Spring Watch.

This winter my workshop has been full of repairs and maintenance alongside many survey commissions. Currently, there is a sturdy clinker launch, named “Fearless”, in the workshop for some refinishing and some refinements. She was built a couple of years ago in the Orkney’s by Ian Richardson and is a good example of his practiced eye for clinker planking.

The river has not been behaving and has spent most of the time since Christmas outside its banks, until now. Thanks to the flooding “Larchwood”, a 25ft Andrews slipper, arrival was delayed, but the last week the river has calmed down and today Gareth helped me get her out of the boathouse and up river to the slipway, a gentle early spring trip on a deserted river, nice work if you can get it.

In early winter I had an interesting visitor; Johnny Millar is a portrait photographer who, pre Covid, was working on a huge commission for the National Trust.  That work had dried up with lockdown and he was delving into other areas including people who make things. So I had a pleasant day watching him work, listening to his stories and sharing laughter.

Recently I have been remembering my old friend Bill Rose who died a couple of weeks ago, he had been very poorly for some time, first in a hospital and finally in a local nursing home near his wonderful wife Penny. Over the years Bill had amassed an extraordinary collection of all things Thames and I worked with him on many of the boat projects. Bill and Penny have been great friends to me; they helped me become a Thames boatbuilder, mentoring and sharing their knowledge and understanding. With great foresight Bill linked up with Adam Toop, an equally passionate boat collector, who will continue the work and the wonderful idiosyncrasy Bill brought to his collection. Here is Mike English’s image of “Pierrette” Bill’s steam launch I restored with him in 1996, originally built in 1896 as a fast umpires launch.