Opened in 1790, Tooley’s Boatyard is believed to be the oldest continuously working dry dock in Britain. Now swamped by the Castle Quay shopping centre, its survival is remarkable.
Its main claim to fame is the mention in Tom Rolt’s landmark book “Narrow Boat”. The canal champion purchased an old “butty” (unpowered working boat that was paired with a similar motor boat). He brought it to Tooley’s Boatyard, where it spent 3 months being made into a liveaboard boat, and had an engine fitted.
The yard was operational until 1995, when it was threatened by the Castle Quay development. Although it has survived, it has paid a heavy price. On the outside it looks far from historic, and one is only left to imagine what the area would have looked like when it was fully operational.
However, it continues to operate much as before, by a private company in trust. The general public are welcome to visit during opening hours, and learn something of the history of the site, which includes a 200 year old forge and belt-driven workshop.
The dry dock has also played host to theatrical performances. The travelling Mikron Theatre Company have performed here on more than one occasion.
The green boat on the right, “Sonflower”, belongs to some friends of ours. It is due to go into Tooley’s Boatyard for some work. We were blessed by a a short break and a couple of holidays on this boat before we had one of our own.
www.tooleysboatyard.co.uk/history – Compare the photo here to the one above!
tooleysboatyard.blogspot.co.uk – Theatre in the Dry Dock!
- Taken: 1 Apr 2017
- Camera: Canon 5D MkIII
- Lens: Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8 L II USM
- Focal Length 70mm
- 1/125 Sec
- ISO 100