Jones the Boats
Retired Welsh trip-boat operator Peter Jones was recently awarded IWA’s Tetlow Cup in recognition of his outstanding service to the waterways. We spoke to him about his remarkable canal career
Jones the Boats, a passenger-boat service that operated out of Trevor on the Llangollen Canal, was run by Peter Jones, who carried visitors back and forth across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct for 20 years.
Starting with just one boat, Peter bought the lease for the business from British Waterways in 2003 and the enterprise soon developed into two craft (the second was a restaurant boat), plus a café. A schedule of hourly departures each day over the summer allowed Peter to carry approximately 25,000 visitors a year on the 45-minute return journey over the aqueduct.
The biggest change in his two-decade career came when the aqueduct was granted World Heritage status in 2009, Peter explains. “Within a month visitor numbers had increased dramatically. Everybody wanted to come and see it – including TV crews. Over the years I’ve been roped into programmes as diverse as Countryfile and Flog It! Even today some passengers still remember seeing the programmes.”
However, the real highlight of the job, Peter insists, was the chance to meet so many people from different walks of life: “Nearly everyone was in a pleasant mood and out to enjoy themselves. We even had wedding parties aboard. On one occasion the bride was recruited to work for us!”
Asked if he ever got bored of the views having undertaken the same journey for so many years, Peter responds: “Never. The scenery changed constantly with the seasons and there was always something different.”
Read the full ‘Last Word’ feature in February 2020 Waterways World