunteer crew to help run our community canal boating and paddlesport projects and ensure that our service users are safe, supported and get the most out of their time with us. As a British Canoeing-affiliated club and National Community Boats Association training centre we offer a range of volunteering initiatives, formal accreditation and coaching / mentoring pathways for ages 14+, enabling people from all walks of life to get involved, learn new skills and help others enjoy the unique benefits of boating and being on the waterway.
Our six Trustees also volunteer their time to oversee strategy, finance and governance to keep The Pirate Castle ship shape.
Built in 1977 to replace our original club-house barge, our iconic castle home also provides fully-accessible, affordable community spaces overlooking the canal. These are used by a diverse range of community and support groups, local residents and businesses for projects and events, therapy, training and activity sessions, celebration events, conferences, team building days – and more.