This week I came within a whisker of buying a boat, but have reluctantly decided, in the cold light of day, not to. The boat in question was Friday
, as showcased
by Andrew Denny. I went to see it on Monday.
Although time is on my side - I'm not due for retirement for another eight years - and I have a certain amount of money set aside for The Boat, Jan and I decided that it wasn't really what we wanted. One of the things which attracted me was the history of the boat: it was built of wood in 1970 by a boatyard which up to that time had made only working boats. This, apparently, was one of just three pleasure boats by Peter Keay & son of Walsall. As Andrew has said, this was at the start of the revival of the waterways, the beginning of the boom in pleasure boating.
Even now, rereading Andrew's post, I wonder if I've done the right thing. How good it would be to restore the boat, to see it once again proudly linking the wooden working boat past with the modern steel pleasure narrowboats of today. I do hope the person who buys Friday
will have the money and the inclination to do the work, and not, as Andrew, Robert (Mercia Marina
manager) and John (the owner) fear, let it slip further into decay and lower into the water.
John, the boat's owner, told me that he did the interior fitout himself after removing the original. A mechanical engineer, he drew up plans, constructed the fittings "on the towpath", and installed them on the boat. Everything fitted perfectly, he said, and thirty years later it still fits perfectly and is in excellent condition (if you ignore the dirt).
And this presents a problem for any future restorer: whether to retain the quality 1980 fitout, or to try to recreate the original interior. John told me that he thought he might still have somewhere the original 1970 drawings, which would be invaluable in such a restoration.fore cabin built by the present owner to house a generator: cooling fans vent directly to the mushrooms
Useful though such a well-installed genset is, that forecabin would have to go. It hides the beautiful split front doors, with their tiny portholes; and obscures a view forward from inside.
I could have been Friday
's saviour, but I have now passed up that opportunity. Have I done the right thing?