Company History

A Brief History of L.H. Jones & Son (boatbuilders) Ltd

Historic picture of the marina

L.H. Jones & Son (boatbuilders) Ltd was established in 1946 when Laurie Jones came out of the RAF and took over a small boating site on the Hartford Meadows consisting of one large hut, part of which he converted into living quarters where he built punts and sailing dinghies. Mr Banham of Cambridge commented “you will never make any money building dinghies; build motor cruiseres for businessmen with secretaries and wives who are not very understanding!”

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LH Jones began to design and build sea-going cruisers, small yachts and motor sailers. In 1958 he sold the business that became Purvis Boat Hire and moved to the current 13 acre site by St.Ives Staunch. It is thought to be one of the oldest marinas in Britain and many crafts like Goosander, pictured below, were built on the new site, and can still be seen on the river today.


A brief history of The River Great Ouse

The Early History

Originally named Slope, (a muddy slope rising out of a fora), the town had long been a river port and crossing point on The River Great Ouse. Around 1105 a wooden bridge was built where there had been a ford. The stone bridge with its chapel is one of only four surviving chapel bridges in he country, built by the Ramsey monks in 1414-15. In subsequent centuries tolls were levied on boats passing under the bridge. By the 17th Century The Ouse became navigable upstream toGreat Barford and later to Bedford, incresing the importance of St.Ives as a trading port (before locks were built navigation was dependant on the tides).
In the 19th Century vast quantities of coal, corn, timber, cattle food, stone and reeds were transported up and down river.

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Up until the early 20th Century 15-20 tonne barges known as Fen Lighters transported goods along The Great Ouse. However in the mid 19 Century railways spread quickly throughout the country and barge traffic started to dwindle on most of the rivers and canals in the country.

Historic picture of the marina

As transportation was in decline recreational activity along the river became more popular. Few people had cars to go away at weekends and it was customary for many to hire a punt or rowing boat for the day. The first fiberglass craft was built by a pig farmer, and when people saw it, asked him to make them one, and the firm of Seamasters was created. Freeman started shortly afterwards.

Navigating the Great Ouse

The River Great Ouse is 150 miles (240 km) long which makes it the major navigable river in East Anglia, and the fourth longest river in the United Kingdom. The lower reaches of the Great Ouse are also known as "Old West River" and "the Ely Ouse". The name Ouse is Celtic or pre-Celtic, and probably means simply "water".

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The river passes through woldy, wooded countryside taking in the towns of St.Neots and Huntingdon with several attractive riverside villages en route. It changes character at St.Ives to a more flat, open landscape heralding the beginning of the Fenlands.
This region is unique, with dramatic open vistas, vast skies and unforgettable sunsets. You can cruise in your boat to the cities of Cambridge and Ely, mooring at secluded waterside pubs as fen lightermen used to, many years ago.

For the adventurous, the river continues past Denver Sluice in a tidal channel towards the port of Kings Lynn and the Wash. The experienced boater can enjoy the scenic North Norfolk coast and beyond.

Connecting via the River Nene, narrowbeam craft can navigate through the Northhampton arm onto the Grand Union Canal - the main artery of the inland waterways system.

The river offers 200 miles of navigable waterways and offers a variety of scenery and wildlife far removed from the pressures of everyday, urban life.

An abundance of wildlife is found along the riverbanks, including birds such as moorhen, kingfishers, mallards, swans, grebes and herons. The Wicken Fen nature reserve near Ely is a haven for rare native insects and wild flowers.

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Jones boatyard, boat sales and boat chandlers are located in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire on the River Great Ouse, and within an hours drive from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Peterborough, Greater London, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Northamptonshire. We specialise in river boat sales and inland boat chandlery.

Local river networks served by the marina, boat sales and chandlery include the River Great Ouse, the River Nene and the Middle Level, the Old West River, the River Cam, the River Lark, the Little Ouse, Brandon Creek, the River Whissey.

Open 7 Days a Week- Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm, Sat: 9am-5pm, Sun: 10am-5pm
Jones Boatyard The Boathaven, Low Road, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire PE27 5ET
Tel:01480 494040 ~ Fax:01480 495280