The first punting station on the capital's waterways has been set up on a stretch of the Regent's Canal running alongside the Queen Mary, University of London campus in Mile End.
24 July 2009
Set up by David Carruthers, a fourth year medical student at Queen Mary, the new hire service offers visitors to the area an unusual way to enjoy the historic canal, get closer to the waterway environment, and learn the quintessentially English skill of punting.
Traditionally, punting has been seen as the past-time of choice for students of the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, but now Londoners need only venture as far as Mile End to test their balance aboard a punt and mess about on the water for an hour or so.
David spotted the potential for a waterway business last summer as he and his friends strolled along the towpath, lamenting the lack of somewhere to hire a boat from to paddle around in after finishing lectures and exams.
David explains: “Back home in Bath an opportunity came my way to acquire some punts that needed a little care and attention. After some help from a local boat builder, and a whole lot of elbow grease, I now have a small fleet of punts and canoes to hire out everyday throughout the summer.”
David is hoping that his business can prosper thanks to the 2000 students living at Queen Mary, on the largest self-contained student campus in London and one of the very few city-based campus universities in the UK, as well as College staff and members of the public.
Acting Principal, Professor Philip Ogden said: “It’s fantastic that our students are working not only on their studies, but also as entrepreneurs in the local economy. I hope that David will make a success of this venture and I’m sure that his fellow students will learn to master the art of punting here in East London this summer. ”
Mark Blackwell, business development manager for British Waterways said: “Punting is a popular tourist attraction on other UK waterways, so we were more than happy to encourage and work with David to help him develop his new hire business on the Regent’s Canal."
The hire base on the towpath of the Regent’s Canal will be open, weather permitting, everyday throughout the summer. David is hoping that a combination of summer sunshine and the rise in ‘stay-cations’ will mean that more Londoner’s discover the attractions and activities, such as his new punting business, on their doorsteps.
For more information about the service:
David Carruthers: www.eastlondonboats.com
Opening times and hire prices
Prices for weekends:
Punts: £18/hour per boat, for an additional £12 an hour a chauffeur can be hired at the weekends only
Canoes: £12/hour per boat
Prices for weekdays:
There is a discount of £15/hour a punt and £9/hour for a canoe
1-6pm every day it’s sunny
Hirers must be 18 or over and provide adequate ID and payment must be in cash. All hire is at own risk and damage will be charged for. Life jackets are available to hire for £1 per jacket, for those who want one.
For media information, contact:Rupert Marquand