Sunday, 24 March 2013

Victorian pleasure cruising for the rich and famous!

During a recent holiday in Cornwall I revisited the excellent National Maritime Museum in Falmouth and came across this beautiful Thames steam launch 'Waterlily', designed and built by John Thornycroft in 1866.  She has a riveted wrought iron hull and is still in working condition.  She is 42 feet long (3 feet shorter than Patience), with a 7 ft 6 in beam (about 8 in broader than Patience), has a forward saloon, an aft cabin and a vertical boiler and steam engine amidships.  They knew how to design stylish boats in the 19th century, but I have to say that the similarly sized Patience offers much more in the way of covered accommodation, if not quite so much polished teak!

At the other end of the luxury scale, the museum also has the original prototype Mirror dinghy (sail no.1).  This could be bought as a kit in 1963 for less than £64.  I sold my Mirror (sail no. 18929) in 2011 for a little more than that, see earlier blog entry.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Twenty Pence Marina

A pleasant day, warmest for several months, so following the interest shown in my previous entry on Twenty Pence I took in the Marina on The Old West river  near Wilburton on the way to work.  Having seen it often from the river this was the first time I'd approached from the road.
At first glance it was unimpressive, with that run-down, bird-dropping and mouldy-caravan feel. The "reception" was closed (not unreasonable for March) but with faded notices in the window and nothing welcoming.  So much so that I went back to the road rather than force my way through the locked gate.
Here I found that where the Twenty Pence Inn had stood was now posh "executive style" houses.

 On the other side of the bridge sat the attractive cottage we'd passed in Patience so often.

 Then squeezing through another locked gate, marked Public Path, I made my way into the marina itself, where a lady in floral wellies was scrubbing the roof of her cruiser. She seemed happy with the marina, announcing it to be simple and quiet with no facilities. I agree. She'd heard the "rumour" that it had been sold but knew no more and I think didn't believe it.

 I can only refer her to the auction page of Allsop's Auctioneers where the site appears to have sold for a princely £210k.
So is it just a rumour? Does the owner want to keep the sale quiet or does he just want to keep the marina quiet (no fancy website for this marina which can't even spell the river Ouse!) Will there be a fuss as there has been at the Fish and Duck? Or will it be a quiet and positive change as at Stretham Ferry Marina?
I don't know, but if I made out the faded poster on the reception window correctly, you could email Alan G Humphreys or Alan at Twenty Pence and ask him yourself. It is - and could continue to be - a really nice peaceful place.