THE final tale from the riverbank is about to be told for a Worcester family as they prepare to close their popular boat hire business.
Pitchcroft Boating Station, in Waterworks Road, in Barbourne, could close as soon as September, depending on the weather, as the family prepare to wind up a business that has been on the river Severn for more than 100 years.
Owner and father of three John Morris, aged 86, has been involved in the business since the mid-1940s along with brother Philip after their father, Sid, took it over.
The business was started in 1910 by two brothers, both shipwrights from Newcastle- upon-Tyne, but it was under the Morris family that it experienced its heyday in the 1950s, and at one time they had 80 boats on the river.
The family has made a living off the river, where the family hire out boats – rowing boats, motorboats, day boats and canoes and also moorings for private boats.
Mr Morris made vessels from wood and later from fibreglass. Regular customers return year after year, and the family rely on word of mouth and the telephone rather than the internet for trade.
A boat called Munchkin has proved a big hit, particularly among students as people row up and down the river between Bevere and Diglis.
“If they can’t row then we soon learn them – at no extra charge,” he said. “It is the end of an era. We’re probably the last family operating rowing boats on the Severn.”
Mr Morris, who describes himself as a shipwright, found a helping hand in one of his three daughters, Jacqui Morris, 57. “As you row up this river you have different things appearing and disappearing,” Mr Morris said. “You will see a heron and a couple of water rats, otters, a seal and a salmon jump or a fisherman catch an eel, things some people have never seen before in their lives. There’s a lot of character in the river. It is sorely neglected.”
They family also used to run an 80-seater passenger boat and some paddle boats from the main Worcester bridge, and have both a 42- foot private rented mooring and they rent another from Worcester City Council.
Miss Morris said: “This place will be truly missed. It’s an easy business to run because we live on site. It is a way of life – our tales from the riverbank."
“Sometimes I think people now don’t know how to enjoy themselves. This offers relaxation, a way to switch off from the rat race. We will miss it. It is in our blood.”
To hire a boat call them on 01905 27949.