trip boat on canal (3K)  
Attractions - trip boat
The story of the Zachariah Keppel

The original owners of the boat were Mr Cyril & Mrs Thelma Wood and their son Leslie, of Guildford. The name 'Elsetee' was a concoction of their three first names - Leslie, Cyril and Thelma (El for Leslie, se for Cyril, tee for Thelma. During the time it was moored at Gun's Mouth it was sunk on one occasion causing considerable damage which included the engine, which had to be removed for a complete re-build. After about 18 years the boat was then sold to Nigel Thorne, of Ash.

It had long been a goal of the Wey and Arun Canal Trust to have a public trip boat on the waterway. What seemed a far off dream started to become a reality when in 1993 Mr Nigel Thorne of Ash generously donated a disused narrowboat, Elsetee, to the Trust.



The boat had been moored at the entrance to the Wey & Arun Canal at Shalford for several years but when Mr Thorne's offer was accepted it was craned out and removed to Redlands Farm to be worked on.

Elsetee at entrance to Wey and Arun (7K)  

  boat in workyard (6K)

A team of volunteers from the Trust, led by Roy Broadhead then started to strip down and recondition this rather sorry looking narrowboat and turn it into a valuable and attractive trip boat.



There was a lot of work to do. It was in a poor condition inside, the interior was decaying, animals had been living inside it and so the first job was to strip out what seemed like tons of rotting wood.

interior of boat during renovation (7K)  

  boat nearing completion (7K)

Then it was constructing a new floor, cutting out larger windows, strengthening the remaining superstructure, painting, building seats, generally fitting out to provide everything that people would expect to see on a working trip boat.



A new name for the boat was desired, one which had some connection with the canal. Zachariah Keppel was chosen as it was not only an interesting quirky name, but was that of the contractor responsible for building the vast majority of the original Wey and Arun Canal.

name on bow of boat (7K)  

  boat being craned (7K)  

It took a year to accomplish the refurbishing and in May 1994 a huge lorry and an even bigger crane arrived at the worksite to transport the boat to the canal at Drungewick Hill Farm.



And there in the sunshine, floating at last in the Wey & Arun Canal was Zachariah Keppel, with only a little bit of painting required to finish her ready for public use.

[photos: Steve Long]

boat on Wey and Arun (9K)  

Last updated Apr. 2005