Paul Smith

Author Archives: Paul Smith

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia wandered Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 35' Dutch motor cruiser. However, the pull of England's muddy ditches proved too much for them. Now they're back where they belong, constantly stuck in mud in a beautiful traditional narrowboat.

Blisworth Marina

We are snugly nestled at Gayton Junction on the Grand Union Canal, offering a wealth of cruising options in every direction, making this a popular choice for moorers. We are situated between Northampton and the charming market town of Towcester, adjacent to the A43 and easily accessible from the M1.

We offer water and electric facilities to each berth, modern showers, toilets and laundry. Our helpful residential staff are available seven days a week to help you re-fuel, pump out, give advice on good cruising and assist with any problems. We have plenty of free parking.

Local amenities are close to hand in abundance, from large retail parks to the local village shop, a short walk away.

We have a vibrant and friendly community at our Marina, with regular events taking place.

Our unique Narrowboat Nanny service takes all the hassle and worry out of regular maintenance and preparation, enabling you to spend more time out on the canal enjoying your family, friends and your boat. Visit our Narrowboat Nanny pages to see how we will care for your boat while you are away and have it ready for you when you arrive.

Blisworth Marina

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Blackwater Meadow Marina

Blackwater Meadow Marina is located by the Llangollen Canal on the outskirts of the beautiful market town of Ellesmere in Shropshire which dates back to at least Anglo Saxon times.

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The attractive marina is well equipped with a shop selling boat spares, canal maps, guides and confectionary. On the site there are boats for sale, mooringswith electric hook ups, wi fi and full marina services including a dry dock for out of the water repairs.
The marina is operated by ABC Leisure Group one of the leading companies on the Uk canal network who have another eight marinas strategically placed around the canal network, they have an excellent reputation for building high quality bespoke narrow boats, and can provide everything for the canalboat owner, or potential owner .

Blackwater Meadow Marina

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Blackwater Meadow Marina Review

Blackwater Meadow Marina by Jim Shead (First published in Waterways World in August 2005)

Blackwater Meadow Marina is a comparatively new marina situated close to the junction of the Ellesmere Arm on the busy and ever popular Llangollen Canal. The site was developed in the mid 1990’s by Mick Bridges and his wife Christine who fitted out boats and ran the marina until they sold it on 1st August 2002 to the present owners Waterways Property Portfolio (WPP) Ltd. Jamie Hill is the Managing Director of the marina and is also a director of Canaltime but the day to day operation is in the hands of Neil Huggon, the Marina Manager.

Neil had previously worked as a company director in an engineering distribution company in his home town of Barrow-in-Furness. When Neil started with this company it was associated with the shipyard there, which in 1972 had about 14,500 employees but with the decline of shipbuilding the yard had no more than 5,000 remaining by the time he was made redundant three decades later.

Before he started at the marina in June 2003 Neil’s only previous boating experience was competitive sailing in the Irish Sea. His first trip on a canal was just a week before he started at Blackwater Meadow Marina when his Managing Director arranged a few days trip from Sawley Marina to Burton-on-Trent. This trip, with a friend from his home town, proved an enjoyable introduction to canal boating and Neil was impressed by the tranquillity of the experience and the quality of the boat.

Although close to the centre of Ellesmere the marina is in a quiet rural setting and provides moorings for just under a hundred private boats of all sizes from small cabin cruisers up to 60 foot narrowboats. It is also one of the bases for the ubiquitous Canaltime fleet of timeshare boats. WPP have a management agreement with Canaltime to service and maintain their boats based at the marina. Four days a week from Wednesday to Saturday they clean, service and prepare a proportion of their Canaltime boats ready for new guests to use. Two years ago they had 11 boats, the following year 20 and this year 28 but the size of the marina means that further expansion here is unlikely.

The workforce too has expanded. When Neil took up the post of Marina Manager there were 9 or 10 people on the payroll whereas at present there are about 14 covering all aspects of the marina’s business. Some of these are part-time for the season but the increase in the number of Canaltime boats means that there will be more winter maintenance work to be done and thus the prospect of more jobs continuing throughout the year.

They have three full-time and two part-time engineers to look after the mechanical and electrical work on Canaltime and private boats. They do blacking and small paint jobs but not coach painting or sign-writing work. Pumpout, diesel, gas, chandlery, toilets, Elsan disposal and coal are available. While welcoming everyone to the marina, they do ask that customers first moor outside of the marina to check if these services are available before entering, particularly on the mornings of the Canaltime turnaround days, for safety and operational reasons. As a company they do their best to offer a friendly, reliable, courteous service.

The marina has a slipway for smaller craft and for larger craft the nearby BW dry dock is used for work such as blacking and other tasks that cannot be done in the water. Users of the private moorings have electricity and water available on their pontoons and have a washing machine and tumble dryer available for their use. With the general high demand for moorings and considering the location and setting of Blackwater Meadow Marina it should be no surprise that all the moorings are occupied and the number of people on the waiting list is only slightly less than the total capacity of the marina.

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Billing Marina

Billing Marina is part of Pure Leisure’s country park of Billing Aquadrome. Situated on the River Nene in Northamptonshire in the heart of the UK it is easily accessible from all parts of the country. It is a large marina with 180 berths and full facilities.

All berths on the marina are on floating moorings, alleviating worries about your boat’s safety as the water levels in the River Nene rise and fall. All moorings have access to mains water and electricity. Pets (dogs and cats) are welcome.

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We welcome visitors and have visitor moorings for both cruisers and narrowboats available with access to water points and electricity. Please call us on 07762 905145 for more information or to book.

The security of the moorings is ensured with foot entry only through a security gate with an entry card.

With a mooring in the marina you have full access to all the leisure facilities in Billing Aquadrome, including fishing, bars, shops and restaurants. The Aquadrome is being extensively developed and a new Water Leisure complex with a swimming pool, bars and restaurant has just opened. There are additional shops and restaurants within easy walking distance of the marina.

We provide a full brokerage service for selling your narrowboat or cruiser.

Billing Marina Northampton

Billing Marina Northampton

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Bill Fen Marina

Bill Fen Marina is located on the Middle Level Navigations close to the unspoiled market town of Ramsey. The Marina is situated on a beautifully landscaped thirty one acre site amidst open farmland.

Substantial planting of over 2000 trees has created a new wood as part of the Marina site, adding to the beauty of the existing mature trees. A 10 acre extension to the marina grounds is in progress and will provide another beautifully landscaped pond.

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On site surveillance is provided by infrared cctv cameras and for added security, the owners live on site.

The proprietors, John and Lyn Shotbolt, have created an idyllic setting in this tranquil location, come and visit, see for yourself.

Bill Fen Marina

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Bill Fen Marina Review

Written by Jim Shead: First published in Waterways World July 2005

Having a marina in the Middle Level may seem a remote location to most of the inland boating population but John and Lyn Shotbolt have taken remoteness a stage further by establishing their marina at Bill Fen on Ramsey High Lode. It is 7? miles from the so called “through route” used by craft crossing the Middle Level navigations between the rivers Nene and Great Ouse.

Nearly 150 boats now have places in the marina and others are on the waiting list for moorings. The Middle Level is one of the few places where boats do not require a licence to cruise (although this is likely to change within the next few years) and that is one factor in the increasing demand for moorings in the area. There are also a large number of people living in East Anglia that want to cruise the waterway system but would like to keep their boats near home. Nor is that the whole story as a closer look at the marina will reveal.

In about 1947 John Shotbolt’s father and grandfather started an engineering business in Ramsey doing agricultural work and acting as sub-contractors to large local engineering companies. John continued the business and was living in a house by the Old Nene river at Ramsey St. Mary’s when he decided he would like a boat, so he built himself first a small flat bottomed boat and then a narrowboat.

He then got requests from people to build narrowboats for them and by the time he stopped boat building in 1997 he had completed 60 craft. Having bought a boat many people were then asking where can we moor? This prompted John and Lyn to look for a suitable site for a marina in the Ramsey area.

Their first idea was to use a plot of land near their home village of Ramsey St. Mary’s but this was turned down. In response to their enquiries the planners suggested that an acceptable place to build a marina would be somewhere down the Ramsey High Lode, that runs from the Old Nene to the town. Some land in this area came up for sale by tender and they were able to buy the site.

In 1991 the site was just a flat field with no trees, shrubs or water features. An application for planning permission was made and granted and the first stage of the marina, providing moorings for about 30 boats, was dug out in 1992. Two further stages of development followed with an extra plot being bought to complete the last stage which provides moorings for between 140 and 150 boats.

The small size of the original moorings was because at this time John was constructing boats at a site in Ramsey and the Bill Fen moorings were just a sideline. Now they have ended narrowboat building and the marina is the main activity of the business. Lyn does all the administration and paperwork while John concentrates on maintaining the site which has a large area of grass and shrubs.
John Shotbolt.

The usual diesel, water, gas, coal, pumpout, toilet and showers are available and there is a small chandlery that can supply boater’s needs either from stock or by ordering in. It has no formal opening hours as it is mainly a service for moorers. There is a slipway that will take boats of up to 60 foot. DIY boat blacking and painting can be done but there is no covered boat painting area.

The marina is also a Caravan Club Certified Location with five plots located in a sheltered position beside a large pond that has been created as one of the many landscape features on the site. Fishing is good in the marina and attracts a few local anglers.

Once a year the marina hosts an event for the local IWA branch which usually takes the form of a boule and barbecue day but which this year also includes a May Bank Holiday weekend gathering for moorers and visitors. This is just another factor that contributes to the friendly and welcoming feel of this marina in a rural setting close to the small town of Ramsey.

Once out of the marina there are miles of quiet fenland waters with few locks that recapture the solitude and peaceful cruising that are now just a memory on many of our waterways.

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Barton Turns Marina

Barton Marina, situated on the Trent & Mersey canal, is the ideal central base to explore the Midland’s waterways and beyond.

Purpose built in 2001, Barton Marina is privately owned and we are very proud of the reputation we maintain as the finest inland waterways marina in the UK. Permanent, centrally-heated buildings house our showers, laundrette and marina office. Our workshop facilities are second-to-none, with a hydraulic boat lift giving quick and easy access to the dry dock.

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The boat marina forms part of an 85 acre National Forest woodland site. Visitors can wander around the two large lakes to watch and enjoy the flourishing wildlife.

As you will see on this website Barton Marina isn’t just a place to moor your boat, we have entertainment and events throughout the year. “The Waterfront” pub & restaurant presents locally-sourced good food daily and has 6 guest real ales on offer.

“The Butcher, Baker and Ice Cream Maker” shop offers boaters fresh provisions including; meat, fish, bread, cakes and dairy produce. They are happy to take pre-orders ready for you to collect at the start of your holiday or as you pass by. Please see: www.bbicm.co.uk

With 12 other shops & businesses in the marina many visitors remark on the holiday atmosphere.

Barton Marina has over 300 berths available for permanent and temporary moorings with residential by arrangement. Access to the jetties is for boat owners only, using a PIN code system to enter the security gates.

Each jetty has a water supply and each berth has its own electrical hook-up. Long-term gated car parking is available to moorers.

Barton Turns Marina

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Barton Turns Marina Review

First published in Waterways World August 2006 By Jim Shead

Situated between Fradley Junction and Burton on Trent, on the Trent & Mersey Canal, Barton Turns is a new marina opened in 2001. It is on an 85 acre site that was originally owned by the local company Douglas Concrete and was used for gravel extraction that resulted in some lakes. After that the land was obtained by Barry Morgan, who is now Managing Director of the private limited company that runs the marina.

Planning for the marina began in the early 1990s and the construction started in 1999. Land & Water were contacted to install all the jetties and other water space structures while the rest of the site was constructed by local builders and architects.

Keith and Sue Harpham (right)are the husband and wife team who run the marina and it was their boat that was first to enter the marina when the stop planks were lifted on 15 August 2000. The facilities building and workshop were not completed until after Easter 2001 when the marina became fully operational. Within two years the moorings were full and there is now a waiting list.

Keith and Sue have been boating since the eighties and built their current boat themselves in 1996. Originally they had a unit at Burton on Trent where they were fitting out boats and at the time the marina development started found they were looking for bigger premises. This led them to take on the management of the marina.

There are over 300 berths at Barton Turns which were originally fitted with a computerised system for the monitoring of electricity to all the berths. Unfortunately the system had software problems and never worked properly so it was removed and now electricity is supplied as part of the mooring fees which are now an all inclusive charge based on the length of jetty rather than on the boat.

The marina has its own set of keys giving access to facilities, these replaced the BW keys that were used for this purpose after it was found that various unauthorised people were making use of the facilities and the marina suffered a spate of minor thefts and vandalism.

The marina is the base for Shakespeare Classic Line, a fleet of 20 timeshare and hire boats belonging to a Leamington based company who have their own receptionist for their guests and provide their own contract cleaners for the boats. The marina provides the narrowboat servicing and tuition for guests using the boats. These attract a lot of overseas visitors and are used throughout the year. They turnaround on four days a week so that there are never more than six boats going out on one day, which spreads the load for both the marina staff and for the use of the local locks.

The marina employs seven staff plus some yardmen, who are all retired men doing two days a week. Part of the yardmen’s duties is giving tuition to the Shakespeare Classic Line boaters and ensuring that guests have a sufficient degree of skill before they take the boats away. This includes operating a lock and if a sufficient degree of competency is not reached they go through the procedure again.

Some Ownerships share boats are also based in the marina and make use of its facilities. All the berths have electricity and water and there are toilets (including disabled and baby changing facilities), showers, a token operated launderette, shop and chandlery and all available in addition to the usual diesel, gas and pumpout services. They also have a hydraulic boat lift which will take any size boat out of the water and up the slipway into the workshop. This was built by the marina company and is driven by a fixed chain mechanism that controls both lifting out and launching processes.

Although they offer repair services they do not take on major steelwork jobs, or fabrication work. This can be tackled at Streethay Wharf, which is not far away and specialises in this type of work.

A further phase of development is planned for the marina which will consist of a traditional style public house with a raised decking so that customers can sit outside with a view across the marina. It will provide bar meals and have a 220 seat restaurant downstairs with a similar sized function room and restaurant upstairs for private and corporate bookings. There will also be seven craft shops, two other restaurants (of different types to offer a good choice, e.g. Italian and Thai), some office accommodation and a large car park. Construction is scheduled to start in November 2005 and opening for June 2006.

Beyond this a further development of a hotel and leisure facilities is envisaged on the land between the marina and the lake. The large site, part of which has been planted as part of the National Forest, also has potential for further attractions and recreational use.

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Barton Grange Marina

Barton Grange Marina sits in a beautiful countryside location and enjoys some truly breathtaking views. Committed to excellent quality and first class customer service, our intention from the outset has been to provide a superior, first-rate marina incorporating the following facilities:

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The Marina at Barton Grange
State of the art security
Safe car parking
Shower and toilet facilities
Launderette
Wireless internet connection
Electricity supplies to each berth
Water supply within close proximity to each berth
Pump-out and sewage disposal
Comprehensive recycling facilities
Barbecue area

The scenic Lancaster canal is ready for you to explore with an array of pubs and restaurants bordering its banks. Close to the historic market town of Garstang and ideally located between the cities of Preston and Lancaster, it really is the ideal location for any canal enthusiast.

And of course, our gorgeous Garden Centre, is a mere stone’s throw away. It offers year round interest and all-weather shopping, with an extensive and stunning range of products, two restaurants, a Cook Shop and a Farm Shop selling the best local produce and finest speciality foods.

The Marina has eighty berths for narrowboats and we would be delighted to show you around at your convenience. To arrange a visit or if you require further information, please contact Tracy Curran on 01995 642926.

Barton Grange Marina

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Aston Marina

Aston Marina is a new and exciting marina development located in a tranquil part of Staffordshire, at Aston Lock, near Stone on the Trent & Mersey canal. The unique feature of an entrance and exit facilitates easy navigation.

The development of the180 berth marina spans over 12 acres. Within the marina there is a Farm Shop & Bistro. Boat Repair Workshop and Secure Parking & many more attractive features will follow shortly. All will be situated within 40 acres of picturesque park land.

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Aston Marina

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Apperley Bridge Marina

A purpose built marina, part of a prestigious waterfront development, offering quality moorings on the picturesque Leeds Liverpool Canal between Leeds and Bingley.

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Located just off the A658 Harrogate Road, Apperley Bridge Marina is well placed for access to Rail and Road links and even Air Transport (Leeds Bradford Airport is only 15 minutes away) and is within easy walking distance of the local supermarkets, banks and other essential services. Approximately ten pubs in the vicinity cater for every taste and together with local eateries provide food for every occasion.

The Leeds Liverpool Canal provides for a wealth of spectacular cruising and is not subject to the vagaries of water level experienced on some river navigations.

Take an out and back trip through the famous Bingley five rise locks up to Skipton and beyond for a short break, or a trip ‘over the hill’ into Lancashire or even a longer journey as part of a Northern ‘ring’. Apperley Bridge is the ideal starting point for a canal trip and a nice place to come home to!

Apperley Bridge Marina

Apperley Bridge Marina

More Apperly Bridge Marina Photo’s

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Aspley Wharf Marina

We are a family run business established here in Huddersfield for over 25 years with our Marina conveniently based at the point where the Broad and Narrow canals meet near the centre of town.

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Aspley Wharf Marina has moorings and good facilities for thirty plus narrow boats and a chandlery shop catering for your boating needs.

‘If you are looking to purchase a new canal craft and want a traditionally built hand crafted boat you need look no further than Tayberg Steel Boats of Brighouse. If you would like to view a shell or want further details please contact us.

Aspley Wharf Marina

Aspley Wharf Marina

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