12 August 2020

The Boat House at Yelvertoft, a property that is known to many users of the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire as it sits right at the water’s edge, was left to the Association in the will of Mary Jackson. Mary passed away in 2018 having shared the property with her husband Michael, who died in 1995. Michael’s brother, Ian, is the former chair of IWA Warwickshire Branch and he showed us round the property last year.

Ian told a tale of the wonderful love between Michael and Mary and their shared passion for boating as well as for IWA. Their beautiful home was originally constructed as a pub with stables, and it dated from around the same time as when the canal was built. The land to the east of the pub acted as a coal yard for a number of years, before becoming a houseboat mooring for a local doctor. In the 1980s the house’s owners had secured permission to construct a small marina in the large paddock and they even took the first steps towards seeing this business idea come to fruition. However, their plans were put on ice and the house was offered for sale. It was then that Michael and Mary came to see the property and fell in love with its waterside location.

Improvements over the years

Over the ensuing years Mary and Michael demolished the stables and made gradual improvements to the main property while retaining the footprint of the original pub, with a very large reception room and smaller, private sitting area (a former snug?). The rebuilding of the house included raising floor heights and installing insulation, and the addition of a conservatory and solar panels made it more comfortable and practical for modern family living.

Mary wanted the property to remain as a home after her death so that the passion she shared for the waterways with her husband could live on through the house. Her wish was that the property’s canalside location should be utilised as fully as possible for boating and the enjoyment of the waterways – two things dear to both their hearts. Ian says his family are keen for IWA to “obtain maximum benefit from the property”, and the Association is incredibly grateful to the Jackson family for their generous gift.

Rental proposition

A small team of volunteers and staff was brought together in 2019 to work out how to make the most of the property as a rental proposition, while remaining true to Mary’s will and the couple’s passion for the waterways. A builder was appointed following the approval of specifications drawn up by the group. The bathrooms have now been upgraded and a new kitchen installed to suit the requirements of a 21st-century family.

Once complete, the five-bedroom house will be an attractive prospect for renters. Outside, the paddock could be used for grazing or horse care, and the moorings that run alongside represent a further potential income stream for IWA.

After meeting with Ian and viewing the property, we took a stroll along the towpath opposite the Boat House and found a bench with a dedication to Michael. It’s a lovely spot to sit, ponder the view and reflect on the gift left to IWA, which will bring long-lasting benefits.

With thanks to Ian Jackson for the tour of the property and to IWA volunteers Mike Dyer and Chris Howes for seeing this legacy project through to the point of rental.

Passing on property

If you would like to talk to a member of IWA’s staff team about the potential for leaving a gift in your will or request a Legacy pack, please call us on 01494 783453 or email [email protected].

Request a free legacy pack

If you are interested in finding out more about how you can leave a gift in your will to IWA, we will send you an information pack.