Piper Boat Owners' Club A club open to anyone who owns a Piper-built boat

Updated Dec 20012 (click here for footnote)
Diary of a holiday with IML 1979

March 22nd

I had a letter today, saying that our holiday on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal may have to be cancelled, as the boat is behind schedule in its construction.  I rang around six or seven other boatyards, trying to get a booking, with no success.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

April 14th

We arrived at Bank Newton a little early, so we had a short walk before going to the yard.  We boarded after 4 pm and were delighted with the boat.  She is panelled with beautiful wood finish. We went up a few locks and moored amongst the hills.  It was a beautiful evening with a misty sun sinking.  The children were very excited to be together.


April 15th

Inland Marine Leisure was a high class hire firm which operated from the 1970s from Bank Newton on the Leeds and Liverpool canal and Worsley on the Bridgewater canal.  The firm aimed to provide a quality product: “Our boats are more akin to floating luxury hotels.”  Their 1980 brochure states:

"Whilst the interior layout and final finishing touches outside are of our own design and manufacture, the basic steelwork and marine engineering is undertaken for us by David Piper (Boatbuilders) of Church Lawton near Stoke on Trent".

Continued on separate page, click here


We made quite an early start, with so many young early-risers (5).  We are very pleased with the manoeuvaribility of the boat and she has excellent ‘brakes’.  We went to take water at Salterforth, where Roger fell into the canal!  He had been
walking along the gunnel and fell when the boat moved.  Pat yanked him out from
where he was treading water!  The boys had a muddy game at dinner time and then we went on through Nelson and the Lancashire cotton country.  There was quite a bit of rubbish in the canal.  Pat shouts “Crud!” and we slide by in neutral.

 April 16th

We met our first three swing bridges, for which we alternated with another
Yorkshire Dales boat.  We went through Blackburn, where all of the paddlegear
was locked up.  This meant that it was very fiddly to operate the locks.  We took
water at the bottom of the flight.  We decided to go on down Johnsons Hillock
locks at the end of the day, when many people were out for a stroll.  I got
soaked several times from the leaky upper gates.  We moored near Chorley,
where there was a lovely woodland area for the children to play in.

 April 17th

We lost a fender on our way up the locks, which will be £2.50.  We nearly lost a
second, but Mark spotted it, caught in the gate.  After that, we tucked the fenders up on the gunnel.  We had lunch at Blackburn and Bronwen took the children to the fair.

 April 18th

The Deepdale passed us while we were having breakfast, but we met her again later.  She had run out of gas and was waiting for help from the yard.  We boiled them a kettle and went off to buy milk for ourselves.  We hit quite a bit of underwater rubbish in the towns, but came to no harm.  We had lunch near to Foulridge tunnel in beautiful sunshine.  When we passed Salterforth, Derek went to look for Pat’s keys, which he had left at the water-point, but they had disappeared.  We moored at Bank Newton, just below the yard.

 April 19th

We set off today in the Yorkshire direction, passing a small zoo at Gargrave, right on the canal bank!  We took on water, which proved to have a peculiar flavour, like iodene.  We then came to a long pound which was peppered with swing bridges.  For some of these we ‘leapfrogged’ with other boats, but it slowed down progress, and some were very heavy.  We moored at Bingley for the night, where we were impressed with the huge five-rise locks which seemed to be much bigger than in the photos.

 April 20th

We started early from Bingley, returning through the section of canal which is so full of swing bridges.  We stopped to buy milk and bread at Silsden, where we visited the canal shop. It was a very windy afternoon and we had a job to hold the boat when waiting for the swing bridges.  We took water at Gargrave and then locked up, to moor two locks below the base at Bank Newton.  The children had a wonderful game rolling in the grass, before bed-time.

 April 21st

We awoke to find that it was pouring with rain, which made our get-away rather difficult. We had to keep the children on board until they could sit in the cars to wait. 

Update December 2012

We holidayed on Ennerdale in her first season.  At 59ft she was the biggest boat we’d built and we’d been so busy building boats and generally getting the business up and running that we hadn’t actually had any sort of holiday, never mind a canal one, for quite some time.

Having seen Ennerdale safely off on her way for completion by Yorkshire Dales, I phoned Susan Binns and asked if we could book a week fairly early on in the next season.

We weren’t doing a great many fully fitted boats at the time and it was so nice to arrive to a fully fitted and complete boat, immaculately presented and with a welcome bunch of flowers and “Have a good holiday” note.  Andy and Simon were just 9 at the time and Tim was 4. They had the usual “behave yourself and no going outside without a lifejacket” lecture and Tim was told to stay inside the boat whilst we were given our “handing over” instructions.

I think Ennerdale was one of the first boats to be fitted with more than one toilet and there was an arrangement involving a macerator which macerated and pumped the waste from the second loo to the main tank.  While we were busy Tim had been very quiet, but when we tied up after the first couple of locks and went inside he complained he’d lost his new dinky car – it was a tractor actually, with lots of sticky out bits – and guess where he’s lost it! It just went down the loo apparently, as toys do!  One advantage of having built the boat is that at least you understand the plumbing and thankfully David sorted it with no harm done.

We had a really pleasant week, only going down as far as Bingley before turning and coming back up beyond Bank Newton and up as far as Foulridge Tunnel and backl. We spent a couple of days in Skipton, which we love. It revived our interest in boating and by the end of the summer we’d bought “Kit Carew” – an oak and elm cruiser built by Len Walton.  Not a Piper yet, but getting there.

Dot Piper (December 2012)


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Page created 5th July 2004, last updated 20 June 2013