About Four Counties Fuels
Im pleased to be able to finally share with everybody the future plans for fuel boat Halsall.
Back last autumn I sought investment in my idea of starting a new fuel boat business down in London. Within an hour of me starting that a thread on the Canalworld Discussion Forums I was contacted by Brian McGuigan, a forum member and owner of Renaissance Canal Carrying and operator of the fuel boat Alton to say it might be something he would be interested in working with me on. So we arranged to meet up and discuss possibilities over a pint.
Things progressed over the coming months and we drew up a list of possible boats and ended up with Gosty Hill being the most realistic as it was already set up to trade and had been on the market for a couple of years. Unbelievably on the day we were ready to arrange a viewing I phoned up only to be told it had gone under offer a few hours earlier! This meant we had to re-evaluate and during that process we started looking at the feasibility of putting a second boat onto the round currently worked by Brian and Ann Marie on Alton as their business was growing and there was scope for more growth in the future so the London idea went on the back burner.
We were then made aware of a Large Woolwich that was about to come onto the market and made an offer accepted (subject to survey) which was accepted. Sadly things didnt go well for us at the survey stage and we decided withdraw our offer & continue our search. This left us again disappointed, but I had seen a few posts from forum member Madcat intimating that she might think about selling Halsall in the future. To try and salvage something from the day we arranged at short notice to make the short journey across Birmingham and have a cuppa and have a look at her boat. Once we set eyes on Halsall we knew straight away that it was the boat for us, as Madcat has done an amazing job restoring the boat during her ownership and it was ready to go back into trade.
Over the winter things developed, I sold my boat Albion and started putting in place plans to leave my job as a Dog Handler for the Border Force in France, as well as regularly working with Brian and Ann Marie on Alton learning the ropes on their Macclesfield/Peak Forest round. This all culminated in Halsall being purchased at Easter to operate as part of our new joint business venture Four Counties Fuels Ltd.
After a quick dash to take Halsall up to the Easter boat gathering at Ellesmere Port it was back to the Midlands where work has started to configure the boat ready for trading as a fuel boat. The forum and its members have played a huge part in this process at every stage. Matty40s has done a fantastic job repainting the boat into the Blue/White GUCCCo livery in difficult conditions dodging rain and gales. Dave Moore has done the sign writing to his usual exceptional standards. George (Furnessvale/ex NB Alton) has assisted as a consultant and prepared detailed designs to enable Martin Kedian of Kedian Engineering to pull out all the stops and build a combined total of nearly 12,000 litres of steel tanks to go in the boat. Captain Fizz is dealing with the installation of everything into the boat and within 12 hrs of returning from a month cycling round Germany he was in the hold of Halsall with his tape measure. With both the previous and current owners being forum members I really do think it should be highlighted just what positive powers this forum can have and what great people it has amongst its ranks.
So what for the future? We are now just a few days away from being ready to go, then well be out on the cut. Every 2 weeks Halsall (together with occasional runs by Alton) will cover part of the area currently worked by Brian & Ann Marie as Rennaissance Canal Carrying. This area will be T&M from Preston Brook down to Kidsgrove, The River Weaver, The Shroppie from Nantwich up to Ellesmere Port and across the Middlewich Branch. In addition to this we will be expanding to join up the 2 southern ends of this route to do the full Four Counties Ring once a month (T&M down to Great Heywood, Staffs & Worcs to Autherly Jcn and up the rest of the Shropshire Union). We are also looking at the possibility of occasionally running up the Caldon Canal which Brian currently covers with road deliveries.
Ill be keeping the whereabouts of Fuelboat Halsall updated by daily updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on the website www.fourcountiesfuels.co.uk.