Ian Lindsay was looking for a change of direction when he took on Lechlade Marina. “I’d been to the Royal Agricultural College and spent my career as a rural chartered surveyor. I’d worked for the National Trust for a bit and had loved managing rural property,” he said.
Ian was working as a consultant when the idea of managing a marina began to take shape, and after looking at several businesses he bought Lechlade Marina in 2018, a marina with a lot of practical and financial problems. The facilities were past their best and the cables and services crossing the site were a mess. However, Ian could see the potential and took on the challenge.
The marina was completely overgrown and covered in junk, so Ian brought in tree surgeons, skips and builders. The site was rewired, new toilet, shower and office blocks were built and several derelict fibreglass cruisers were crushed and their remains removed.
All the boat owners now have a patch of grass in front of their boats. Several owners have grandchildren so they have somewhere to play, and Ian is keen to highlight the site’s rural character. The marina had not been conventionally beautiful and neighbour relations were a mixed bag, so Ian was keen to keep people informed about improvements and, where possible, to invite them to see what was being done – not always easy with lockdown after lockdown.
There are a few boat owners who come to the marina as visitors, while those on site are a mix of residential and non-residential owners – ranging from carers, to university lecturers to security guards. Some but not all are older. The types of boats are changing too, with a move away from small weekend cruisers towards high-end narrowboats and an increase in wide beams as well.
Improvements to the site are ongoing, the marina is full and there is now a very long waiting list. Ian has “hugely enjoyed” becoming a first-time marina operator. “It’s about people. Unlike many businesses this is all very personal”, he said.