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This boating life

For many, living on the water represents freedom. But stricter rules may make it unaffordable

By Alice O'Keeffe   July 2011

“This would have been the parents’ bed,” says Tony Tibbins, pulling down a cupboard door and laying it flat to create a platform. “A teenager would have slept here”—he gestures to a small wooden bench—“and the baby in a drawer under the counter.”

The cabin of Kildare, a 1913 narrowboat painstakingly restored by the Black Country Living Museum where Tony volunteers, is no bigger than fingertip to fingertip in any direction. It would originally have accommodated the whole family of a boat haulier.

I met Tony in late May, at the Crick Boat Show and Waterways Festival, where more than…

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