About Us

Who are we?

We are a small independent family & friends run café specialising in local & ethical produce, aboard our historic narrowboat Verbena. Located in the heart of the Maidstone River Park and in the centre of town on the beautiful River Medway. Inside we have a full kitchen offering a wide range of sweet and savoury options, with fresh lunches cooked to order and a huge selection of mouth-watering, traditional and unusual cakes, including a good choice of vegan and gluten/dairy free options. In addition to the 52 riverside garden seats, aboard you will find further Jack and Jill Seating, cosy sofa corner and our huge opening window offering a front row view of river traffic: swans & their cygnets, cormorants, ducks, geese & goslings, pike, roach, river boats and even amphicars…

Our History

The Old Boat Café is set aboard historic narrowboat Verbena. The Fellows, Morton & Clayton canal carrying, cargo boat, carrying fresh and dry produce the length of the country, working primarily between London and Birmingham. Originally she was pulled by a horse before being partnered with a motorised boat and pulled along as a ‘buddy’ boat. In 1916 she had her name changed to Verbena for political reasons. She was part of a class of boats named after European cities, these were then changed to a ‘flower class’ as she would have worked in the war effort probably carrying gunpowder so needed to be on brand for propaganda.

The River Medway

We are moored at the heart of the England’s second great river, The Medway in the county town of Maidstone. Cutting Kent in half to create Kentish Men and Men of Kent this 70 mile river has a catchment of 930sq miles rising as a tiny spring in the High Weald before bursting forth into the Estuary.

Overlooked by castles along her length (Tonbridge Castle, Allington Castle, Rochester Castle) the Medway is still an unspoilt haven. Navigable both by boat and on foot from Tonbridge it is 18km and nine locks to Allington where she becomes tidal, shortly before which she cuts through the centre of Kent’s county town.

Enjoy the river with us this summer

Our Facilities

Our disabled toilet has a door lock and is welcome for our customers to use , please ask a member of staff for the code.

We have highchairs, parasols and a good number of chairs and tables in our garden area opposite the boat, for our customers to sit outside and enjoy the warmer months!