The best things always seem to come as a surprise, chance encounters when you are least expecting them.
I have cruised past Teddesley Marina literally dozens of times and cast admiring glances at Lady Hatherton, a venerable old inspection launch which spends most of her time hunkered down under a permanent corrugated iron shed. In all the time I have been out and about I have never seen her on the move, till today.
As I descended the locks at Etruria a guy came puffing up and was busy setting the locks ready for an uphill boat. I looked at the chap working his boat up and politely asked "is he with you"? "No, came the reply, he is from the boat behind who is in a tearing hurry and seems desperate to get through the tunnel (Harecastle) tonight."
I therefore was curious about the boat in a hurry. Imagine my surprise when I spied the distinctive bows of the antique wooden inspection launch approaching in the distance. Lady Hatherton was built in 1898 for the committee of the Staffs and Worcester Canal Co, and till the 1930's was horse drawn. She is now diesel powered by a Lister SR3 having had her hull replaced by the late Les Allen of Oldbury in the 1960's and her superstructure replaced in 1985. I am assured that a lot of the original remains, but it does beg the question "when does a wooden boat cease to be an original". Its a bit like Trigger (Only Fools and Horses) and his 2O year old broom - complete with its five new heads and four handles!
The boat is in the hands of Hal and Suzi Bagot these days but as with most wooden boats, she is in need of major work again and her future is uncertain.
It was certainly a joy to see her out and about.