by David Piper for Inland Marine Leisure (IML)
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
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.
Piper’s business records confirm that Foxdale and two further cruisers were
built in the same year. Piper expertise is confirmed by an additional
We gain the experience
of a full-time professional builder who specialises in traditional narrow
boats and who is recognised as one of
the country’s top narrow boat builders... Since we are also the
boatbuilder’s largest customer
and we do not make profits on
fitting our own boats, we are in a position to give better value for money to
our hirers than many of our competitors.
The list of boats available for hire in
1980 was as follows:
LINTON CLASS - 31feet
- Crossdale - built 1973 (Worsley)
- Farndale - built 1974 (Worsley)
HETTON CLASS - 43 feet
- Griesdale - built 1976 (Worsley)
- Ryedale - built 1977 (Worsley)
- Kirkdale -built 1977 (Worsley)
- Swandale - built 1978 (Worsley)
- Lonsdale - built 1978 (Bank Newton)
- Coverdale - built 1978 (Bank Newton)
BARDEN CLASS - 45 feet
- Mallowdale - built 1974 (Worsley)
- Arkendale - built 1975 (Bank Newton)
- Westerdale - built 1976 (Worsley)
MARTON CLASS - 56 feet
- Dovedale - built 1978 (Bank Newton)
- Barrondale - built 1979 (Worsley)
- Mossdale - built 1979 (Bank Newton)
- Windale - built 1980 (Bank Newton)
FLASBY CLASS - 59 feet
- Ennerdale - built 1976 (Worsley)
- Deedale - built 1978 (Worsley)
- Dentdale - built 1979 (Bank Newton)
- Foxdale - built 1980 (Bank Newton)
The Barden Class was described as: A
superb class of boat for up to six people. Ideal for 2 family cruising.
Its specification was as follows:
INTERIOR WOODWORK: Teak veneer (pine
ceiling) melamine in galley, etc.
TYPE OF DINETTE: Raised to give eye level
view through windows when seated.
SHOWER: Standard domestic shower fitted.
WATER HEATER: Multi-point automatic water
heater supplying vanitory unit,
sink and shower.
TOILET: Flushing ‘pump-out’ type (as
in modern aircraft)
COOKER: Newholme Corvette (4 rings), oven,
In 1980, a Barden class boat cost £186 to
hire for the first week of the season, rising to £426 for the peak weeks in
Some interior photos from IML brochure
Inland Marine Leisure was a
family run firm, where the owners played an active part in the day-to-day
operation. They were proud that over half of their customers had
holidayed with them before, or came after recommendation by friends.
IML proprietors, Tony
and Susan Binns, originally lived in the Bingley area and ran some hire boats
from a temporary base above the locks. In the early seventies they moved
to Bank Newton and set up their boatyard, as previously
The Binns ran a good business and gave
friendly and reliable service to their customers. They insisted that
there should be at least three adults on each boat and
they gave a very thorough boat demonstration to their customers on arrival.
IML boats were subject
to regular and thorough preventative maintenance: eg. a
‘wear edge’ was put on a hull before bad wear had taken place. On
there was a regular barbeque for customers at Bank Newton. This served
purposes: it was friendly and fun for the customers and it also ensured that
boats were returned on time! The business was a success because Tony and
were so involved in it. (See diary account below for a trip in Dentdale)
A second base was subsequently purchased
at Worsley. This was situated in ‘The Old Boatyard’, originally
constructed by the Duke of Bridgewater for establishing and maintaining his
fleet of coal carrying barges. This operation was named Cheshire Plain
Cruisers. Twenty-two boats were now operating from the two bases.
sweeping changes had taken place. Another base had been purchased from
Master Fleet at Anderton and the Worsley base had been sold.
Bases had also been bought at Hillmorton and Uxbridge. With these
new bases had come boats of an inferior standard to the IML boats which
had been built by David Piper and the Binns.
IML Base at
The firm now offered
three standards of hireboat: Budget Cruising, Midfleet and Topline.
Budget boats had flower names: Poppy, Daisy, Waterlily etc.
Advertising style was designed to appeal to the family market and included a
draw in which a ‘Fabulous Video Recorder’ might be won. Midfleet
boats were aimed at the first time hirer and consisted of boats bought from
Chiltern Narrowboats and Hillmorton
Narrowboats. In 1983 a Topfleet cruise for a week in an IML Barden Class
(6 berth) cost £396 on 6th August. A Midfleet Class (6 berth) cost
£300 and a Budgetfleet (6 berth) cost £288.
By 1991, IML had
disappeared from the scene. A 1991 Alvechurch Boat Centre
brochure advertises boat hire from the Anderton Marina. Their fleet had
obviously not arrived at Anderton in time for the publication of the brochure
because the pictures depict IML boats moored outside the building, which is
clearly marked IML Leisure Marine!
Many of the former IML
boats built by David Piper as shells, are still to be seen
on the system. Most Piper shells which were built for IML had a
permanent name fixed and welded on the stern. This stated ......dale,
the port of registration which was Hull. and its number.
|Recent photos of some former
IML hire narrowboats
Coverdale on Mac canal,
Highdale at Stanley Ferry
Westerdale, now at Whixall
ex IML hire boats:-
xx?dale at Rugby April 04
Windale at Braunston April 04
Is this a
Dale? May 04,
xx?dale on River Lee, may 04
Now Brenda .
a repaint. May 04
Gongoozler May 04 Residential at Tottenham
Hale. Is this a Dale?
Were these boats built
by David Piper?
During the summer of 2006,
a long cruiser was spotted near Swarkestone on the Trent and Mersey
Canal. It had some Piper characteristics which matched the style of
the former IML hire boats operated by Tony and Susan Binns. The
gentleman aboard this boat was a part owner who confirmed that his
boat had been bought at Rugby at the demise of IML. He said that he
had had the choice of two similar boats.
if this boat, The Early Go, had been built by David Piper, we
photographed it and sent the picture to Dorothy. She was immediately
able to see that the welding was not the work of David’s boatyard.
She said that when Rugby Boatbuilders became part of IML and operated
boats from their base, some ‘lookalike’ boats had been built by them
at Rugby. She supposed that this cruiser had been one of these..
A chance conversation with
Michael Dowse at Heritage Marina resulted in Michael producing a 1990
brochure for IML. In this brochure boats were offered for holiday
hire at Anderton and Hillmorton, the Bank Newton and Worsley bases no
longer being operated by IML. ‘Luxury Plus’ boats were advertised as
Amongst the top twenty boats available for hire on the inland
waterway system.. No boat is more than four years old. Older boats
of similar specification were advertised as ‘Luxury’ boats.
‘Luxury Plus ’ boats had a distinctive window design with small hopper
opening panes, as in the picture above. These are unlike the larger
hopper windows which David fitted in his classic boats. If many of
these boats were no more than four years old, they must indeed have
been built at Rugby. The last recorded shell delivered to IML
(Yorkshire Dales cruisers) by the Pipers was Highdale in 1981. Sadly,
the owner of The Early Go is not the proud possessor of a David Piper
Dowse said that two of his hire-boats had been bought from IML. These
must have been amongst the last boats to have been built for that
company and are likely to have been built at Rugby. Compare Marple
with the picture left.
Marple ex Heritage Boats above
many of the older boats, advertised as the ‘Luxury Class’, were built
as sailaways by David, and fitted out by IML. These boats have
characteristic larger hopper windows and tillers with the typical
‘David’ profile. Westerdale, now proudly owned by members Val and Ron
Wilcock, features prominently in the 1990 brochure.
Westerdale 1990 brochure
have any further information? Is your Dale cruiser illustrated here?
Dot is happy to answer any questions about Piper boat
verifications; Dot Piper
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