I would like to say I was very surprised to get the email from British Marine yesterday announcing the end of the London Boat Show.
However, I have to say the move from dear old Earls Court always had the distant ring of ‘this may not be the best way forward’. OK, the trips over to the muddy area that would – eventually – become the London Boat Show were exciting as the venue gradually grew to become quite smart, with trips across the Thames in cable cars and hotels springing up all over the place.
But I have to say I always felt there was something missing.
The area around ExCeL never seemed to catch up, which was always going to be a problem. It was, after all, an East End area where many who lived there are descendants of the men who worked the docks.
Other areas – Canary Wharf, for example – seemed to morph naturally into a buzzing area of pubs and shops and flats. But have the buildings across the dock changed at all? I haven’t been to ExCeL for some time, so I’m probably a bit out of date, but it always seemed to me the area was struggling to move away from the East End.
I can remember riding over to the muddy ExCeL site on my Honda 750 to be given a pair of wellington boots to wade around in the mud, wondering what the area would turn into. It certainly had all the trappings of an exciting site, even if the surrounding area was hardly in the same league.
Perhaps the many who were avid Earls Court devotees (I was one of them, living at the time just down the road from Earls Court underground station), simply couldn’t (or wouldn’t) make the journey over to ExCeL.
The trip to ExCeL was always a problem for most. OK, if you were staying at a local hotel for the duration, it was acceptable, but we lived in a bit of a cocoon for the duration, only catching coaches to go to the various events planned throughout the duration of the show.
Mind you, some of those events were well worth the evening out; river boat shuffles, local theatre events, pub dinners – there was always something going on. And, of course, the ExCeL area was overrun with hotels.
But I have to say I won’t worry about never going back to ExCeL. And British Marine now has the exciting prospect of coming up with something perhaps entirely different.
That prospect will be in the hands of the new boy on the block Gregg Munford for his incoming President’s year, after which Ian Cooke takes over the reins.
I think David Pougher made some excellent decisions in awkward times. And I think Gregg and Ian will carry on in the same vein…