This houseboat seen floating on the canal in Hebden Bridge is now a mid-century inspired holiday let. Sharon Dale reports.
Trimmed with twinkling fairy lights and tied to a pretty mooring on the Rochdale Canal in Hebden Bridge, Misty Lady was a boat Lucy Tatam-Ogden had always admired.
So when the “For Sale” sign went up, she and her husband, Tom, put in an offer.
“We were looking for a boat to have as a holiday let and I’d had my eye on Misty Lady for ages. It has big windows and is much wider than a narrowboat,” says Lucy.
“Another attraction was that it came with a mooring. That was a really important consideration because finding a boat for sale isn’t difficult but finding moorings is really tricky.”
Constructed from fibreglass as a Norfolk Broads cruiser, no-one is sure how it made its way up to Yorkshire, but it wasn’t hard to date, thanks to the boat builders who left a big clue.
When Lucy and Tom pulled off the internal wall panels when renovating they found the words “They’ve just landed on the moon”.
Those two sentences summed up the nation’s excitement at the first moon landing on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin successfully landed Eagle, their lunar module.
The couple left the script for posterity when they carefully replaced the panels during a project that has transformed the interior of the 49-year-old vessel.
The couple are both creative and Tom is a self-employed joiner who can turn his hand to anything practical.
He took two months off work to devote his time to Misty Lady, which has a living space with a sofa bed and kitchen. This leads to a small shower room with a large double bedroom at the back.It has a boiler run on LPG gas that provides hot water for the shower and the kitchen, and there’s a mains electricity point on the moorings, which runs electric radiators, sockets and lights.
It also feeds into batteries so, if there is ever a power cut, Misty Lady isn’t reliant on the mains. A wood-burning stove, which sits in a period fireplace, is almost superfluous but adds character and ensures cosiness on the coldest days.
“The boat had been well-loved and we thought it was ready to move into but when we investigated further we found that the bedroom needed a lot of work,” says Lucy.
After taking the internal cladding off and sealing the shell against damp, Tom added insulation before replacing the panelling. He also made the bed, which was a challenge as it had to be designed around the engine, which is encased but protrudes upwards into the room. Built-in curved storage shelving and storage cabinets, as specified by Lucy, were also time consuming.
“It was worth it because they add a softness to the room and they mirror the boat’s curves. We also added lights under the bed and cupboards, so it looks like the bed is hovering, which gives a 1960s sci-fi look,” she says.
The kitchen, which has a full-size cooker and fridge, was refurbished and Tom also made a fabulous laminate topped mini dining table and a coffee table.
These are stored neatly out of the way until wanted in the gap next to the steering wheel. They feature colourful laminate tops edged with birch ply and cherry wood legs.
Tom’s skills and Lucy’s flair for design resulted in a new built-in sofa bed with a storage drawer underneath and a super-comfy Ikea mattress.
Lucy was in charge of the boat’s decor and all the painting, including a fabulous Biba-style mural in the bedroom. Her inspiration for the interior design was the 1960s – the era the boat was built.
“The previous owners had it all very cottagey with red and white checked fabrics, which was fine, but I wanted a fresh look,” says Lucy, who collected vintage and retro-style fabrics and accessories from eBay and from local markets and shops including Lucy and the Caterpillar and Spirals in Hebden Bridge
She used the fabric to make cushions and throws and even managed to find some original but unused Sixties pillow cases for the bedroom, which team well with the no-expense-spared Soak and Sleep bed linen.
The local area is celebrated with a print of Hebden Bridge, which they sourced from a tearoom/gallery in Heptonstall.
Their decision to turn Misty Lady into a holiday let came after careful financial assessment. There’s a common misconception that canal boats provide low-cost accommodation once you have bought and paid for your vessel, but there are fees involved and waterways regulations to abide by.
The couple had to buy a river licence from the Canals and River Trust and there was also insurance along with a moorings fee payable to a private landowner. The boat must also have a safety certificate, which needs renewing every four years.
“We pay about £220 a month for the moorings and licence fee and the insurance is £100 a month, which isn’t inconsiderable,” says Lucy.
There’s also the cost of the LPG gas to add in, along with the electricity, which is via a coin meter. Feeding the meter is no problem as the couple live just a mile away.
It makes managing their floating holiday home much easier. They welcomed their first guests aboard this spring and the feedback has been fantastic.
It sums up how special Misty Lady is with comments such as “a real gem”, “a hug of a place” and the enthusiastic “this now officially my favourite place in the world. Another guest described it as a labour of love and that’s exactly what it was,” says Lucy.
“We put a lot of effort into making sure it was right and it’s paid off. It’s become really popular.”
Misty Lady is available for holiday let and costs £85 per night for two people with an extra £10 each for additional guests. Visit www.mistylady.co.uk.