Shop front in the summer

Monday, 30 June 2014

Today has seen Oddnydod emerge from the paint dock, unfortunaetly she wasn't outside long before we put her into the dry dock to have her bottom pressure washed and blacked. That will finish the job off nicely although we have still got a few engineering jobs left to do. I was too busy moving boats around earlier and dealing with customers to get some pictures, but below are some that I took on Friday which give you the jist. Trevor has been busy signwritting and my pictures were taken before he did his amazing shadowing. I'll post a few more pictures later in the week.

We had Just Sublime on the dry dock this morning for a pre purchase survey. All has been reported as in good condition, so that's another boat that we have sold! 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Well what a weekend that was...

I must firstly apologise for the lack of blogs of the weekend, but I am afraid that our time was taken up with keeping on top of things here at Norbury.

We have sent all three day boats out on both Saturday and Sunday, all of which have had a most enjoyable time due to the brilliant weather that we have been experiencing.

The trip boat has worked hard this weekend too. She was out on Fish and Chip cruises on both Friday night and Saturday and had a full day of Public trips yesterday.

We have had a 50ft cruiser stern narrowboat arrive For Sale. Full details below.

Whimbrel is a 50 foot all steel cruiser stern narrowboat that was built by Peter Nicholls Steel Boats in 1985. She is powered by a reliable 1.5 BMC diesel engine which is located under the large rear deck. Her layout from the rear comprises of three bunks, shower compartment, toilet compartment with wash hand basin opposite, fully fitted galley complete gas cooker and 12v fridge, forward of this is the L shaped seating that converts into a double berth and finally a large open saloon with free standing furniture and Morso Squirrel solid fuel stove. Whimbrel was docked and blacked in February 2013 when she also had two new anodes fitted. BSC to 09/2015 and CRT license to 04/2015. 


  Regards, David

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Getting afloat - Part 11

Peter Underwood looks what turns ordinary people into boaters.

Now where are you going to take your new boat?
Now you have your boat, how can you get the best out of ownership? You are not a hirer rushing around a 'ring' any more so how should you plan your boating. We take a look at some of the boating events throughout the year and what a new boater might get out of them.

EVERY boater has their own favourite canal or stretch of waterway. You will hear people raving about the Thames and arguing about the best section. Other rate the Kennet and Avon, the Shropshire Union, the Grand Union and the Llangollen. The northern waters, especially around Skipton, have many fans and there are even those boaters happiest on the urban backwaters of the Birmingham Canal Navigations.

Of course, if you moor in the South East it will be next to impossible to reach the Leeds and Liverpool and return in the couple of weeks you can take as a holiday.

The way to get over this is to change your base of operations every year or two, once you have comfortably explored an area and feel ready for something new.

When we lived in Lancashire and owned holiday boats we tried to moor around a two hour drive from the house – a reasonable journey on a Friday evening to start a weekend break on the boat.

That meant we could explore the Yorkshire Ouse, with weekends tied in the wonderful city of York, or exploring Ripon with it's attractive cathedral.

After an epic two week holiday that brought us south on the tidal Ouse and onto the eastern canals at Selby, through Leeds and around the Leeds and Liverpool to Cheshire, we established another base that allowed us to explore the Shropshire Union, with weekend breaks in Chester, the Trent and Mersey and the Bridgewater.

The Victorian Incline Plane at Foxton is the real fascination.
It is easy to visualise how this once slid boats down the hill in 12 minutes?

 Another move to a Stafford base gave another set of canals, and tying our boat in central Birmingham enabled a completely different experience. Eventually of course you may have to travel further than a couple of hours drive from home, but that could be a decade in the future.

When you want to make longer trips you can always link a two week holiday with several weekends, perhaps making a long initial trip and then hopping the boat back to base over several weekends.

It may be inevitable – and we were certainly guilty as novice holiday boaters – that you will try to go too far, too fast, in that initial burst of enthusiasm. With the benefit of hindsight I would advise against travelling 12 or even 14 hour days, non-stop, to an ambitious fixed schedule.

Not only will you return needing a holiday you will also miss some of the things that help people fall in love with the waterways.

Give yourself time to stop and explore the areas through which canals and rivers pass. Not only will you find some great little pubs and eating places, you will begin to understand the history of the waterways and how they have changed, and been changed by, the towns and villages of our country.

The museum at Ellesmere Port gives a real insight into the world
of working boats, from the engines upwards.
There are so many examples I can only mention a few that impressed me. In Skipton, you will find an historic town dominated by it's castle overlooking the market street. A stroll along the Springs Branch of the canal will take you to the back of the castle where limestone was mined and loaded into boats through long chutes. You have to wonder whether the castle would have survived if the landowner hadn't been able to make money by exporting the limestone in his back yard.

The Skipton bonus is several great pubs serving the local Copper Dragon beer and fish and chip restaurants only surpassed in Hull and possibly Whitby.

At the other end of the country you see a very different aspect of Stratford-Upon-Avon if you walk the towpath – this is not Tudor Stratford that brings foreign tourists in their millions, but industrial Stratford, built to serve the industries that provided work and prosperity before tourism became central to the town's economy.

The Shropshire Union and the Llangollen canals are some of the most popular in the country, with wonderful scenery and some great canal architecture, but stop and explore and they get even better.

Brewood has a great old-style butcher who makes his own faggots. At Norbury you can see the start of the now derelict Newport and Shrewsbury canal. A walk into Market Drayton will take you to the home of gingerbread. There is a former nuclear bunker to visit a bit north of the lovely village of Audlem and a mile or so from the canal at Nantwich you will find a Cheshire market town well worth a few hours to explore.

Many of the excellent guides will give you an insight into what is just beyond the towpath, so invest in those that cover the area you are planning to explore and I would suggest buying Ordnance Survey maps as well to enable you to check out what may be behind the hill.

Our waterways take us through the heart of Britain and enable us to explore its nature, its history, its commerce and meet the people who make the communities bordering the water so interesting.

Take a drink in the pub or eat in a restaurant and you will find you are also part of interest of that place. People will want to know what boating is like, where you are heading, how long you have been doing it and probably whether it is cold in winter.

Landmark places
Around the waterways there are some landmark places that most boaters aim to visit at some time. I suspect my list may miss places others would have but this is essentially a personal thing and influenced by taste.

Some are great feats of canal engineering, others places of interest from the days when the waterways were places of work and some simply places where you can gain a greater understanding of the system.

Lets start with those feats of engineering. Top of my list is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
on the Llangollen, the most famous aqueduct in Britain as it's the longest and highest. It's a World Heritage Site.

The Anderton Boat Lift, which links the Trent and Mersey with the River Weaver at Northwich, Cheshire claims to be the first successful boat lift in the world. The experience of travelling 15 metres up or down in the large tanks is one to be savoured.
The Barton Swing Bridge on the Bridgewater Canal heading north from Manchester, is another tank, this time the only swinging aqueduct in the world. It carries the Bridgewater across the Manchester Ship Canal. The aqueduct regularly swings open to let large ships pass underneath.

Then there are the lock flights. The Bingley Five Rise and three rise on the Leeds and Liverpool canal are impressive to travel through, wide locks that raise the canal over 18 metres in five giant steps.

My fascination for the Caen Hill Locks at Devizes, Wiltshire, on the Kennet and Avon comes from having seen them more than three decades ago when they were disused and more in grass than in water, with the beams climbing a grassy hillside. I can only marvel at the persistence that got them working once more.

The double staircase of narrow locks at Foxton Locks, Leicestershire are unique but for me the Victorian inclined plain, off to one side is the real fascination. It is easy to visualise how this once slid boats down the hill in 12 minutes and I remain hopeful of seeing it restored.

Others on my list include the newest canal in the country, the new section cut across the front of the Liver Building in Liverpool to give canal vessels access to the restored docks.

Limehouse Docks in the East End of London, now restored as a destination for boaters and a route out onto the Thames, has echoes of wartime bravery by working boatmen.

Glasson dock, on the Lancaster Canal is another of those unusual places where the inland waterways link with the sea and the cries of sea-birds and rattle of rigging give a taste of a different watery world.

Finally canals are about industry and along with the wonderful museums at Ellesmere Port, Gloucester Dock and Stoke Bruerne which help us understand canals I would add the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley where the reality of a working boat dock in the industrial Midlands is brought to life.

The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley where the reality of
a working boat dock in the industrial Midlands is brought to life.

Get a grip on how canals used to be and you will start to enjoy and understand the gaunt and crumbling mills you pass as you boat through Burnley and Blackburn and the gaping wastelands of Tipton or Walsall where the pits, power stations and metal works have been pulled down.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014


It’s been a seriously hot day today, and I have Man Flu, typical! It was very busy on Monday, Quite quiet yesterday and steady today, which I am glad about as this man flu is horrible; it slows you down and makes you feel very tiered.

The usual stuff has gone on over the last few days, three day boats out on Monday and Tuesday, funnily none today, but MR HB and Peter has floated a brokerage boat off the dock that has been blacked and then they docked Axbridge, that is the new to us hire boat that finally turned up a few weeks ago, she will be in the dock for a week and a bit so we can not only get the bottom blacked also we can get the top sides looking a bit better as she is out on hire next month; Bernard wondered in late today after a hospital appointment and started work straight away on a Vetus engine that didn’t want to run properly, it turned out to be a dirty relay, while he was at it he did replace the exhaust flexi pipe that had broken, but it hadn’t been fitted correctly in the first place, hence it had broken; Mick took advantage of this great weather hand has managed to get the moorings grass all strimmed, weeds pulled and everything dosed in weed killer, all in all not a bad day, apart from my Man Flu!


Sunday, 15 June 2014

As Simon mentioned earlier in the week, The Shropshire Star has been on the dock for her bi-annual survey which is carried out by a surveyor from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Passenger trip boats (carrying more than 12 people) are regulated by this government body and operate on much stricter terms than most narrowboats. When we docked her at the beginning of the week, I had a look round her and noted a few bits and pieces that needed doing to her. One of our anodes had fell off (we didn't put it on I hasten to add), the bottom rudder bearing required placing and the skeg support bar was missing. Bernard duly set about putting these few things right. The surveyor arrived on Wednesday lunchtime and passed her with flying colours!

We see a lot of customers who are looking at buying boats and immediately dismiss older boats as they think the steel work will be worn. Well the trip boat just goes to prove the opposite! She was built by Les Allen of Oldbury in the late 60s, early 70s and she has had no plating work carried out apart from reinstating the chine angle on the two rear corners (where the sides meet the bottom). The ultra-sonic readings show that she has very little (if any) wear to her "British Steel" built hull. I know that older boats aren't to everybody's taste, but I am just saying that they shouldn't be dismissed.

It's been quite a busy week and this weekend has been no different. Friday saw us sending out three dayboats along with three hire boats, Saturday saw us sending out three dayboats again along with five hire boats. Once again today we have sent out three dayboats, one hire boat and the trip boat has been operating 1-hour long public trips today, captained by Will and crewed by Mike.

The tea room has been busy and has been ably manned by Sylvia and Denise, whilst myself and Ange have been in the office, seeing customers, answering phones and generally wondering where the day has gone to!

We had one of the brokerage boats on the dock for a survey this morning, following which we docked a private boat for pressure washing and blacking which meant Peter descended into the bottom of the dock for a couple of hours with the pressure washer to wash her off.

Lee has been busy preparing Oddnydod for painting. Her paintwork wasn't in the best shape and had suffered from some years of deterioration. Here's a couple of pictures of her when she came in...

And here's how she looks at the moment...

Boat sales seem to have gone ballistic over the last month or so, with another one being sold today! I have had one come in over the weekend which I will be advertising on our website tomorrow - so do keep your eyes peeled, but we do need more stock! Our Brokerage service is excellent. The contract is for a six month period during which time the moorings are free and we only charge 5% + VAT (terms apply). We also buy boats for cash. So, if you are looking at upgrading or need to part with your boat we can help you out! Please give Simon or me a call on 01785 284292 to discuss your options or alternatively drop us an email

That's everything to report for today. Have a good week!

Best regards, David.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Lovely day, all day, at last!

I was away all last week and enjoyed some lovely days with lovely weather, but according to everyone back home its been pants, well I thought they might have been exaggerating a little, but on Monday I realised that they probably hadn't, just as the thunder storm hit and rain like the world was about to end, the skies got darker and darker until they burst, and it did the same thing yesterday! WOW what rain we had! It didn't cause us any problems, I did feel sorry for the day boaters who got a good drenching, but to day has been wall to wall sunshine.

Its been a really busy week so far, the phone has not stopped ringing, I will go to sleep tonight with it ringing in my ears, We only had the one day boat go out today but there was plenty of other things going on around the wharf, the wharf it self has been very busy with passing boats requiring services, we have our trip boat on our dock at the moment for its usual MCA survey that is carried out every couple of years, that passed with flying colours, good job really as its out tomorrow night with the Norbury WI aboard, Peter has done a grand job of blacking it and painting the tunnel bands, while Bernard had a couple of small welding jobs to do, as the sun has been out all day Mr Hand bag came in and has spent the day making the moorings look loved again, you can imagine how tall the grass was getting, and the tea room has been manned by Sylvia who has been kept on her toes with a steady stream of customers all day long, ahhh the sun brings everyone out.

Lets see what tomorrow brings.

Regards Simon

Sunday, 8 June 2014

It's been a busy week here at Norbury with the usual coming and goings of dayboats and hire boats.

Lee has finished painting Arwen Evenstar and we have had her on the drydock for blacking and a few welding jobs. Trevor has been hard at work sign writing her whilst she has been on the dry dock too. Here's a few pictures of her transformation over the last few weeks.

Our Fish and Chip cruises are proving to be popular again this year. We have run one for the last few weeks. We have got the boat on the dock this week so haven't planned one for this coming weekend, but they will be operating after then and throughout the summer. Details of our current Wowcher deals can be found here. We are also running an offer on our Sunday 1-hour long public trips here. And not to leave the dayboats out we are running an offer here and here!

Regards, David

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Yesterday saw the arrival of a pair of swans that had nested locally and brought their young up on to the canal. Unfortunately when they left the lake where their nest was situated they left the seventh member of their family behind. Eddie; one of the locals, rounded up the cygnet and drove round until he found the rest of the family and plopped it back into the canal. The whole family have been swimming around the basin today. It's a great location for them because they get plenty of food from people on the boats and visitors to the area.

Sorry for the short post today, but I need to go and swap a boat in the painting dock.

More on that tomorrow!

Best regards, David.