PRESS RELEASE: Essex Waterways brings trip boat back to Chelmer & Blackwater

Issue date: 5th June 2017

Essex Waterways Ltd, the IWA subsidiary company that runs the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, is bringing the trip boat Victoria back to the waterway after the boat’s former operator ceased its use in 2016.

Essex Waterways has acquired the 48-passenger, 57’ widebeam with the aid of a grant of just over £30,000 from European LEADER Funds via The Rural Community Council of Essex. The company will use the craft to promote the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, making charter trips along the waterway.

David Smart, Navigation Manager at Essex Waterways Ltd, commented: “Victoria was specially built for the Chelmer & Blackwater and has brought pleasure to many visitors for over 40 years. We’re excited that this distinguished and popular boat is returning to allow more people to experience the delights of the navigation.”

Victoria will operate from her former base at Paper Mill Lock at Little Baddow, near Chelmsford, and will be available for charter every day of the week, with trips available from two hours up to a full day’s hire. Enquiries are welcome at


Notes for editors

About Victoria

  • Commercial cargo carrying on the Navigation ceased in 1972 when the last lighter loads of timber were delivered to Brown & Sons in Chelmsford.
  • Following much lobbying from IWA Chelmsford Branch, the Company of the Proprietors opened up the line for amenity use by the public and allowed private craft access in 1975.  At the same time they commenced operating the pleasure cruiser Victoria.
  • In 2003 the original Navigation Company went into Administration and all non-Navigation assets of value were sold. These included the Tea Rooms at Paper Mill Lock and the trip boat Victoria, which were both sold to the same purchaser in 2005.
  • Paper Mill Lock Cruises operated Victoria from the Tea Rooms until last year when the operation was closed.
  • Victoria was built in West Yorkshire specifically for operation on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. She was launched in 1975 at Heybridge Basin and was based at Paper Mill Lock.
  • Victoria has a length of 17.4m (57’-0’’) and a beam of 3.75m (12’-4’’). Displacement is estimated at approximately 30 tonnes. The design is conventional for a wide beam boat of this type with a flat bottom and steel plate construction. She has an upswept bow with the forward well-deck modified on both port and starboard sides to accommodate easy wheelchair access to the vessel’s interior.
  • Victoria has been re-engined with Beta Marine (Kubota) 4–cylinder water cooled engine of approximately 41 hp fitted internally at the rear of the hull driving through a PRM reduction gearbox and shaft coupling to the propeller. A Kohler independent diesel-fuelled generator is located to the starboard side of the engine room to provide adequate power when the vessel is underway.
  • Victoria is licensed for 48 passengers and has had a recent (2017) MCA Inspection. She has two toilets and a fitted bar, otherwise there is an open plan layout with seating that is adaptable to suit any event.


High resolution photos available for download from Google Drive.

Media contact:

Alicen Stenner -  Tel: 01494 783453

About Essex Waterways Ltd and IWA

Essex Waterways Ltd  is a subsidiary of The Inland Waterways Association and manages and maintains the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation for present and future generations to enjoy.  The Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation runs through a largely unspoilt part of rural Essex and connects the county town of Chelmsford with the tidal estuary of the river Blackwater at Heybridge Basin. The navigation is 13.8 miles (22.1 km) long and has 13 locks.

The navigation was designed by the renowned canal engineer John Rennie and most of his original structures are intact, together with the entire length of the original waterway. The navigation has remained open and independently run throughout its history and management of the navigation was taken over by Essex Waterways Ltd in 2005.

IWA is The Inland Waterways Association, a membership charity that works to protect and restore the country's 6,500 miles of canals and rivers.  IWA is a national organisation with a network of volunteers and branches who deploy their expertise and knowledge to work constructively with navigation authorities, government and other organisations.  The Association also provides practical and technical support to restoration projects through its expert Waterway Recovery Group.

IWA - Keeping our waterways alive.