South West Herts Narrowboat Project

History in brief.

April 1987: the Project was first launched.

Autumn '87: the order was placed with boatyard at Stowe Hill Marine and construction gets underway.

November '87: the shell is rolled out and the narrowboat is placed on water for the first time.

Easter '88: the shell with interior panelling and engine fitted moves from the builders to Hunton Bridge.

Easter '89: "Lady Capel", as the boat was first named, was finally fitted out ready for use.

April '89: she was dispatched to dry dock near Tring, where she received her first painting.

May '89: the official launch of the boat.

October '10 - July '11: the boat was taken out of the water and completely refitted.

January '12 - the planning for a new, wheelchair accessible boat was underway.

January '13 - Pickle's Folly, recently completed by Starline Marine, began its maiden voyage from Stourport-on-Severn to the base at Hunton Bridge.

March '13 - Pickle's Folly was moored alongside Dick's Folly at the base for the first time.

Dick's Folly History

The name of the boat, Dick's Folly, might have described the original concept proposal by Dick Gettens in 1987, but the existence of today's boat is proof enough that the ambitious proposal was not such a folly!

Dick Gettens was then Senior Youth Worker in South West Hertfordshire. Dick gathered a group of enthusiasts to build a boat that would enable community and youth groups to access the waterways.

The boat shell was constructed by Stowe Hill Marine, Weedon, Northamptonshire in 1987, but the whole of the original interior was fitted out by the Project's original trustees.

Early construction of the boat.

1987 Launch.

Launching the boat by crane at Stowe Hill Marine.The original grant to build the boat came from the South West Herts Divisional Youth and Community. The reduced price purchase of an engine from IVECO made it possible to start the boat shell and superstructure construction, knowing that the first stage of the project could be completed within the budget available. By Autumn 1987 the order was placed with Stowe Hill Marine to begin the construction and by November the same year, the boat was placed on the water for the first time.


Easter 1988 - the boat's first long outing.Taking the boat to Hunton Bridge.

At the builders, the engine was fitted together with the interior panelling. By Easter 1988, the boat was ready to be moved from the builders. It was taken down the canal from the builders to Hunton Bridge, where it is now moored.




Easter 1989 - "Lady Capel" was painted for the first time.

Painting the Lady Capel.More fund raising was required to fit out the interior and to decorate the outside of the boat. Local companies and the BBC's Children in Need helped with funding to complete the project. The boat was dispatched to a dry dock in Tring to be painted for the first time.

Fitting out the interior was a full year's work, but by Spring 1989 the boat was ready for an official launch.



Article from the local newspapers.

The official launch in May 1989 was reported in the local Watford and Abbots Langley newspapers.


Dick Gettens died shortly after the official launch. The boat was renamed in memory of him: "Dick's Folly".






In 2009 Dick's Folly suffered a leak from one of the water tanks onboard which caused damage to most of the interior woodwork. The boat was completely stripped by a team of volunteers during the winter and fundraising became the main activity of the Project. Details of some of the events can be seen in the Fundraising and Gallery sections. Arrangements were made with Starline Marine of Worcestershire to start work on the boat while the fund-raising was still in progress. Thousands of pounds were raised by volunteers in the Project and finally in the spring of 2011, the Project received a bequest from the late Graham Pickett which enabled us to finalise the work on the boat.

Early in 2012 the plans for a new wheelchair accessible narrowboat, to be named Pickle's Folly in memory of Graham Pickett, were finalised and the contract with Starline Marine to build the boat was signed. The boat was finished in December 2012 and a volunteer crew travelled to Stourport-on-Severn on New Year's Eve to begin its maiden cruise to the Project's base at Hunton Bridge. Pictures and the crew's log can be seen on this page.

The committee continues to attract new members and the project continues to develop further. If this project excites you in the same way as it has for the volunteer project team and for the youth and community groups that use the boat, then do contact us to get involved.

Both Dick's Folly and Pickle's Folly are moored by the Grand Union Canal at Hunton Bridge, near Abbots Langley and Watford. See the map of our location for more details.


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Registered Charity No. 299973.