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.
The annual task of lifting most of our fibreglass boats out of the water ahead of winter has now been successfully completed. This measure removes the chance of damage to the fibreglass if the water were to freeze, and storing the boats on land for a few months gives the owners the opportunity to re-apply anti-fouling paint to the hull – something most do every one or two years.
As a result of restrictions on activity due to Covid-19, a number of our moorers had taken the decision not to return their boats to the water this spring so we only had around half as big a job as last year. The heavy lifting was taken care of brilliantly by Barry Tuckey and his team from MJT Crane Hire Ltd, helped by the boat owners and volunteers from among our other moorers.
Over the winter we’ll be taking care of the various ongoing maintenance jobs around the marina. Then hopefully we’ll be in a position to get all 14 of our now-landbound boats back in the water around March 2021 and can return to our usual full-capacity business.
One of the things that had long been an issue for our slipway users was the lack of somewhere convenient to get into and out of smaller vessels.
Well, we’re delighted to announce that it’s no longer a problem! Now that the slipway area has been properly cleared, we have been able to put in a 9m x 1.5m floating pontoon, which will make things much easier for people launching or recovering their small boats, canoes, kayaks, etc.
For those of you interested in the technical side, the pontoon system is RotoDock, an extremely robust, stable, non-slip platform. And we’d like to thank Wardle Marine Services for their very efficient service in supplying and installing the pontoon for us – great job.