Barby's Marina begins to take shape

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Barby's Marina begins to take shape

The dream of two budding entrepreneurs to build a canal marina near to Rugby is very quickly becoming a reality, as Barby Moorings starts to take shape.

Barby Moorings is the brainchild of the business owners Tony McMaster and his partner Penny Leede. The project, which has been funded by family investment and the Royal Bank of Scotland ('RBS'), is seeing an unused arable field transformed into an environmentally friendly 108-berth marina on the Oxford Canal. The marina will open in July 2011.

The project has the backing of British Waterways, and Tony and Penny intend to make Barby Moorings a major tourist attraction – both for canal users and day trippers - providing seasonal employment for around 14 people.

Tony and Penny have a shared love for canals and enjoyed many years of narrow boating holidays, before being inspired to start work on their business venture. Knowing that there was an upward trend in the number of boats on the canals, Tony and Penny knew their idea for a marina would be successful, but first needed to find the right location. After a number of years searching for the ideal plot they purchased the land in Barby and started planning the marina and successfully obtained planning permission.

Although Barby Moorings is a business, it was very important for Tony and Penny to generate a community feel at the marina as well as it focusing on the ecological impact. To achieve this Tony – who has an engineering background – has worked closely with local contractors Modern Plant Group. Together they have made the marina as natural as possible whilst also creating some very modern facilities which will be available to both canal users and other visitors to the area. The basin has been designed with soft edges wherever possible and planted with a range of native species. Additionally, they have built an island in the middle of the marina which serves to break up the water space providing wide moorings in secluded bays. These will provide boat owners with a safe and secure environment as well as being an ecological area which will become a haven for wildlife.

All in all 147,000 cubic metres of soil has been excavated and used for landscaping, which will ensure the marina is fully integrated into the surrounding area and the existing character of the countryside.

In addition to the 108 moorings, there are plans for the Marina to feature a main building on two levels with the upper level accommodating a comfortable restaurant and lounge bar overlooking the whole marina. The rest of the building opens on to the quayside with showers, toilets, a laundrette and a cafe. Next to this will be the chandlery and general store which will sell anything from bread, milk and the morning papers to engine oil and rope. The quayside will also boast a service dock with diesel, gas, wood, waste disposal, recycling, pump out and sluice facilities. There is also a workshop maintenance area with facilities to do most jobs from an oil change to boat lift out and blacking. There is plenty of secure car parking distributed around the site.

The moorings are also fully serviced with electricity, water, wired internet and digital ready TV aerial sockets for every boat. Additionally leisure plots have been created for a number of the moorings with a private garden area alongside the boat.

As a result of the facilities and overall plans for the site, Barby Moorings, which will create 14 jobs, is already 85% booked before it is even open.

Tony McMaster, Director of Barby Moorings said: "Penny and I are very excited about the way Barby Moorings has developed from an arable field into this amazing marina. We have a real passion about narrow boats and the environment, and wanted to create something that would definitely benefit both. Although our focus was on creating a business which will provide canal boat owners and tourists with the facilities they want, it has already become an important part of the landscape. This has been supported by the fact that we have planted in excess of 2,500 hawthorn bushes recreating an ancient hedge which had been removed from the land many many years ago. The creation of Barby Moorings not only makes economic sense for us, it also supports the local community and enhances the environment."

Tony added: "Penny and I want to thank everyone who has helped us turn our dream into a reality. We would especially like to thank British Waterways, the team at Modern Plant Group, together with Adam Smith and Glenn Williamson from RBS."

Adam Smith Senior Relationship Manager and Glenn Williamson, Director Business Development for RBS Corporate Banking in Coventry and Warwickshire provided the additional funding for the project.

Adam Smith said: "Tony and Penny really have put a great deal of time and effort into this venture and the results of their work are really impressive. With the news that a high percentage of the moorings are already booked shows that they are creating the right facilities at Barby Moorings as well as a great attraction for the local area, an important ecological centre and new jobs. We are delighted to be supporting this project."

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