In 1948 Rendel and Jean Wyatt’s vision of ‘History and Heritage for all’ was borne in the guise of Family Canal boat holidays. They worked tirelessly with the likes of Rolt and Ackerman to renew interest in the canal system. Their initial fleet comprised of Mancunion, Angela, Thomas Telford, James Brindley, Heron, Venturer and Elsa Craig. They were all shapes and sizes, for example Mancunion started life as a fire fighting boat on the Manchester Ship Canal. Angela and James Brindley were an old wooden working boat cut into two. Venturer old working boat, Elsa Craig and Heron we purpose built centre well wooden boats. On the early boats facilities were basic, Milk was fetched by hirers from local farms on route in a milk flask, Toilets were a bucket, shovel then a local hedge row, Petrol was ration books and cans. No TV’s/radios, limited heating, the fridge was a plaster of Paris ‘O So Cool’ box with a door (water had to be poured in the top which then drained through to an aluminum insert which kept food cool, an early version of a cool box) but they had hot water. Every one wore hats, jackets and ties. Naming a boat is tricky, to start with Rendel and Jean went with a canal theme, then Nordic Queens i.e. Boudicea. When Rendel’s Son David joined the firm (early 50’s), he and Mino (wife) started to use a Wyatt Family Tree which dates back to the 1300’s. From this we had Benadicta, Erminelda, Martine , Dorothy Grace and Elizabeth Grace. As time progressed the boats changed from wooden to metal hulls. Customers’ expectations of equipment, standards, also all changed. No longer could the hire boats be a camping adventure it had to be more a home from home. Gradually from the 1980’s When Peter (David and Mino’s eldest Son) & I joined the company, we have slowly improved our fleet, giving them a more homely or personal feel. So we now have our modern fleet of 14 boats with slightly different comfort levels. The Ginger class was created in the 90’s. Our Children Kimberley and Dominic are both red heads so on the family tree the name ‘Lucy Ginger’ was spotted.
This name was chosen by Kimberley at the age of 7 when Lucy was built, Kimberley then launched/christened her with a bottle of champagne (we didn’t waste the bubbly, we drank the Champagne and filled the bottle with washing up liquid/lemonade – works just the same).