Templar's Firs Slipway upgrade, 1996
After the Open Day in 1995, the next focus was on the 'Pioneer Trail-Boat Rally' on 13-14th July 1996. Craft up to 24 feet in length would need easy access, and this called for a concrete slipway, as seen here in early Spring 1996. The two-wheeled machine in the background is a 'Smalley' excavator, nearing the end of its working life. With just two wheels, it would only limp forward and so it was better if left stationary.
While the slipway was being built, a team worked on a wooden boat that had been left in a farmer's field for some years. Despite its poor condition, it was brought back to life to become the trip-boat for the Wootton Bassett branch, and was named 'Pioneer'. Its first outing was as a float in the town's Carnival procession in May.
Subsequently, boat-trips took place at weekends during the summer.
The slipway was further upgraded in early 1998, to cater for craft the size of Vic Miller's new Sea-Otter narrowboat 'Nonsuch'.