It’s been a year since we hosted the Steam Boat Association rally here at Lechlade, when eleven beautiful steamboats of different ages, shapes and sizes were launched on the slipway and moored with us.
We were asked to choose the winner of the Thames Cup and decided that the best way to avoid showing favouritism was to delegate that responsibility to our five year-old son. He was delighted and picked ‘Zara Finn’ as the boat that he most wanted to go on…a boat that actually belongs to the SBA Chair and his wife! They very kindly gave Hugo (and Ian) a ride down the river to Ye Old Swan pub at Radcot, with Hugo steering the boat some of the way.
Ian finally had the opportunity to present the award to Kevin and Gillie Slater at the SBA AGM this March, a review of which appears in the latest issue of The Funnel magazine (Summer 2020).
Slip into the river at Lechlade…
While all our moorings are currently taken, anyone is very welcome to use our slipway to access the Thames. And our secure, on-site parking means you can leave your vehicle here and cruise the river for however long you want. We charge just £20 for the use of the slipway and one day’s parking; £5 a day for parking thereafter.
So, as the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions lift and river use returns, we look forward to welcoming more of you to the marina.
Although booking is not absolutely necessary, it is helpful if you can give us notice. Call us on 07889 070 623, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the online contact form.
On 31st January, we finally completed the mammoth task of replacing the entire electricity and water supply around the marina, which we’d begun in September last year. The services hadn’t been upgraded since the marina opened in the early ‘80s and were really no longer adequate for the needs of our moorers. (And Ian was getting very bored of multiple daily visits to the main fuse board every time the circuit breaker tripped!)
This was a huge undertaking, as trenches had to be dug across the whole site – many by hand because of the location. That presented a challenge in itself: finding contractors who are prepared to hand-dig is not easy. Once we’d got a new electricity supply for the site, 800m of cables and water pipes were laid in the trenches and smart new bollards were installed by the moorings. We have to say, Stuart Baines from RMCS did a superb job of project-managing the installation of the bollards and we’d highly recommend his services.
At the same time as this work was going on, we put in new SOS stations and replaced many of the wooden landing stages, as well as doing a lot of general tidying up. So, although there are still a few jobs on the list that we made when we arrived at the marina, we’re getting there!
One of the most important jobs on the very long list we made when we took over the marina was refurbishing the bridge to the island. A general lack of maintenance over the years since it was first built in the early ‘90s had been further compounded by mild damage suffered when a boat underneath it caught fire!
So, as well as giving it a much-needed aesthetic facelift, we wanted to make sure the whole bridge structure was fully compliant with current Health & Safety standards and providing proper services to the island moorings.
Over a period of two weeks, we reinforced the structure, painted it, replaced all the stair treads and walkway deck with an anti-slip surface and put up safety guards. We also had a cable tray fitted to support the new insulated water pipe and mains electricity cable.
And we’re very pleased with it. The only downside, as our son pointed out, is that he can no longer play ‘Pooh sticks’ from the top. More outings to Halfpenny Bridge have been promised!
At the weekend Lechlade Marina hosted a rally for The Steamboat Association of Great Britain (SBA). 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.