Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Top 100 Sites
This article More than a Mooring - Kingfisher Marina is the copyright of Jim Shead - The twenty-seventh of a regular series of articles on marinas and boatyards. First published in Waterways World December 2005.
Although Kingfisher Marina was only opened in the year 2000 the site has probably been serving the canal ever since it was built over two hundred years ago. Old Wharf Farm, which dates back to around 1800, is the main building on the site and in the mid-nineteenth century was the Navigation pub as well as being the farmhouse to a 19 acre farm. The wharf in front of the house has been used for coal and the Pooley cart weighbridge is still in working order, the scales being housed in an addition to the farmhouse.
Situated on the Grand Union Canal, in the attractive countryside between Cosgrove and Stoke Bruerne, Yardley Gobion has seen 200 years of constant canal traffic from the days of commercial traffic to today's pleasure boating. The dry dock was built in about 1985 and has been operated for many years by the Baxter family, at first the father (Keith) but latterly both father and son. At that time the site was owned by John Bowen, who also operated the wharf services.
The building of Kingfisher Marina was brought about by Alan Paine, an optician by profession, who now teaches opticians. Alan had his first canal holiday on a Wyvern Shipping Company hire boat in 1966, was bitten by the bug, and bought his first narrowboat in about 1980. While cruising past Cumberland Basin on the Regent's Canal he found Kingfisher, a Grand Junction Canal Director's Launch built in 1928. Although it was in a run down state he could see the potential of this elegant craft and eventually he managed to buy her. He then started to look for a canalside cottage where he could live and which would provide a covered mooring as a home for Kingfisher. One day he was passing Yardley Gobion on Kingfisher with a group of friends and saw the "For Sale" sign. When it was suggested that this could be the place he was looking for Alan at first rejected it as being far too big but now Kingfisher resides in its own covered dock in the marina.
Alan bought the 7 acre site in 1997 including the house, the dry dock a big field that was to become the marina. The previous owner of the site (John Bowen) had considered making the adjoining 2½ acre field into a marina but decided to leave the task to a younger man. To raise the capital necessary for the project Alan took as his partner Philip Hanwell, another optician. They are now both Directors of Kingfisher Marina Limited. He also arranged to hand over the wharf services to Baxter Boatfitting Services and relocate the pumpout and diesel next to the dry dock rather than have it operate, as it had previously, from the end of his garden.
Although a company was engaged to manage the whole process of design and the building of the marina their performance was not all that was hoped for and there were problems, which centred around a dispute with BW, that were eventually resolved. Construction started in late 1998 and the marina opened in January 2000. By April it was full and has remained so ever since.
Now the marina has moorings for about 60 boats, including approximately 300 foot of canalside linear moorings that predate the building of the marina. When the marina opened there were only 45 mooring spaces but extra pontoons were added later to fill an unused corner near the dry dock. Any further expansion of the marina would require the purchase of more land and there are no plans for this at present.
Kingfisher Marina has moorings with electricity and water available and wet dock facilities can also be arranged. Within the marina Baxter Boatfitting Services operate the wharf (providing water, gas, coal and pumpout) and the dry dock. They also carry out engineering, blacking, boat building and fitting-out.
Return to the main Articles Listing page