After despatching our March newsletter full of hope for spring sunshine, the snow started to fall outside my study window. Fortunately this was just a fluky moment and we now appear to be back on track for a sunny bank holiday weekend.
Back at the yard life has been crazy with everyone beavering away full of energy and determination.
At HSC in its 30th year we are delighted to welcome onboard a few new faces, including Charlie, resplendent in a red boiler suit. In case you are wondering what she is holding, it is not a trident but a clamp which Ellie has been using with the rather complicated rebuild of the entire superstructure of 'Thames Kestrel', a small cabin launch.
After working for Pure Boating last summer, Alex stayed with us over the winter and has become an invaluable member of the boatyard team.
Depending on which day you visit, you may be lucky enough to be offered a slice of Alex’s weekly homemade cake to accompany your cuppa.
Gail is still in touch and clearly missing the day to day contact with our regular customers. However, her days are very full as she listens to lectures, reads books, and writes essays on a number of fascinating subjects.
I managed to lure her away one lunchtime on my way through Maidenhead and, as luck would have it, we ended up eating at Coppa by the newly built canal in the centre of town. Whoever is doing the interior design for Coppa Club seems to have the right approach to creating intimacy, comfort and an inviting sense of relaxation, with each location having its own signature ambience.
The photo above shows three men in a flimsy workboat installing a jetty, presumably to encourage people to come by boat and dine.
Eric joined our team from a career in IT, initially working with Henley Technical Services and now also with us at Henley Sales & Charter. Judging by the smile on his face, he appears to be loving his new boating life.
Back in Henley, Regine joins us as Chief Administrator. In her youth, growing up near the sea, she was a passionate sailor. Regine studied for both her degree and her MBA in the UK, having migrated across The Channel from her native Le Havre (France).
Thrilled to get stuck into her new role with us, she joined Pure Boating's most recent recruits for some training the week before Easter when Olivia and David, both long term summer employees of Pure Boating, imparted their knowledge.
As Pure Boating will be operating seven days a week from three locations (Wallingford, Moulsford and Streatley) this year, we needed to increase staff numbers to be able to cover shifts comfortably.
We purchased four new boats to create a new fleet there, and as part of our marketing drive, we did a photoshoot last week starring our boats.
The sky was somewhat grey, but undeterred we also put together this snappy little video presenting ‘Sapphire Rose’ on location.
Both boats are available for skippered charter and can be booked online as an alternative to our self-drive options if you feel like sitting back and letting someone else take the helm while you enjoy the view.
If you haven't seen our new website yet, then do visit https://pureboating.co.uk.
At the first attempt, our friend and fellow classic boat enthusiast Adam Toop failed to get his plans for a boatyard and riverside home for the Rose-Toop Collection approved by Wokingham District Council. I and many others wrote letters of support and would urge you to join us in adding a voice to his second attempt. We really cannot afford to lose any more boatyards or opportunities to safeguard our river and boat building heritage.
In addition to the boathouse itself, there will be a limited number of moorings for boats considered by Adam and Penny (Rose) to be of historic and aesthetic value.
Adam writes, 'While the circumstances surrounding the refusal of our planning application last December were extremely disappointing, it was truly humbling to receive so many kind calls, letters and emails of support. I owe a debt of gratitude to so many.
I am very pleased to report that we have now amended the proposals, fully responding to all the stated reasons for refusal and reflecting the planning officer’s requirements. A headline summary of the key amendments includes:
Although the workshop extension would marginally increase the footprint of development on the site, if approved, the total footprint of buildings would still be reduced relative to the footprint of buildings that existed before the fire in 2004. Moreover, from a volumetric perspective, the cumulative volume of the proposed ground floor and first floor extensions, as previously proposed, would increase the total volume of the building by just 11.7%.'
'With these issues addressed, I very much hope that the revised plans and accompanying information submitted with the current application will enable the Council’s objections to be removed. Given the significant level of support and local interest there was in the original application (120+ letters of support and no objections) it is also my sincere hope that Councillors will be willing to ‘call-in’ the application for Committee consideration by elected Members just in case the planning officer is still minded to object to the scheme and looks again to refuse the application under delegated authority.'
'Finally, as I am by no means an expert on such matters, I was surprised to learn that all the kind letters of support for the first application are not retained or carried forward on the planning portal when resubmitting proposals. Letters of support would therefore be hugely appreciated under the new application number 220987 that may be found at the following link.
Thank goodness some people have got the imagination and, in this case, determination to pursue their dream.
Further downstream from Henley on the River Thames I came upon another visionary project in Lower Sunbury.
Hidden behind a walled garden just a few steps from the river, you can find the Sunbury Embroidery Gallery, which became the permanent home of the Sunbury Millennium Embroidery. Like any good gallery or museum it has an excellent café. This award-winning gallery is a real unexpected gem that is a delight whether you are interested in stitching or not.
I note on the website that they are planning Jubilee celebrations on Saturday the 4th of June, which encompass the gallery, the walled garden and a parade of Jubilee dressed boats on the River Thames.
Do visit the website and take a look at the plans to build an exciting new exhibition gallery and workshop space.
Let’s hope Wokingham has the foresight to encourage the siting of the Rose-Toop Collection in the same way as Spelthorne Council has supported this national centre for embroidery.
If you want something a bit more active, you could visit Henley’s newest visitor attraction Henley Adventure Golf.
The Recreation & Amenities Committee of Henley Town Council has recently revealed to the world its ambitious ‘crazy’ golf project within the Mill Meadows area right by the public moorings.
One of our counsellors, and chair of the putting green working group, says that one of the aims of the course was to show off the best bits of Henley “from our built heritage to our cultural and sporting history in a light-hearted and engaging way.” If you want a sneak peek, have a look at the video below.
If you are more of a reader than a sports fan, why not visit the London Bookbarge 'Word on the Water'. It's a hop, skip and a jump from King's Cross and St Pancras station, moored along Regent's Canal towpath.
A gentle stroll along London's waterways to this bookshop on a 100-year-old Dutch barge offers a welcome respite from the general noise and hubbub of the great metropolis.
'Word on the Water' sells not only quality second hand and new books but also quirky stuff that you would never think to look for but may be very pleased to find. Featuring a wood-burning stove and the occasional poetry slam, reading and live acoustic music, this London Bookbarge sure is one of a kind.
I will be heading east for the bi-annual post covid Horning Boat Show this coming weekend. This is a fairly local event, but with so many companies depending for their livelihood on boatbuilding and restoration as well as boating holidays, I have no doubt that the show will be well supported.
One of our customers has kindly agreed to let me show off their PTS 26 named ‘Gosling’. So she will be coming with us to the show.
When we launched her 3 or 4 years ago on a freezing cold December morning, it was so cold that we could scrape the ice off the dock to cool our champagne. I am hoping for better weather this coming weekend.
Sales activity has been lively despite gloomy headlines. A number of boats have found happy new owners, and we look forward to hearing about their adventures this coming summer.
New boats are being listed weekly, including the latest offering, which is a contemporary classic named ‘Obedient Lady’. I (obviously) struggled with the name but reconciled myself to her ladyship thanks to her smart wooden decks and exceptionally spacious interior. She is only 5 mins away from my desk in Henley, so spontaneous viewings may be an option.
In most cases though, please book your viewings well in advance as my diary for May is filling up rapidly.
Being a broker is an exercise in diplomacy as the broker is squeezed between the vendor and the purchaser. Many of today’s brokerage services are mere shop windows, with the broker doing very little to facilitate the sale other than pasting up a few photos. It is true that in some cases we are required to do very little as some deals just slot into place. Most of the time however, viewings are abundant, paperwork plentiful, negotiations protracted, and we walk along a fairly taut tightrope to get the desired result for all parties involved. Over 30 years I have honed my skills and yet unfortunately I sometimes fail to satisfy one or the other party. I guess you can't win them all.
On the flip side, receiving positive feedback from vendors (I am glad to say that we do get plenty of that) and seeing how happy our customers are on their newly purchased boats make this job most enjoyable.
The photo above shows the happy owner of 'Mouse' having picked up their boat from winter storage with us.
Like all good businesses we are the sum of our parts, which in our case means the team at HSC who have been working tirelessly in recent weeks to get customers boats ready for the season and out in a timely fashion.
Note: If you like the look of 'Mouse', we have another Scandinavian classic 'Virgo', which has just appeared for sale on our website and will be coming to the yard shortly from its current home on the Isle of Wight.