All hands on deck for Anglo Welsh’s winter maintenance
Midwinter calm may reign on the nation’s waterways but behind the scenes at Anglo Welsh it’s all hands on deck as our fleet of 160 narrowboats undergo their annual makeover – ranging from major refurbishing and mechanical services to minor maintenance and cosmetic TLC.
The winter maintenance process at our eleven bases across England and Wales starts in November as trees shed their final leaves and continues right through to March as the dawn chorus springs into song. Jonathan Nowell, Anglo Welsh’s base manager at Tardebigge in Worcester, took a break from his maintenance chores to provide an overview of the nationwide refurbishment programme.
“The Anglo Welsh fleet has a diverse variety of narrowboats,” says Jonathan, “but whether it’s a luxury 12-berth Constellation Class or a cosy two-berth, they all go through the same well-tested maintenance process to make sure they are mechanically sound and immaculately presented for the new season.”
“We begin by draining the water tanks and blowing the water out of the water system to prevent winter freezing. Then all electrical items are removed and electrics isolated. As you would expect, the engine on every Anglo Welsh boat gets a thorough service – that involves straightforward tasks like changing oil and filters to bigger jobs like checking the rudder bearings and cleaning the bottom of the diesel tank.”
“When it comes to dry docking, work can involve replacing stern gears, propellers, and hull blacking. Anglo Welsh also does private work at our bases with covered dry docks like the one here at Tardebigge. We offer boat owners professional painting, engine servicing/replacements, welding, hull blacking, gas/diesel pump outs, electric works, plumbing, stern gear repairs, and gas works.”
“People who hire Anglo Welsh narrowboats rightly expect handsome, well-equipped boats for their canal holiday, so the winter maintenance is as much about creature comforts as the technical stuff. Sometimes we do a full repaint of the cabin, decks, roof and doorways, and vent holes. If a boat needs stripping back to steel, the painting alone can take up to 12 days!”
“Below deck, we’ll install new cookers, fridges, carpets, curtains, upholstery or mattresses where needed, and we’ll replace damaged cabin panels, doors, trims and steps. Not forgetting the all-important gas safety checks by our gas accredited engineers.
Last but not least, is the deep cleaning – washing curtains, bedding and upholstery; hoovering carpets, cleaning windows and shining the cutlery. It’s a bit like spring cleaning the house before guests arrive!”
In a nutshell, Anglo Welsh’s maintenance team does all the hard work in winter so you can enjoy a relaxing canal holiday on a comfortable narrowboat that is fine-tuned on the inside and spick and span on the outside.