I suppose I can be classed as a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to old boats and the canal system.
I have always classed the ex-carrying boats as "working" boats. It wasn't until yesterday when a pair of hotel boats; Kerala and Karnataka, breasted up and duly tied on our wharf alongside the day boats (that we were in the middle of turning round) that I actually thought to myself that these are the modern day working boats, that bring good revenue to the canal system.
Kerala and Karnataka tied abreast of Victory and Defiant.
Here at Norbury we have got day boats, weekly hire boats and a trip boat that are all worked hard, carrying passengers, rather than hauling freight as the canal system was predominately designed to do when it was built.
I must add, that it was a great sight to see a pair of hotel boats still actively trading. So many of the hotel boat pair's have stopped trading due to a number of factors, but I guess the main one being lack of trade. I remember Mabel and Forget-me-not, Dawn and Dusk, Duke and Duchess, Oak and Ash to name but a few actively trading - all of which have been retired now.
Hotel boating is a way of life, just like working in a boat yard and I take my hat off to the people that go and do it. I've only had a short experience with hotel boats, but it's something that I have always wanted to go and do for a season. It probably won't ever happen now that I have settled down here at Norbury. Working in a boat yard is not a job or even a hobby - you've got to take the rough with the smooth, but at the end of the day when you lock the door, you've got to be content and expect the next customer to knock on the boat and ask for a bag of coal!
Will the hotel boats come back to life? I do hope so!