All aboard for a life on the wa­ter close to the heart of his­toric York

Fancy a home on the wa­ter in York­shire’s most sought-af­ter city? Sharon Dale re­ports on two spec­tac­u­lar live­aboards for sale in cen­tral York.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY NEWS -

AF­TER LIV­ING aboard his cen­tral York house­boat for 30 years, Ken Ainsworth has got used to ques­tions from land­lub­bers who are fas­ci­nated by his float­ing home.

The most com­mon is “does it flood?” The an­swer is a def­i­nite “no”. In fact, the boat is one of the dri­est places to be when the River Ouse rises. Nei­ther does it bob about a lot, so there is lit­tle dan­ger of mo­tion sick­ness.

“The boat is tied to the moor­ings with self-ad­just­ing poles and chains,” says Ken. “It rises and falls with the wa­ter level but you don’t feel it. Peo­ple who come on board are al­ways sur­prised that it is so still but this isn’t a fi­bre­glass struc­ture that bobs like a cork, it weighs over 50 tonnes, so it takes some force to shift it.”

The strength and size of the barge to­gether with its free­hold per­ma­nent moor­ings and ex­cep­tional lo­ca­tion ac­count for its price tag of £300,000.

Free­hold moor­ings are very rare in­deed and these are close to Skelder­gate Bridge in Cle­men­thorpe, just 400 yards from the bar walls. It’s a fiveminute walk into the heart of the his­toric city and a two-minute walk on the river­side path to fash­ion­able Bish­opthorpe Road, which has been de­scribed as York­shire’s an­swer to Not­ting Hill.

The boat is also con­nected to mains wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and gas and has a good broad­band, wi-fi and a Sky TV con­nec­tion. Ken bought Mo­tor Ves­sel Till in 1986 af­ter leav­ing the Army.

He could’ve bought a house but he wanted some­thing dif­fer­ent and his barge has proved to be a bet­ter in­vest­ment, thanks largely to its moor­ing

“I looked at a bricks and mor­tar prop­erty for £14,000 and de­cided I’d rather have a boat. That house is now worth £230,000,” he says.

The 73ft by 35ft cargo boat was built in 1904 and had been re­tired from com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions when Ken first set eyes on it. It was lit­tle more than a sturdy iron hull with a lot of po­ten­tial when he bought it but within six months it had been con­verted into a home for him, his part­ner and their fouryear-old daugh­ter. He has since mod­ernised the in­te­rior and in the boat had a new steel bot­tom in 2008.

His home is equiv­a­lent in size to a three-bed­room house, he says. It has a hall­way from bow to stern, a bath­room with a bath, a kitchen, a 15ft by 14ft sit­ting/ din­ing area and three bed­rooms. Out­side, there is a sun ter­race on the top deck.

The house­boat is li­able for coun­cil tax and for an £800 river

CITY LIV­ING: li­cence, the boat­ing equiav­lent of an MoT to make sure the ves­sel is fit to be on the wa­ter.

Ken and his part­ner are sell­ing it to re­lease equity and down­size, though if it doesn’t sell they will move and rent it as a holiday let – they al­ready of­fer stays via Airbnb.

“I will miss it,” says Ken. “It is very peace­ful be­cause you are close to the city cen­tre but just far enough away so you don’t hear the nightlife. It’s beau­ti­ful, es­pe­cially at night when you can look un­der Skelder­gate Bridge and see the lights re­flected on the wa­ter.”

If you can’t af­ford the £300,000 ask­ing price for

Ken’s boat, then there is a less ex­pen­sive op­tion. A lit­tle fur­ther down the river, by Ferry Lane, Bish­opthorpe, the Khu­l­uleka, which is Zulu for free spirit, is on the mar­ket for £88,000.

It doesn’t have a prized free­hold moor­ing but it has been tied up at its Bish­opthorpe site since Au­gust. The owner of the moor­ing is happy to talk to the new owner of the boat about the ar­range­ment, which costs be­tween £200 to £300 a month.

Khu­l­uleka also has a con­tin­u­ous cruise li­cence, which means it can travel the wa­ter­ways and moor for up to two weeks in the same spot.

The ves­sel, a 60ft by 10ft wide beam, was built in 2013 by Vik­ing Canal Boats in Poland to the owner’s spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

Pete Ablitt and his wife, who are in their mid-50s, were keen to try life on the wa­ter af­ter re­turn­ing from a spell in South Africa and ini­tially lived in an older boat be­fore in­vest­ing in a new one three years ago.

One of the main cri­te­ria with the new-build was to make it user-friendly and en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient. So the boat is well in­su­lated and, rather than re­ly­ing on run­ning the boat’s en­gine for two hours a day to charge the12v stor­age bat­ter­ies, the cou­ple in­stalled so­lar PV pan­els. There is also the op­tion to hook up to a mains sup­ply at some moor­ings.

A gas bot­tle runs the cooker and costs about £15 a month and the boat is warmed by a 5kw solid fuel stove and ra­di­a­tors.

There is a large 1,000 litre wa­ter stor­age and a com­post­ing toi­let, which means there is no need for pump­ing out sew­er­age.

In­side, there is a kitchen, a sit­ting room, of­fice/sin­gle bed­room, bath­room with a bath and a shower, a dou­ble bed­room and lots of stor­age, in­clud­ing a shed for bikes.

Pete and his part­ner are sell­ing to pur­sue fresh ad­ven­tures, in­clud­ing ren­o­vat­ing an old Land Rover. “We will miss the boat. We’ve had a won­der­ful life on here,” says Pete, who works in IT. “The best thing about it is be­ing so close to na­ture.”

The Khu­l­uleka, which is Zulu for free spirit, is on the mar­ket for £88,000. It has two bed­rooms and rents a tem­po­rary moor­ing in Bish­opthorpe.

Mo­tor Ves­sel Till is £300,000. The con­verted com­mer­cial barge is spa­cious and comes with a rare free­hold per­ma­nent moor­ing. It has three bed­rooms and mains ser­vices.


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