The new boating season gets underway

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.

New landscaping at the marina

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.

Lechlade Marina wins the FLBC New Business award!

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.

An Award for Ian

At the end of January, the 13th annual Fairford & Lechlade Business Club Awards were held at Sudbury House Hotel in Faringdon. Although we weren’t able to be there on the night, we were thrilled that Ian won the Howard Dowler Award, which is a special award made by the Chair to the person or business that has made an outstanding contribution to the local community.

Helen Webb, the FLBC Chair, presented the award to Ian at an ordinary meeting of the Club and had some very nice words to say:

“When Ian and Jules joined the Business Club two years ago, they were still in the process of buying Lechlade Marina and drove from Northampton to regularly attend meetings to get to know the local community. Since purchasing the Marina, Ian has transformed it from the previously unloved state to a going concern which offers a great place to moor a boat. I am sure he will say there is still a lot to do, but he has made a significant difference to those that moor their boats, many of whom live there.

He has not only brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to the Marina, but also to the community, joining the Steering Group for the Business Club, the River User Group for the Upper Thames and is current Secretary of that group as well as sitting on the Lechlade Town Council. In a short space of time, he has made a positive contribution to the local area and community.  From a personal perspective, he offers valuable insights at our meetings and is also a thoroughly nice chap!”

It’s lovely to have this recognition of all Ian’s hard work and of the commitment he’s made to the area since we moved here, and we very much appreciate the FLBC’s support.

A refurbished bridge to the island

Refurbished bridge

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!