Couple's harbour boat trips, and their booze cruises
RUN by Nick and Corinna Gray, the Bristol Packet was the first company to offer trips around the Floating Harbour (city docks) since the demise of the pleasure boat Kingstonian in the late 1960s.
Forty years ago this was a bold venture. Visitors to the old docks were thin on the ground and wouldn't arrive in any significant numbers until at least the 1980s.
Charles Hill's shipyard (the Albion Yard) was still in operation but a rapidly rusting ss Great Britain was, at last, safely back in the dock where she had been built.
The general dereliction was, I'm sure, of great interest to students of industrial archaeology, but a real turn-off for the average visitor.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
Trips were taken in the 1930s narrow boat, Redshank, which the Grays had brought down from the Grand Union Canal in the Midlands.
The only protection in bad weather was a tarpaulin rolled over the top and the basic seating consisted of old church pews.
The Grays also had another canal boat, Greenshank, a "butty" (a boat without an engine) which could be towed, or brought, alongside.
As his knowledge of the docks grew, so Nick built up some interesting, anecdotal commentaries which added some depth and interest to the trips.
The Grays then branched out into "booze cruises" – floating tours of dockside hostelries – as well as summer trips up river to The Chequers at Hanham.
As trade picked up Nick had the foresight to buy the Tower Belle, a former 130 seater River Thames pleasure boat, which offered much more comfortable trips up river.
In 1980, three years after rival operators had started up in the docks, Nick decided that it was time to quit and leave Bristol for the quieter waterways of France.
The Bristol Packet is still operating trips today, including down the gorge under the Suspension Bridge.
Unfortunately the 100-year-old, gaily painted showman's trailer from which a colourfully dressed Corinna once sold tickets, no longer graces the quay side.