Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
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This article More than a Mooring - Streethay Wharf is the copyright of Jim Shead - The second of a regular series of articles on marinas and boatyards. First published in Waterways World November 2003.
Situated on the Coventry Canal just two miles from the centre of historic Litchfield is Streethay Wharf where every type of boating need is served from the smallest item of chandlery to the supply of a fully fitted luxury narrowboat. To the passing boater this may look like a boatyard that has been operating as long as anyone can remember but this is not the case. The business was set up by Ray and Pat Bowern who 11 years ago took over a derelict site, renovated the buildings, built the house and have since added more and more facilities.
Ray started as a farmer and then became a boat transporter, starting with small boats and gradually increasing the business over a period of 30 years. Boat transport still forms an important part of the work covering the UK and anywhere in Europe. The majority of the transport work is for narrowboats, wide-beam and Dutch barges. Since acquiring the site the business has been steadily expanded and now employs about 15 people who between them offer a comprehensive range of services including 7-days a week call-out, chandlery, two day-hire boats, craning, slipping, upholstery, cratch covers, grocery shop, launderette and showers.
Six years ago they added a new slipway and wet dock and built new moorings for about 65 boats. This was done by purchasing land from a local farmer so that the canal could be widened allowing even the largest boats to be moored end on to the bank and still leaving more than enough room for passing boats. Ray also has moorings at other sites such as the new Kings Bromley Marina where he provides 165 moorings in partnership with Land & Water Services of Surrey and where between 80 and 100 extra moorings will soon be available. He also has moorings at the old basin Horninglow, Burton-on-Trent and has further indulged his taste for renovating old buildings with the derelict old mill at Market Drayton. This has been converted into three luxury flats and a teashop. Two other boatyards, which are leased out, also operate on this site.
At Streethay they provide a full range of boat building services, most of the new boat work is high quality individual fit-outs and much of it for live aboard boaters. The steel hulls are built in Birmingham exclusively for Streethay Wharf by John Horton an independent boat builder, who used to work for Les Allen at Oldbury before Les retired. John still builds hulls in the same Les Allen style with keelson and 12 mm bottoms. The hulls then come to Streethay where they are fitted out and painted.
If you want to give your old boat a new lease of life they can stretch it and match the new section in both fitting-out and painting. Many older boats come in for over-plating and other restoration work is undertaken. Gas and electrical work as well as both Mikuni and Eberspacher diesel heating installation are all part of the comprehensive range of services on offer. Another speciality is the supply and fitting of Kabola and Lockgate diesel stoves to new or existing boats, where they can be retrofitted with extra fuel tanks provided when required. Bow-thrusters are another speciality including fitting hydraulic systems onto old and new engines. They also have their own design of bow thrusters weed hatch that allows the bow thrusters to be removed without slipping the boat.
Added to all this there is a breakdown service, crane out of cruisers, blacking and DIY blacking, fitting vintage and new engines and satellite dish fitting so you will see why this is a boatyard that does its best to appeal to everyone. If you are looking for a service I haven't mentioned just have a word with Ray - I would be very surprised if he couldn't provide it.
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