Cycle Chain’s instantly recognisable bike repair, sales and hire narrowboat Carina (pictured) may have to batten down the hatches and close up shop – unless new investment can be found to enable its operations to continue.
Situated below Sea Life Centre at Birmingham’s bustling Brindleyplace, Carina, a historic and decorative 72’ narrowboat “butty” built for towing by the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company in 1935, was purchased from the Canal & River Trust, raised from the depths with help from Travel West Midlands in 2012 by not-for-profit organisation Cycle Chain Ltd and fully refitted as a multi-purpose workshop facility. Students from various colleges have been taken on board to learn bike mechanics and life skills from trained staff and volunteers, who themselves have benefited from acquiring the expertise essential for running the business.
Recent financial constraints have suspended teaching, but Carina still carries out a brisk trade, offering a mix of regulars, passing customer and adventurous out-of-towners reasonably priced bike repairs,and sales.
Hourly or daily cycle hire, guided tours and led rides may also run from Carina, which is perfectly placed to exploit both the extensive Birmingham canal network, the city centre, and outlying districts.
The narrowboat’s mooring spot across the canal from the Indoor Arena is right In the heart of Birmingham,and Brindleyplace’s management provides much-appreciated on-site support. Carina offers great potential for development as a unique and distinctive cycling hub offering eco-friendly transport options for Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Cycle Chain, founded in 2002, is keen to secure financial and business support to ensure its survival as a social enterprise run by committed and experienced volunteers, and there is the capacity to reinstate on-board teaching immediately.
Although currently a paying its way by trading only two/three days a week, with a small committed group of volunteers, Carina may need to be offered for sale, to clear some past deficits.
Cycle Chain Ltd, a Company Limited by Guarantee is next to Sea Life, B1 2HL, (entrance to Oozells St Canal Loop) and has a Facebook page.