Spring has finally sprung in Lechlade and, for us, the new boating season has also begun, with the cruisers that were stored on land over the winter now back in the water.
The craning operation took place on a bitterly cold but thankfully dry Saturday at the start of April, with the team from MJT Crane Hire Ltd once again on site. Barry Tuckey and his two ‘banks-women’ – his daughter, Lisa, and regular assistant, Sharon – arrived with their 60-tonne crane just before 9am and, with the help of some of the boat owners, all 10 cruisers were safely transferred to their berths in just two and a half hours.
Covid restrictions over the last year meant that many owners didn’t feel it was worth putting their boats back in the water last spring, so most of the ones craned in this year had been on dry land for nearly 18 months. With the end of the pandemic now hopefully in sight, it’s lovely to have the marina looking so full once again.
Thanks to Barry, Lisa, Sharon and all our socially distanced owner/helpers for a job very well done. We’re now keeping everything crossed for some fine weather and looking forward to a busy summer.
A huge benefit of much the restoration work we’ve done at the marina over the past few years has been the positive impact on the natural environment. Clearing the site, cutting back overgrown shrubs, removing diseased trees and opening up the landscape has resulted in healthy flora thriving and a huge increase in the amount of wildlife in the marina. We’ve now got a really inviting habitat for fish, water voles, kingfishers, swans and ducks – and the populations keep growing!
Our most recent investment has been in hedging, to replace some of the trees that had to be removed and which will also provide additional shelter and food for our wildlife. Kingsdown Nurseries supplied us with a total of 270 whips, which we’ve managed to get in the ground just in time for a spring growth spurt.
We’ve put in a 12m beech hedge along one edge of the car park and then along the western boundary, running from the river bank back into the marina, we’ve planted a 42m mix of shrubs – hawthorn, cherry plum, privet, hazel, pear and beech. Once they’ve matured, they should provide excellent privacy and protection, as well as nesting for birds, blossom for bees and plenty of foraging opportunities for smaller mammals.
The lockdowns over the last year have certainly given us the opportunity to get things done more quickly than we otherwise could have under normal business conditions. But now that restrictions are about to start easing, we’re very much looking forward to welcoming everyone back over the coming months to enjoy our beautiful marina once again.
This weekend, the Fairford & Lechlade Business Club held the ceremony for its annual business awards. Usually, it’s a super black-tie dinner where everyone can mingle freely; this year, understandably, had to be a strictly online affair.
The Barn Theatre in Cirencester hosted the event, where Helen Webb, Chair of the FLBC, announced this year’s finalists and winners…
…and we’re delighted to say that Lechlade Marina won New Business of the Year!
The judges commented:
“Ian & Jules have quickly restored Lechlade Marina that had fallen into such disrepair over the past few years. The neglect has all been wiped away and it is now a lovely part of the Thames again, with a waiting list for boat moorings.
Not only have they brought about a positive change to the marina and the surrounding area, but have also immersed themselves in the local community, joining the Steering Group for the Business Club, the River User Group for the Upper Thames, as well as sitting on Lechlade town council.
The judges had a huge amount of respect for what has been achieved as a newer business in just two years. Well done Ian & Jules and Lechlade Marina.”
This kind of recognition reassures us that all the hard work we’ve put in over the past couple of years has been utterly worthwhile. Although there is still – and always will be – work to do, we’re very pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish in a relatively short period and we’re incredibly grateful to the first-class contractors and suppliers that have done the more specialist work, as well as all our moorers that have helped out. Together, we’ve been able to completely turn the marina around, from a run-down facility with a bad reputation into something that’s a real benefit to the town.
A huge thank you to everyone who has helped us and to Fairford & Lechlade Business Club for giving us the award.
You can watch the video of the online awards ceremony via Facebook – our category runs from timecode 10:33 to 12:46.
This morning we saw off the latest team to tackle the 128 miles of the Thames from Lechlade to London – by pedalo!
Workmates, Dan, Dom, Josh & Tom, are raising money for Age UK and attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the journey.
This had originally been due to take place back in June, at which point the record (set in 2018) stood at 4 days, 12 hours, 49 minutes & 17 seconds. But all the restrictions around the coronavirus meant they had to reschedule and, in the meantime, another team pipped them to the starting post.
So, the question is, will they break the world record that’s just been set by Alex Gibson (former GB decathlete, who was diagnosed with MND in 2018), Andy Long, Alun Thomas and Joel Reid? They made the same journey in 2 days, 15 hours, 2 minutes & 46 seconds at the end of August and have raised more than £14,000 so far for Challenging MND. This current team’s goal is to get to the finish line in under 2 days 12 hours!
You can follow Dan & the team’s progress on Instagram and support them via their charity page on JustGiving.
**UPDATE – 20th September**
Huge congratulations to Dan and his team, who completed the pedalo challenge in 2 days, 10 hours & 15 minutes – a new record!
As we celebrate two years since we bought the marina, we’ve been reflecting on what’s changed in that time. We knew we were embarking on a restoration project that would take several years to complete, but feel as though we’re now well on the way. We are grateful to all the contractors, neighbours, family, friends and of course the moorers who have helped us along the way.
Looking back at pictures of the site as it was when we acquired it, we're really encouraged to see how much difference the work we’ve done so far has made.
And with lockdown measures hopefully continuing to ease, we look forward to welcoming back our moorers and slipway users over the coming weeks, as they return to enjoy this beautiful part of the Thames.
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.