It wasn't long after we purchased Beacon Park Boats back in 2001 that we realised that the business could outgrow the available space at Llanfoist Wharf. By 2009 our fleet size of 13 boats was at its maximum, given the space at our wharf. In fact, we had space for only six boats to moor for servicing and customer handovers. So, in order to grow the business further, we had to face the big decision of relocation.
For several years we searched along this beautiful canal for a possible site with a few basic requirements: obviously next to the canal, a reasonably flat piece of land, easy road access and near main services. A few locations were spotted but all landowners rejected our offer to purchase. That is, all except two, which were surprisingly next to each other in Llangattock (for you canal enthusiasts - just below bridge 114, in the lovely open field opposite the towpath, where horses are often seen grazing). One site was owned by the Canal &River Trust (CRT) and the second by the Duke of Beaufort.
Initial negotiations took place and planning was submitted on the CRT land but within months ecological issues were mounting up against us. So we withdraw and started discussions with the Duke. To our surprise his land agent, Frank Knight, was willing to talk, and a deal was done.
The next two years were spent working closely with the planners at the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, to enable us to submit a planning application in the summer of 2013. Due to the tourism nature of our application and our long-standing business on the Mon & Brec providing 5-star canal boat holidays to thousands of visitors, the National Park was supportive of the application. Nevertheless, we had the daunting prospect of attending the Planning Committee meeting.
Armed with a plethora of reports about bats, newts, trees, ecology and the views of Natural Resources Wales and CRT, we faced the committee members. Sarah gave an excellent five-minute summary of our dream, and we listened, sitting on the edge of our seats, as councillor after councillor gave their view. Then came the vote, which we won 16 against 5, but with many conditions attached.
With the land purchased and planning approved, all we had to do was find a contractor with a big digger and find a bank with deep pockets. Our current bank, Lloyds, came up with the goods and, working with our excellent local account manager, a finance package was arranged. That left us needing to find a contactor. Believing in keeping things local, we approached a major contractor, Alun Griffiths, whose main offices are in Llanfoist. Our drawings, produced by local architect Ben Bowker, were discussed, and a contract signed in late August 2014, only one week before work actually started!
Then the hard work really started, as you can see from our photo diary of the construction.Countryfile