The creative play boat project is a five year project funded by the Big Lottery Fund, from its ‘Playful Ideas’ funding stream.
MKPA were awarded the funding, £250,000, in June of last year (2008) and it took a while for the excitement to die down and for us to get on with building the playboat. We visited a number of boat builders, but finally settled on Colecraft Engineering, a well respected family company in Warwickshire.
We chose them, not only because of the reputation for building fine narrowboats, but also because the boat would be built from the starting point of a single sheet of steel, not an imported hull.
The build started just before Christmas and it was a great sight to see that single sheet of steel ready to be cut out into the bottom plate of the boat.
Gradually the shape of the hull took shape. Once the rubbing strips and the cabin were welded on, we were able to get a real feel for the size and character of the boat. It seemed very quickly that the metalwork was completed and the boat had its first coat of paint and was moved outside ready for the ballast and insulation to be fitted.
The next job and probably the most labour intensive was the fitting out. We wanted to have the maximum amount of space inside, so we have confined the fit out to a small galley, a toilet and some lockers, the rest would be open space lined in wood and varnished. The took true craftmanship and this is another point where Colecraft showed their expertise. Their skill in fitting a galley with a fridge, oven, cupboards and workspace to ensure not a millimeter of space went unused was astounding.
Now she really was looking like our playboat. Next she needed her paint job. Most narrowboats are traditionally blue, green, black, but we wanted to be very visible, to stand out from the rest of the boats on the Grand Union, to be seen by the children and for them to know it was the playboat coming.