Bates Boatyard and Dry Dock

Wooden Narrowboat Restoration

Vintage Wooden Narrowboats

Much of the work carried out at the yard is on the tail end of the wooden canal boat building era. These would be the transport vessels of their time, with an open hold for the cargo and a small cabin for the crew and latterly an engine at the rear. These boats fell into mainly two categories of butty and motor. Specific boatyards around the country had characteristic design features and Bates Boatyard has many vintage boats as examples to reference restorative work from.
An award winning example of our work is Narrowboat Severn, click for more details.

Wooden Narrowboats for Leisure

Later boats such as Market Harborough/ Waltons and Cruisers that were built for the expanding leisure market on the canals are also an important part of the evolution of wooden boats on our inland waterways and are an equally important part of work at the boatyard.


Although traditional methods are used at the yard in the construction process, where modern techniques are seen to add durability then we have been quick to adapt. This would be particularly in areas such as cabin construction where we have sought to reduce the levels of regular maintenance required.


A large supply of traditional materials are available on site from Oakum through to Coal Tar Products and a variety of shaped crooks and branches. These are always available from the timber in storage at the yard, both in the round and ready planked to two and three inches. An on site bronze casting facility has also been useful for casting custom studs, dollies and other boat parts.


With a modern approach to the restoration process, we believe that the boats that we are restoring now will last longer than they have already, which is saying something, as most are over seventy and some are nearly one hundred years old. They were originally built as a disposable item with a finite working life, so it is to their credit that they have often tripled these expectations. In their pre-restored state are the clues to a reconstruction process that will lead to an even longer life, in a world where their individuality and character will be truly remarkable.

» Traditional Sideslip

Contact J Bates; email:  info (at) Telephone:01296 632017 Mobile:07718 096557