There was quite a collection of boats near the Bubble Inn above the lock. I remember the days when we would play around here and only see a couple of boats all day. Nowadays, there is a marina, a cafe, the Inn itself; the whole area is a hive of activity.
The marina was developed in 1974 from the narrowboat lay-by at the top of the lock. This was expanded to provide moorings for about a hundred boats. For a while, it was a going concern, but by the mid 1980s most of the hire fleets had pulled out of the area and the marina was losing money.
In 1986, a new owner took over and the focus changed. Stenson became a centre for building and servicing narrowboats, becoming one of the foremost inland boatbuilders in the country, offering both production and bespoke boats as well as doing refitting and steelwork repairs. The marina continues, but the number of berths has been reduced to accomodate around 80 larger boats and facilities have been updated so that all of the expected services are now provided.
The boat in the foreground is the Stenson Belle, a pleasure cruise boat which offers 45 minute trips down the canal towards the village of Willington. Also available at the marina is a private hire boat called Sunray which can booked for day cruises as far as Horninglow Basin near Burton on Trent, just over the county boundary into Staffordshire.
I've never been on a narrowboat. Friends who have, tell me what an enjoyable experience it is; peaceful and slow. Sounds good. :)