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Celebrating the changes at Whilton Marina through 5 decades!
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Wed Sep 1, 2021 at 10:48am

Celebrating the changes at Whilton Marina through five decades!

As Whilton Marina celebrates 50 years in Business this year (2021), we thought we'd look at the changes that have happened over those years at the marina.

The Construction

The construction of Whilton Marina began in October 1970 and was completed in May 1971. It was built by David Steele who had a background in construction and civil engineering. The site was just a field which had been used as a cricket ground, with the canal on one side & the railway on the other. Although there was an old farmhouse and some warehouse buildings which had been used by Tate & Lyle sugar company. However David saw the business potential of it's position right next to the canal and decided to build a marina.

It was a bold move to develop a marina on the site. These were the early 1970's and pleasure boating on the canals was in its infancy.

The old farmhouse and stables which can be seen at the bottom centre of this photograph were demolished in 1973 and in it's place 'The Banaventa' licensed premises and restaurant was constructed, see photograph below which shows the Banaventa as it was in the mid to late 1970's, this is now Whilton Locks Carpet Company.

Whilton-Marina-late-1970s

Above is a more recent photograph of Whilton Marina.

Fibreglass Boats

During the 1970's fibre glass river cruisers were constructed at the marina, (notibly the Buckingham range of cruisers) although this only lasted a few years, there were around a hundred built. From 1982 Whilton Marina stopped selling new fibre glass boats as they were no longer in favour on the canals. Increasingly sophisticated narrowboats were being built, offering previously undreamed of levels of comfort, and this brought a different wealthier breed of customer to the waterways. So in 1995 Whilton Marina stopped selling used fibre glass boats. Now the marina only sells steel new and used narrow boats.

Branching Out

We have expanded and diversified our business over the years. In 1988 Whilton Marina purchased a caravan park know as Cosgrove Park, which has undergone an extensive programme of refurbishment & development since then.

In 1995 more land was purchased at the southern boundary of the marina, which was used to create a caravan storage compound for 450 caravans and self storage containers which are available to rent. The storage facility can be seen in one of the photographs below.

On the 1st December 2011 Whilton Marina Ltd purchased Venetian Marina in Nantwich, Cheshire, providing a much-needed base for boat sales in north-west England. Since purchasing Venetian Marina we have made many improvements to the  marina infrastructure, and have installed brand new pontoons with wi-fi and electrics, new narrowboat sales office and chandlery, new moorer's shower block and laundry.  Venetian Marina is one of North-West England’s premier marinas, with around 150 moorings, a selection of narrow boats for sale, workshop, dry dock, chandlery and gift shop.

Improvements

In the 1990's a steel & hardwood (made out of old pier boards) footbridge was commissioned and placed across the marina entrance at Whilton, this bridge can be seen in the photograph below. The original wooden pier boards have since been replaced by specially constructed galvanised steel. 

The marina has been enhanced over the years, many trees were planted on the banks of the marina and areas of landscaping added to soften the edges of the moorers' car park and the office.

Many new facilities have been added over the years; such as the floating dock, the wet dock and the 9,000 sq ft narrowboat refurbishment workshop and Wise boat lifting hoist, (seen during construction in 2018 below) which were the most recent additions in 2018.

Nowadays Whilton Marina has 250 narrowboats moored in it's basin and runs a very successful narrowboat sales and brokerage from the purpose built office.

The caravan storage and container self storage facilities has been awarded the Cassoa Gold security status. The marina is a hive of activity with the two slipways, refurbishment workshop and Wise boat hoist constantly in use for narrowboat hull surveys, and on site welder and engineering staff all kept very busy with maintenance work on the sales and moorers narrow boats.

Help us Celebrate 50 years!

Keep an eye on our social media pages and our website for details of competitions and events that we're going to be holding during the year to help us celebrate 50 golden years of business!

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