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Goodbye to the Queen of Sheba from Devizes
It was the end of an era on the Kennet and Avon Canal in Devizes on Monday when the narrowboat Queen of Sheba, a local landmark on the canal towpath for the last 17 years, moved on.
The 61-foot boat was craned out the water at Devizes Wharf on Monday, watched by her sad former owners, Alan and Sarah Padwick.
The couple are giving up the boat, which has carried them along the waterways of Britain for nearly two decades, because they are getting too old for it.
Mr Padwick said: “It is getting more difficult to manage the lock gates and other physical activities associated with canal boating. We thought we ought to give it up before it gave us up.”
The Queen of Sheba has been a winter feature of the London Road stretch of the canal since 1996, moored at the bottom of the Padwicks’ garden. During summer months she has carried her owners, and four generations of golden retrievers, to nearly every part of the inland waterways system and even occasionally to sea on the Bristol Channel.
Reaching beyond Lanc-aster in the west, crossing the Pennines several times, penetrating north as far as Ripon in the east and making many tidal passages, she has also been to Boston, Liver-pool, Llangollen, Cambridge, London and all waterways in between. She has covered 17,122 miles and negotiated 9,606 locks on the way.
Mr Padwick said: “While that might not seem much in a motor car, bear in mind that she moves at three miles an hour, except on broad rivers and wide open waters.
“After a 35-year career in the Royal Navy, this was an extension of my life afloat and we will now have to adjust to being true landlubbers with a caravan instead of a boat.”
There was a glitch in the removal of the boat from the Wharf on Monday when the contractors forgot the straps to lift her out. Her new home will be on the River Soar north of Leicester, where she will become the floating home of a professor of educational sociology from Birmingham University and her young daughter.