A new passenger boat service designed to help people get more time out on the River Tees has been officially launched by the Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees.
Councillor Ken Dixon visited Preston Park on Saturday (2 July) to formally name RiverShack’s new passenger boat JUNO and officially declare the service open for the summer.
Passengers on JUNO can enjoy leisurely half-hour trips between Preston Park and Yarm at weekends, public holidays and school holidays, while the boat is also available to all community and social groups during the week, as well as private hire. The hourly passenger service will also be extended to include trips to and from Tees Barrage later in the season.
The Mayor enjoyed his inaugural ride on the passenger boat accompanied by volunteers from one of his chosen charities, Butterwick Hospice.
Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees, Councillor Ken Dixon, said: “We are very lucky to have the River Tees on our doorstep and seeing so many people out on the river on Saturday shows what a valued asset it is to our residents and visitors. The passenger boat from RiverShack is an excellent new service, which will no doubt encourage even more people to get out onto the water and experience everything that it has to offer. It was a real pleasure to officially name JUNO and travel on her along the Tees.”
The new passenger boat also complements RiverShack’s existing rowing boat service, which has operated in Yarm and Preston Park since 2014.
Councillor Norma Wilburn, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, added: “JUNO is a great new addition to the rowing boats that RiverShack already offer, as well as the facilities available at the Tees Barrage and the River Tees Watersports Centre. Whether you want to take in the local scenery and wildlife, or try something new, we have a wide range of leisure and watersport activities available in the Borough which means that you don’t have to venture very far to make the most of our wonderful river.”
RiverShack Director, Rachel Dodd, said: “The Tees is a vastly underused asset and has great potential – think of the River Avon, or Thames, or a local river like the Ouse. Our vision is to help shift people’s perceptions to realize the River Tees can be more like other destination rivers in the UK. Our new boat is a response to people simply wanting to get out on the river - the open-sided boat is perfect for enjoying this great natural asset and seeing the area from a different perspective.
“We can accommodate 50 passengers so we can take out large groups for river trips and run bespoke events for activities such as wildlife photography or private events. It’s up to local people to tell us what they want from this boat, which is why we plan to set up the boat as a community asset to attract local groups and their activities.
Rachel added: “I’m delighted the Mayor and his guests were able to join us for a ride out on the river. We have strong partnerships with other organisations that already do great work on and around the river, such as Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, River Tees Rediscovered, the Canal and River Trust and the Wheelyboats. This next phase of RiverShack is a result of the great support from them all.”
Yarm Wharf is due for maintenance works later this summer, during which time an alternative landing point nearby in Yarm will be used for the riverboat.
For further information on this as well as departure times, prices and schedules please visit www.facebook.com/RiverShackTees or call Rachel on 07795613299.
Picture caption (from L-R): Russ Hewitt (RiverShack Director), Tracy Dunning (Butterwick Hospice Volunteer), Linda Hunt (Butterwick Hospice Volunteer), Sheila Carling (Butterwick Hospice Volunteer), Jen Walsh (Butterwick Hospice Volunteer), Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees – Councillor Ken Dixon, Mayoress of Stockton-on-Tees – Mrs Linda Dixon, Richard Bowater (Butterwick Hospice Volunteer), Nichola Bowater (Butterwick Hospice Volunteer) and Rachel Dodd (RiverShack Director).