The Congleton Steamboat
As the river Dane winds its way through the town of Congleton an unusual sight can be seen on its fast flowing waters. Close to the Riverside Mill can be found a sixty foot long steamboat moored at the specially designed quay at the rivers side.
This large vessel was transported here by local business man Joe Terry in the late 1990s, it was his dream to open a seafood restaurant. The boat was a former trawler which had previously been involved in the Icelandic cod wars and was then known as the Limanda. The trawler had been built in Denmark in 1974 and had fished the North sea having been based at Grimsby, it also made the Grimsby Evening news when it became known that it would be coming ashore as a Restaurant based in the town of Congleton. The boat was decommisioned in 1994 and was brought by Mr Terry when he came across it in a boat yard at Holyhead in Anglesey. He was fortunate to have found it as it was due to be destroyed to comply with regulations, however it was given a reprieve as it should have appeared on “Challenge Anneka” although its appearance never took place.The trawler which was 60 feet in length and weighed 80 tons was brought here on a low loader and the main road into Congleton had to be closed off while the boat was craned into its place. According to Mr Terry the crane was the largest one in the UK at the time and due to its size only the hull was brought here, the superstructure was constructed later and made to resemble a steamboat. The true cost of the venture is not fully known, it is believed to have started somewhere around £150,000 and risen to about £300,000.
Unfortunately the restaurant was not a success which was partly due to being a bit to far from the centre of town for people to take advantage of the cafe/ bar and also the timing was not great, if he had left it a bit longer he could have taken advantage of the new Riverside develpment. However it was probably Mr Terry’s offhand manner when he ran the Lion and Swan hotel that people had not forgotten and his strong views which had been published in the Congleton Chronicle which were the final nails in the steamboat’s coffin. The restaurant with its expensive menu failed to pull in the richer class of diners from Alderley Edge and Wilmslow even when the cut price two for one meals were promoted. By 1999 and after being opened for only 18 months the dream had come to an end, the steamboat was to be auctioned at terminal two at Manchester airport with a guide price of £190,000, however the steamboat went into receivership in 2000 and in 2001 it was sold at auction for £40,500 to a Mr Ray Morris of Moss road in Congleton and in 2004 he was served with an “untidy site notice” as the boat had now become an eyesore. In 2006 Mr Morris attempted to sell the boat on E Bay for £50,000. As to the present owners it is believed that a local businessman Mr Stephen Bedford now owns the steamboat with an undisclosed partner who were planning to turn it into a Mediterranean style restaruant, however the boat still remains boarded up and no work has yet started.
Mr Terry has since moved on and I believe he is working on an island known as St Helena close to Brazil. He may have moved on but his legacy in the shape of the Congleton steamboat is a constant reminder to the people of Congleton that sometimes not all ones dreams come true!
New steps are under way to try to clean up the Steamboat after Graham Goodwin who ran as an independent candidate at the May elections but failed to win a seat wrote to the town councillors and brought the subject of the steamboat to their attention once more. He has asked councillors to lobby East Cheshire council regarding action to clean up the problem, and to keep residents updated with any changes that occur. However knowing how fast local Government acts I think we will be honoured with the Steamboat’s presence for a few more years to come!
LATEST NEWS FLASH
The following news story appeared on the 8th of September 2011 in the local paper concerning the Congleton Steamboat and is as follows: