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Langport resident Ian Macnab seeks community suggestions

A Langport man is looking to promote the town’s waterways by sailing his own boat up and down the River Parrett.
Ian Macnab has purchased a 1908 ferryboat built in Plymouth, which in its heyday used to ferry passengers between Teignmouth and Shaldon on the Devon coast.

Ian is inviting the Langport community to come forward with suggestions about how the boat should eventually be employed, such as journeys up and down the river. He said: “I’ve been involved with boats for many years, including the river festivals that were held here in Langport not that long ago.

“I bought the boat in Dittisham and managed after a lot of effort to bring her up here. She needs restoring but she’s fairly sound in the water.” The boat is currently powered by a diesel engine, but Ian hopes to make it a ‘solar-electric’ boat, enabling near-silent river travel. Solar-electric boats use solar panels to charge batteries, which in turn drives the propeller.

Once on the water, there is a stretch of approximately six-and-a-half miles of the River Parrett which is currently navigable.

Ian said: “We can take her from as far as up as Thorney Mill down to Oath Lock – that’s about six-and-a-half miles in total.

“I’m doing this to promote our lovely river, and to promote respectful boating in Langport. It’s an underused river, and a lot of people would like to see more boats on there.

“She’s designed for beach landings, so to embark you just drift into the bank and climb on board.

“That’s how they did when she was in service in Devon. It means you don’t have to build any kind of jetty, and disabled access shouldn’t really be a problem.” On Monday evening Ian took to the river with friends Julian Temperley, his wife Diana and their daughter Matilda, taking them on a short trip up to Black Bridge and the confluence with the River Yeo.

Ian hopes that his personal ‘messing about in boats’ will inspire other Langport residents to come forward with suggestions about how the boat could be used in the future.

He said: “I’m just doing this personally at the moment, but I would welcome feedback from the community about its future.
“We’re a long way off getting it up and running, but I welcome any suggestions as to how it could be used.”

Ian serves on Langport Town Council, and recently presented his venture to its tourism and management committee.
He added: “I have always loved this river. People have talked about having boats on it for years, and now I think that the timing is right.”

Article and Video Courtesy of Daniel Mumby, Western Gazette