Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Top 100 Sites
This article More than a Mooring - Harefield Marina is the copyright of Jim Shead - The sixth of a regular series of articles on marinas and boatyards. First published in Waterways World March 2004.
The Grand Union Canal between Uxbridge and Rickmansworth runs alongside many lakes and other stretches of open water resulting from mineral extraction in past years. In places, just below Widewater Lock, the bank between the canal and one of these lakes has completely disappeared and through the gaps we can see scores of boats moored in Harefield Marina. Although some of these gaps seem quite wide it is not advisable to try to take a short cut into the marina. The marina entrance is immediately below the lock and opposite the canalside Horse & Barge pub. The diesel pump, gas and pumpout services are just inside the wide opening into the marina thus giving easy access to the passing boater.
A marina operated here in the fifties and early sixties when most of the boats in use were wooden. After then the owner seemed to have lost interest and the site was in a run down state during the sixties and seventies. In 1985 Mike Musk and his son Philip took over the marina and their first task was to clear out the many wrecks of old timber boats.
The Musk family started their boating on the River Thames and moored their cruiser at Penton Hook. Mike Musk went into the boating business in about 1976 when he took over the services, fuel pumps and chandlery part of Windsor Marina on the Thames. The moorings there were run by someone else. In 1985 when they acquired Harefield Marina they were still running the business at Windsor and continued to run the two places together until about 1986 when they decided to concentrate on Harefield, which had more potential and was nearer the family home at Kings Langley.
The marina now has 250 mooring spaces which they let out as leisure moorings rather than residential. Eighty percent of these are occupied by narrowboats and the rest by cruisers. The business employs six people, three of whom are full time, including Philip who is one of the directors. The other director, his father Mike, is part-time as are two more staff. They have a chandlery shop and are main agents for Honda outboard engines. There is a crane to lift boats up to 30 feet long and a slipway taking boats up to 65 feet in length. Additionally there is a wet dock that is, like the slipway, booked in weekly periods for DIY work. They offer servicing and repairs but not major steelwork and their callout service is available to berth holders only. Harefield Marina boat sales and brokerage service is advertised in the major waterways magazines as well as on their own website. A lot of the work is in maintaining the grounds, bank side and pontoons of this large site but they are also finding time to add new moorings to the existing water space.
Looking over the wide expanse of water fringed by trees and open spaces it is easy to understand why so many boaters are attracted to moorings in these rural surroundings within London's M25 ring.
Return to the main Articles Listing page