Canal Boat - - The Boat Test -

TYLER-WIL­SON BOAT­BUILDERS Tyler-Wil­son is the very def­i­ni­tion of a fam­ily firm. Jonathan Wil­son (right) learned his trade from his un­cle, the well re­spected boat builder Mike Hey­wood. Jonathan set up on his own in 1986, and took on Tim (left) as an ap­pren­tice. He later joined the fam­ily, by mar­ry­ing Jonathan’s sis­ter. When Mike Hey­wood died in 2002, the firm in­her­ited many of his staff; to­day the team in­cludes sev­eral Hey­wood and Wil­sons, not least Jonathan’s son, Louis.

Over the years, the firm has had a num­ber of bases, such as Sten­son and Hixon and it now op­er­ates from two sites, in Sheffield and Stoke. Be­tween them, the two teams build around 50 mostly nar­row­boat shells each year, but re­cent builds have in­cluded wide­beams, Dutch barges and a house­boat.

A visit to the yard is fas­ci­nat­ing. Firstly, you re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the va­ri­ety of boats in build and, se­condly, you also get to see the bits of shells which are nor­mally out of sight, such as the fram­ing in­side the hull or the cabin sides, and how the stem post is con­structed.

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