Scroll through the pictures above.

A resident of Rivermead Court recently asked me for pictures of the boatyard that stood on their site. I sorted out a few, but then decided that they would make a nice feature.

Founded in 1886 as Meakes & Redknap, and ending up as just J.G.Meakes Ltd., the company lasted almost 100 years before selling up for redevelopment, not long after they had built a smart new showroom, visible on the right of the picture with Swan-Upper Captain Turk and his crew passing by.

The sepia picture shows the staff, including my grandfather John Arnold, standing fifth from left. He was a self-employed carpenter working from 8, York Road, but spent a lot of time sub-contacting to M & R.

That same creeper clad wall is visible in other pictures. In later days they were well known for the production of Sealion ‘42’ Cruisers.

This 1963 colour brochure lists a total price of £15,000 including luxury fittings. You wouldn’t get much luxury for that amount these days. However probably their most famous boat was the 23 foot steam launch ‘Sandpiper’, pictured alongside and built circa 1890. 

It sunk in 1952 spending some time at the bottom of the Thames, but has now been completely restored and refitted, and having been given a new name: ‘Steampiper’. 

In the early and mid 1900s, J.G.Meakes had premises on both Berks and Bucks banks of the river, as they took over Robert Shaw’s boat-hire business alongside the bridge, now replaced with Tierney Court.

The rich and famous numbered amongst Meakes’ customers, and John Boot, who spent much of his working life there, has a nice story about building a boat for comedian Charlie Drake.

- Contact Michael at or call 01628 486571.