"We sell a lot of chimneys online, but here in the shop the most sold item is Elsan Blue, without a shadow of a doubt! It's our biggest seller!
We run Limekiln Chandlery from Stourport Basins in this historic building that we rent from Canal & River Trust, and we have a dry dock and 56 moorings in the marina here too, so we're always busy!
It's a family business. I do the shop with help from my daughter, Sam, and Dave does the yard. We've been here in Stourport for nine years, but have had our chandlery about 20 years and the whole family have been in the boat business for around 30 years!
Dave has always been into boats and lived by the canal, so that's how he decided to spend his life working with boats... and I've inherited it! Before we started our business, Dave and I both worked full time at the MEB (Midlands Electricity Board) and that's where we met. Dave wanted a boat, but because we couldn't afford to buy one he decided he'd build one. We rented some land and went down to the yard after work every night, working on the boat until late... when you're young you can do that. We lived on our boat until Sam was born 26 years ago.
When we started our first chandlery in Compton, on the Staffs & Worcs Canal, we chose the name Limekiln Chandlers because we'd been building boats at Limekiln Wharf and wanted to keep Limekiln in the business name. After working alongside Dave for so many years I could build a boat all by myself, and I think my knowledge has been crucial in making Limekiln Chandlers all it is today. I'm able to give expert advice to customers on anything from push-fit plumbing to anodes.
At the moment, even though the boat business is becoming quieter with the changing season, we're still incredibly busy because we're preparing six luxury apartments for sale (through www.leisureandlettings.co.uk) that we've built on the site of our first chandlery in Compton Wharf near Wolverhampton. The sale of these apartments is part of our plans towards our retirement from the family business - but I must say I don't think I could ever fully retire and do absolutely nothing with my days!
We've got a third share in a holiday narrowboat now with some friends. We thought it might be a bit like a busman's holiday when we decided to cruise the Avon Ring this summer, but it wasn't - we loved getting out on the water!"
Carol, Stourport-on-Severn, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal