I seem to have come full circle. I was brought up in the village of Whilton in Northamptonshire and now here I am again working at the marina.
Whilton Marina has been looking after, buying and selling narrowboats for 47 years, since 1971, so it’s an important part of the village. It was built on a site that was used as a cricket ground, between the canal and the railway. I used to come here as a boy and spent many hours in and around the marina looking at the boats. I never thought I would end up working here selling boats to people who have their own dreams. It’s always gives me a real sense of satisfaction to be able to wave someone off on the start of their new canal life adventure.
We pride ourselves on being one of the largest brokers on the entire canal network. Alongside Whilton, we also sell boats from our sister company, Venetian Marina, which we bought seven years ago. Venetian Marina also has 150 moorings on the Shropshire Union Canal (Middlewich Branch) near Nantwich in Cheshire. Here at Whilton, we sell around 250 boats a year so at any one time there are at least 50 boats here for people to come and choose from. The marina also has moorings for 200 narrowboats so it’s always a busy place.
During last summer, the marina was a hive of activity, building a new 9,000 square foot workshop for surveys, maintenance and repairs, with a new wharf and brand new Wise 40-tonne motorised hoist crane. To name the new hoist, we ran a competition at the latest Crick Boat Show, and the winner was Hercules, appropriately. Hercules will be used to lift narrowboats or widebeam boats into the workshop for blacking or repairs. It has four-wheel steering and is capable of lifting 40 tonnes and boats up to 72ft long x 12ft wide.
When I joined Whilton Marina as their sales manager in 2017, I’d just spent ten years working in auto sales selling sports cars... so it’s been quite a change going from high-speed performance cars to slow-speed narrowboats.
Harvey, Whilton Marina, Grand Union Canal