Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
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This article More than a Mooring - Hanbury Wharf is the copyright of Jim Shead - The fifteenth of a regular series of articles on marinas and boatyards. First published in Waterways World December 2004.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century Hanbury Wharf, situated on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, was a transhipment point for goods to be taken by land to Droitwich. When the Droitwich Junction Canal was opened in 1853 it became a busy commercial wharf at the junction of the two canals. The wharf still has a short arm that was used to unload coal and other goods and is now used to display boats for sale.
The site was owned by British Waterways after nationalization of the canals and was at one time a Lady Line base where they built cruisers. After that another boat builder operated from there before Jan Brice took it over in the mid 1980s and ran the business as Saraband. The present main building was constructed in the 1950s before Saraband owned the site.
In 1993 Chris Hill and his father, Roger, bought Hanbury Wharf and still jointly own the site. There are mooring spaces for around 40 boats, dependent upon length, and a large workshop and chandlery. Initially Chris owned a company building bespoke boats here alongside a brokerage business, but he soon decided that bespoke building was not the area he wanted to concentrate on and re-arranged the site to split the one large workshop into several smaller units which could be rented out.
The main business operating from Hanbury Wharf is The New Boat Co. which Chris set up in 2000. The New Boat Co. offers wide and narrow beam boats from sailaways to fit out yourself through to fully fitted boats. These are all production boats so customers have set choices such as stern type, colours, engines etc. much as you would have when buying a car, but the overall designs are standard. There are a number of demo boats available to view and The New Boat Co. sells over 250 boats a year. They are also the sole UK distributor for Aqualine boats which are built in Poland. Chris Hill's wife Gemma also takes an active part in the business particularly the sales and marketing aspects.
There are several separate businesses that operate from the wharf including the Narrowboat Joinery Company and Bits and Fits both high quality bespoke boat fitters. Many customers buying the part-fitted boats use the services these boat fitters, especially if they have requirements which are not met by the New Boat Co. standard fully fitted boat layouts.
Other businesses here are: Hanbury Wharf Marine Services, a marine engineer who also does plumbing, electrics and engine maintenance; Furniture by Reynolds, a french polisher and seller of both boat and household furniture and the Boat Supply Co. which runs the chandlery selling diesel and gas (but no pump-out is available) and all the usual items as well as providing tea, coffee, sandwiches etc.
The brokerage side of the business that until recently was known as Hanbury Brokerage Services has recently been renamed The Used Boat Co. and there are a selection of boats for sale available to view at the wharf. Due to the high number of demonstration and brokerage boats at Hanbury Wharf there are not many moorings available as most are used in the sales operations. Although there are no visitor moorings on the wharf there are a number of BW moorings opposite, next to the popular Eagle and Sun pub.
Hanbury Wharf has a large crane and can arrange for people's boats to be craned in or out and transported to different marinas. Facilities for blacking, and other tasks requiring boats to be on hard-standing, are limited due to the high volume of boat deliveries to and from the wharf .
Additions and corrections kindly supplied by Graham W Cope, July 2014
I just thought you would like the correct information and possibly amend. ladyline was spelt Ladyline and not lady Line. Jeffrey Swain sold it to Ladyline and ladyline never build boats. Ladyline sold boats, mainly Norman, Burland, Nauticus, Dawncraft, and Shetlands. We did fit inboard and outboard engines and at the time Hanbury was the dedicated transporter of the larger 32 feet and 29 feet wide beam Normans.
Hanbury was Ladyline,s 3rd branch to open, and the Showroom was built with full slidding front doors by Atcost. Oh, before we built the slipway, we used to drop 32 feet Normans straight off a trailer over the wharf.Graham W Cope
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