Log in
Article search:

Q & A

Ref grp narrow boat

some 30+ years ago there was a company that was trying to make a GRP narrow boat, what was there name, and what became of them?

Asked by: Bryan Victor Mayle  | 1.46pm, Monday 6 February

WW says:

Highbridge Cruisers used to make a series of GRP Cruisers that were very narrowboat in style- with forward cockpit- and aft wheel steering under a folding hardtop with canvas sides. Produced in 23, 27 and 32ft versions, they were heavily gendered with rubber topped hardwood rubbing strokes to protect the hull sides. They were very well built- and mainly sold by Venetian Marine in the north-west, off the Shropshire Union canal.
The boats started life as the 29ft Dawncraft Rover- which was less well fitted and has a much shorter aft deck. Most of the Highbridge range were in a pale beige and brown colour, while some of the very last were in maroon and white/cream, before the company stoped production. The moulds for the boats are still in existence, but no plans currently to make any more boats. As used boats thy make good value craft- usually with four-stroke petrol outboards, though a few had diesel inboard engines with ourselves. They have (on the 27 and 32ft models- the latter called the Crusader) a usefully large toilet compartment and shower.
A few other GRP narrowboats have made an appearance over the years- notably the Mallard range, which WW reviewed many years ago- however they are not cost effective to produce compared to steel narrowboats, unless you can recoup the costs of the tooling required for the moulds by producing many tens if not hundreds of boats from the same set.

Mark Langley  | 4.37PM, Monday 6 February

The company that produced the closest thing I have seen to a glass fibre narrowboat is Fibreline Boats. It was active in South Wales in the late 1990s.
Its boats were 45ft long and had traditional, semi-traditional or cruiser sterns. The propeller operated in a tunnel formed in the hull. This arrangement was claimed to give excellent control in forward and reverse as well as an ability to stop in a short distance.
The boats were designed from the outset as narrowboats and not as conversions of cruisers but the need for the hull moulding and the superstructure moulding to meet in a straight line meant that they lacked the characteristic upturned ends of a narrowboat. This gave them a rather clumsy appearance. The interiors were more like a conventional narrowboat and quite attractive.
In spite of a very enthusiastic management team, the boats never really caught on and production ceased around the turn of the century.

Graham Booth  | 8.55PM, Monday 6 February

I had forgotten about Fibreline hahaha! I saw one a few years ago on the Grand Union and it was alas not well looked after :( A pity as GRP is generally quite easy to care for if you clean and polish it every now and then...

Mark Langley  | 11.13PM, Monday 6 February

I forgot to mention that I did a review of a Fibreline boat in the April 1999 issue of WW. If this is the boat that you are interested in, you may be able to get a copy from our back numbers section via the 'Shop' option of this website.

Graham Booth  | 11.01AM, Tuesday 7 February

You must log in to post an answer.