At the weekend Lechlade Marina hosted a rally for The Steamboat Association of Great Britain (SBA),https://www.steamboatassociation.co.uk. Eleven beautiful steamboats of different ages, shapes and sizes were launched on the slipway and moored with us. There was also an electric Frolic 21 and a traditional styled diesel cabin launch. One or two intrepid boaters stayed onboard overnight, to the amazement of some of our moorers.
The air was filled with the traditional scents and sounds of the steam age: coal fires, steam being let off and the occasional whistle. Saturday was a perfect summer day. The steam boats headed down river for lunch at The Swan at Radcot, before returning to the marina in the early evening. Their arrival was announced by a chorus of whistles. On Sunday, several boats went upstream to explore how far they could go. Others enjoyed quiet runs between St John’s Lock and the Riverside Inn. Sadly, the weather brought a rather swift end to the weekend when rain stopped play.
The SBA rally enhanced Lechlade’s participation in Steamboat Sunday, a day organised by the Consuta Trust and National Lottery Heritage Fund to promote interest in steamboats. Ian has been a member of the SBA for a number of years and was delighted when the opportunity arose to invite members to bring their boats to Lechlade. The SBA Members chatted to many moorers who showed great enthusiasm and interest in the boats. The organiser commented on how welcome they had been made to feel by our moorers, for which we thank you. We hope to see many more of these beautiful boats being launched on the marina slipway again.
Autumn has truly set in. On sunny days the chilly weather has produced boats that sparkle with frost, and on damp days the Thames glides along lazily underneath a mantle of mist. The river is not yet at full flow, but it is the time of year when those who live aboard permanently start preparing for the Winter months. Lechlade Marina too is still hard at work with the planned renovations on the marina buildings and with the general tidy up that was started in the summer. This has included the removal of a number of disused boats that has given way to some much-needed space.
However, there is much more to the marina than just its buildings, the trees here have all been surveyed prior to surgery or in some cases felling. This will remove any neglected and dangerous specimens and prolong the life of the trees remaining, many of which enhance the local environment and include some rarer species.
A healthier environment encourages wildlife to visit, and this is plentiful along this stretch of the Thames with a variety of animals that include water voles, kingfishers, red kites and egrets. We have had rare sightings of otters in the summer months, and at present, the familiar call of tawny owls can be heard almost nightly in the trees above the boats establishing their breeding territories within the area.
The renovations are producing an ever-changing landscape here at the moment, and in doing so they are slowly revealing the natural beauty of this marina that has been hidden for so long.
We had a fantastic day yesterday making a huge stride forward tidying up the marina. 30 of our moorers and neighbours gave up some or all of their Saturday, and worked hard in the hot sun helping to clear away the rubbish, cut back undergrowth and brambles, making the marina look so much tidier and a nicer place to relax in the sun or shade of the trees.