Historic boats leave the Avon for a winter of maintenance

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With winter fast approaching you might be forgiven for thinking businesses like Avon Boating are gearing up for a quiet few months, but maintaining the river’s traditional fleet is no easy task.

last week saw the river’s four traditional passenger boats, named Spray, Mayflower, lotus and Lilly, loaded onto the back of a truck and driven away.

The vessels, which all date between 1910 and 1930 are around 45 feet long and are valuable pieces of Britain’s maritime heritage, as well as a important Stratford attractions.

Nick Birch, owner of Avon Boating, said: “We remove the boats from the river every year because if we left them they would suffer in the weather and we wouldn’t be able to work on them. We have a friendly farmer who lets us rent a large barn over the winter months and we use this time to revarnish, repaint and do whatever other work we need to undertake. It would be nice to think that we make so much money over the summer that we can all go live in a villa in Spain over the winter, but sadly we work very hard on the boats over this time.

“Doing this every year not only enables us to keep these historic vessels in great condition, something we think is very important, but it also enables us to keep on a core of skilled staff here over the winter months carrying out repairs.

“Overall this year has been better than we expected, we were ready to go when we opened in July and the good weather still brought a lot of visitors.”