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Stratford upon Avon
Boat Trips on the River Avon from Stratford


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This page shows a selection of passenger boats which have worked on the River Avon based at Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire.


River Avon Navigation
There are four rivers named Avon in England, located in Devon, Warwickshire, Hampshire and Bristol, with others in Scotland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Avon is an old English name for a river. The source of the 'Warwickshire' Avon is near the village of Naseby in Northamptonshire. For the first few miles of its length between Welford and the Dow Bridge on Watling Street, it forms the border between Northamptonshire and Leicestershire. On this section, it has been dammed to create Stanford Reservoir. It then flows in a generally west-south-westerly direction, not far north of the Cotswold Edge and through the Vale of Evesham, passing through the towns and villages of Welford, Rugby, Wolston, (bordering Leamington Spa), Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, Welford-on-Avon, Bidford-on-Avon, Evesham and Pershore, before it joins the River Severn at Tewkesbury.

The river has a total length of 85 miles (137 km) and a catchment size of 1,032 square miles (2,670 km2). The Avon's tributaries include the Rivers Leam, Stour, Sowe, Dene, Arrow, Swift, Alne, Isbourne, Sherbourne and Swilgate as well as many minor streams and brooks. A long distance footpath has been created which follows the river from its source to the River Severn at Tewkesbury. The route is marketed as Shakespeare's Avon Way, and is 88 miles (142 km) long. It uses existing footpaths and tracks to stay as close to the river as is reasonably possible.

Charles I granted letters patent to William Sandy of Fladbury in 1636, who used his personal fortune to purchase the land and to build locks, weirs, channels etc to make the Avon navigable from Tewkesbury to Stratford and to within four miles of Warwick by 1641. Further improvements were made to the river above Evesham from 1664 allowing 30 ton barges to reach Stratford. Ownership of the navigation was formally divided into the Upper and Lower Avon in 1717, with Evesham being the dividing point. Whilst the Lower Avon from Evesham to Tewkesbury received some investment and remained in use, the Upper Avon between Evesham and Stratford gradually fell into decline and was effectively abandoned as a navigation in 1857, despite having been connected to the Stratford Canal in 1822. The Lower Avon was slightly more successful, and struggled on until the Second World War. by which time a single barge ran between Tewkesbury and Pershore, the river above Pershore becoming unnavigable.

The Lower Avon Navigation Trust Ltd was formed in 1950 and restoration from Tewkesbury to Evesham was achieved by 1962. The Stratford Canal was reopened in the same year. The Upper Avon was in worse condition and was not reopened until 1972. [3]


Clifford & Co - Bancroft Cruisers
The Clifford family also began running boats at Stratford around the turn of the century, and by 1912 were advertising the steam and motor launches Titania, George Washington, Grace Darling (1) and Robin Goodfellow. Clifford & Co maintained the largest fleet in Stratford until the late 1980s. In 1977 the Clifford fleet consisted of:-  Delta (c.1920 - 35ft - 34 pass), George Washington (23 pass), Mistress Quickly (1976 - 69 pass), Princess Marina (1) (18 pass), Royal (c.1910 - 22 pass) and Titania (1) (1906 - 36ft - 48 pass). In the 1960s they also owned a boat named Viola. By 1983 they had acquired My Lady Hilton (built 1973 - 52ft - 40 pass) replacing Mistress Quickly. My Lady Hilton was later renamed Grace Darling (2). Princess Marina (2) (1976 - 50ft - 60 pass) had arrived by 1985, the fleet then being  Delta (c.1920 - 35ft - 34 pass), Grace Darling (2) (1973 - 52ft - 40 pass), Princess Marina (2) (1976 - 50ft - 60 pass),  Delta (c.1910 - 30ft -22 pass) and Titania (1) (1906 - 36ft - 48 pass). The two large 1970s boats were of narrow boat design. By this time the fleet was being marketed as Bancroft Cruisers (the fleet sailing from Bancroft Gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon). The fleet was unchanged in 1989, but by 1991 the remaining older vessels  Delta ,  Royal  and Titania (1) had been sold and the two remaining boats Grace Darling (2) (1973 - 52ft - 40 pass) and Princess Marina (2) (1976 - 50ft - 60 pass) were sailing from Moat House Hotel Wharf as Bancroft Cruisers.  Delta  moved to Hereford, but I have not traced the fate of  Royal  and Titania (1). Grace Darling (2) was replaced by the broader beamed new Rita Ellen in 2009 (55ft - 52 pass). The Moat House Hotel has now become the Holiday Inn.


Avon Boating (Rose Family)
The Rose family introduced trip boats to the River Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1898 with the Swan of Avon. She must have been quite a pioneer, being powered by an Austro-Daimler petrol engine. She was joined in 1900 by the Rose of Avon. In 1905 the family ordered the Britannia from the famous Oxford boat builders Salter Brothers. She was delivered to Stratford via the canal system, and remains in the current fleet, now powered by a British Leyland engine. These three boats maintained their fleet until the early 1990s when their rivals Clifford & Co reduced their fleet to two narrow boats. The fleet was expanded  with four wooden launches all built by Borwick of Bowness on Lake Windermere, although they came from various owners. These are all in current service and are named Mayflower, Spray, Lotus and Lady. The first three of these boats (the larger ones) have all been converted to battery/electric propulsion. They are moored overnight downstream of the tramway bridge and run from the quay at the Bancroft gardens. Britannia and Lady were moored upstream of the bridge in 2009 and operate from a pontoon by the Avon Boating boat house, where small rowing and motor boats are available for hourly hire. The fleet is divided like this because the larger launches cannot fit under the tramway bridge after heavy rains, as happened on my second visit. Britannia was not running in 2011, presumably for restoration. Swan of Avon was in the shed, receiving a vertical boiler and steam engine. In 2010 Avon Boating acquired an additional open boat named Paddler (or Avon Paddler?) which originally worked at Longleat and was a two-decked replica stern-wheeler. The upper deck and paddle wheel have now been removed. the vessel had no displayed name in October 2011 (hence the possible confusion). A large new vessel Titania (2), with both saloon and open area was delivered in 2011.




 


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Related Simplon River Boat Pages

Associated Simplon Pages
References
  Trip Out Guides - Written & published by G.P.Hamer - editions 1977-2011
          
Trip Out Guides are available from Geoffrey Hamer, PO Box 485, Southall, UB1 9BH

  Cruising Monthly - www.cruisingmonthly.com
  Josephine Jeremiah - The River Avon - Philimore 1999 [1]
  Josephine Jeremiah - The River Severn - Philimore 1998 [2]
  www.en.wikipedia.org [3]

  Jamie Davies - Shakespeare's Avon - Oakwood1996 [4]



Stratford-upon-Avon
Boat Trips on the River Avon from Stratford



E.Davis
Stratford-upon-Avon

In Edwardian times E.Davis ran a boat hire business from the Ferry Boat House adjacent to the Shakespeare Memorial Gardens grounds. He rented out a wide range of pleasure boats, canoes, punts, etc which were available for hire by the hour, day, week or season.

No images available






Clifford & Co Ltd - Bancroft Cruisers
Stratford-upon-Avon

The Clifford family also began running boats at Stratford around the turn of the century, and by 1912 were advertising the steam and motor launches Titania, George Washington, Grace Darling (1) and Robin Goodfellow. Clifford & Co maintained the largest fleet in Stratford until the late 1980s. In 1977 the Clifford fleet consisted of:-  Delta (c.1920 - 35ft - 34 pass), George Washington (23 pass), Mistress Quickly (1976 - 69 pass), Princess Marina (1) (18 pass), Royal (c.1910 - 22 pass) and Titania (1) (1906 - 36ft - 48 pass). In the 1960s they also owned a boat named Viola. By 1983 they had acquired My Lady Hilton (built 1973 - 52ft - 40 pass) replacing Mistress Quickly. My Lady Hilton was later renamed Grace Darling (2). Princess Marina (2) (1976 - 50ft - 60 pass) had arrived by 1985, the fleet then being  Delta (c.1920 - 35ft - 34 pass), Grace Darling (2) (1973 - 52ft - 40 pass), Princess Marina (2) (1976 - 50ft - 60 pass),  Delta (c.1910 - 30ft -22 pass) and Titania (1) (1906 - 36ft - 48 pass). The two large 1970s boats were of narrow boat design.

By this time the fleet was being marketed as Bancroft Cruisers (the fleet sailing from Bancroft Gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon) and I assume there was no longer a Clifford connection. The fleet was unchanged in 1989, but by 1991 the remaining older vessels  Delta ,  Royal  and Titania had been sold and the two remaining boats Grace Darling (2) (1973 - 52ft - 40 pass) and Princess Marina (2) (1976 - 50ft - 60 pass) were sailing from Moat House Hotel Wharf as Bancroft Cruisers.  Delta  moved to Hereford, but I have not traced the fate of  Royal  and Titania (1). Grace Darling (2) was replaced by new Rita Ellen in 2009 (55ft - 52 pass), a wider beamed vessel than Grace Darling (2). The adjacent hotel is now a Holiday Inn. Sightseeing trips are usually run by the Grace Darling (2), which has open sides which can be enclosed by roll-down clear sheets. Rita Ellen is generally used for charters and dining cruises.



 Timetable for Princess Marina (2) sailings
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
Timetable - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Postcard showing the Bancroft Cruises fleet seen between 1985-91 with Princess Marina (2) on the right
The three remaining older vessels shown are Delta ,  Royal  and Titania

Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Titania (1906-1990)
Clifford & Co Ltd - Bancroft Cruisers

Titania at Stratford-upon-Avon as a steamer
TITANIA - Clifford & Co - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Titania and other Clifford boats at Stratford-upon-Avon
TITANIA - Clifford & Co - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Titania and other Clifford boats at Stratford-upon-Avon
Enlarged image from the card above
TITANIA - Clifford & Co - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Royal and Titania at Stratford-upon-Avon as a motor boat
TITANIA - Clifford & Co - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Royal and Titania at Stratford-upon-Avon as a motor boat
Enlarged image from the card above
TITANIA - Clifford & Co - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Royal (1906-1990)
Clifford & Co Ltd - Bancroft Cruisers

Royal and Titania at Stratford-upon-Avon as a motor boat
TITANIA - Clifford & Co - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Royal and Titania at Stratford-upon-Avon as a motor boat
Enlarged image from the card above
TITANIA - Clifford & Co - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Delta (1906-1990)
Clifford & Co Ltd - Bancroft Cruisers

Titania at Stratford-upon-Avon as a steamer
DELTA - Clifford & Co - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Titania at Stratford-upon-Avon as a steamer
Enlarged image from the card above
DELTA - Clifford & Co - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Grace Darling (2)
Clifford & Co Ltd - Bancroft Cruisers

Grace Darling (2) at the Moat House Hotel Wharf (in 2011 the Holiday Inn) in Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
GRACE DARLING (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Grace Darling (2) at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
GRACE DARLING (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Grace Darling (2) at  Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
GRACE DARLING (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Grace Darling (2) at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
GRACE DARLING (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Grace Darling (2) at  Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
GRACE DARLING (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Grace Darling (2) (left) and her replacement Rita Ellen
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
RITA ELLEN - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) with both Grace Darling (2) and her replacement Rita Ellen on the left
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Princess Marina (2) (c1985- )
Bancroft Cruisers

Princess Marina (2) (1976 - 50ft - 60 pass) had arrived in the Clifford fleet by 1985. At this time the fleet was being marketed as Bancroft Cruisers (the fleet sailed from Bancroft Gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon) and I assume that at there was no longer a Clifford family connection. By 1991 the last three older vessels in the fleet had been sold and the two remaining boats Grace Darling (2) (1973 - 52ft - 40 pass) and Princess Marina (2) (1976 - 50ft - 60 pass) were sailing from Moat House Hotel Wharf. Grace Darling (2) was replaced by new Rita Ellen in 2009 (55ft - 52 pass), a wider beamed vessel than Grace Darling (2). The adjacent hotel is now a Holiday Inn. Sightseeing trips are usually run by the Grace Darling (2), which has open sides which can be enclosed by roll-down clear sheets. Rita Ellen is generally used for charters and dining cruises.


Postcard showing the Bancroft Cruises fleet seen between 1985-91 with Princess Marina (2) on the right
The three remaining older vessels shown are Delta ,  Royal  and Titania

Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) arriving at the Moat House Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) arriving at the Moat House Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) arriving at the Moat House Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) arriving at the Moat House Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) arriving at the Moat House Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th November 2008
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) at Stratford-upon-Avon with both Grace Darling (2) and her replacement Rita Ellen on the left
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) at Stratford-upon-Avon with both Grace Darling (2) and her replacement Rita Ellen on the left
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) at Stratford-upon-Avon with both Grace Darling (2) and her replacement Rita Ellen behind
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princess Marina (2) arriving at the Holiday Inn Wharf in Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th October 2011
PRINCESS MARINA (2) - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Rita Ellen (2009- )
Bancroft Cruisers

Grace Darling (2) and Rita Ellen at the Moat House Hotel Wharf (in 2011 the Holiday Inn) in Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
RITA ELLEN - Bancroft Cruisers - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Avon Boating

The Rose family introduced trip boats to the River Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1898 with the Swan of Avon. She must have been quite a pioneer, being powered by an Austro-Daimler petrol engine. She was joined in 1900 by the Rose of Avon. In 1905 the family ordered the Britannia from the famous Oxford boat builders Salter Brothers. She was delivered to Stratford via the canal system, and remains in the current fleet, now powered by a British Leyland engine.

In the early 1990s the ex-Clifford fleet of Bancroft Cruisers reduced to two narrow boats running from the Moat House Hotel. The Avon Boating fleet was expanded with four wooden launches all built by Borwick of Bowness on Lake Windermere, although they came from various owners. These are all in current service and are named
Mayflower, Spray, Lotus and Lady. The first three of these boats (the larger ones) have all been converted to battery/electric propulsion. They are moored overnight downstream of the tramway bridge and run from the quay at the Bancroft gardens (previously used by Clifford). Britannia and Lady are moored upstream of the bridge and operate from a pontoon by the Avon Boating boat house, where small rowing and motor boats are available for hourly hire. The fleet is divided like this because the larger launches cannot fit under the tramway bridge after heavy rains, as happened on my second visit.

I first visited the Avon Boating fleet on 4th August 2009. I had excellent trips on both
Britannia and Spray, but the weather was dull and photography not easy. I returned in better weather on 6th August when most of the images below were taken. On this visit I arrived early before services had started, and witnessed the efforts made by the crews to prepare the boats for daily service, with all windows carefully cleaned and all brightwork polished. This is a beautifully maintained fleet of classic launches, run by enthusiastic and helpful crews.

To travel on these boats contact:-
www.avon-boating.co.uk



Swan of Avon (1898)

Swan of Avon was the first trip boat on the River Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon when delivered in 1898. She was a very early passenger motor vessel, being powered by a single cylinder Austro-Daimler engine. Her builders are unknown. She is 31ft 6in long, and has a licence for 22 passengers. Swan of Avon was fully restored in 1997/98 and given a steam engine at this time. This was a two cylinder compound engine built by Simpson Strickland at Dartmouth, one of eight built between 1896 and 1912. The engine had been restored in 1975 for use on the 30ft launch Selina. The Swan has a vertical fire-tube boiler built by Austin & Pickersgill at South shields in 1987 for a similar launch, but not used.


Swan of Avon moored at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
SWAN OF AVON


The boiler of Swan of Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon being worked on by Ed Rose
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 6th August 2009
SWAN OF AVON boiler - Ed Rose





Rose of Avon (1900)

Rose of Avon joined the fleet in 1900. She still exists, but requires restoration.

No images currently available





Britannia (1905)

Britannia joined the fleet c.1905 (sources give dates 1904,1905 and 1906). She was built by the famous Oxford boat builders Salter Brothers, and sailed to Stratford-upon-Avon via the canal system. She is currently powered by a British Leyland 1800cc engine. She is licensed for 36 passengers (43 until 2007).


Britannia leaving Bancroft Gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 6th August 2009
BRITANNIA


Britannia approaching the old tramway bridge at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 6th August 2009
BRITANNIA


Britannia approaching the old tramway bridge at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 6th August 2009
BRITANNIA


Britannia upstream of Stratford in the rain
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
BRITANNIA


Britannia passing the Bancroft gardens
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
BRITANNIA


On board Britannia in the rain
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
BRITANNIA


Slater's builders plate on board Britannia
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
BRITANNIA





Mayflower (1912)

Mayflower was built by Borwick of Bowness on Lake Windermere. She was acquired by Avon Boating around 1991 and has been converted to battery/electric propulsion. She is licensed for 59 passengers.


Mayflower at her overnight mooring by Bancroft Gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 6th August 2009
MAYFLOWER


Mayflower leaving Bancroft Gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 6th August 2009
MAYFLOWER


Mayflower leaving Bancroft Gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 6th August 2009
MAYFLOWER


Mayflower passing Bancroft Gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 6th August 2009
MAYFLOWER





Spray (1925)

Spray was built by Borwick of Bowness on Lake Windermere. She was acquired by Avon Boating around 1991 and has been converted to battery/electric propulsion. She is licensed for 58 passengers.


Spray alongside the Bancroft quay before the day's services at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
SPRAY


Spray preparing for the day's service at Bancroft gardens, Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
SPRAY


Spray approaching Bancroft gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
SPRAY


Spray approaching Bancroft gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
SPRAY





Lotus (1929)

Lotus was built by Borwick of Bowness on Lake Windermere. She was acquired by Avon Boating around 1991 and has been converted to battery/electric propulsion. She is licensed for 58 passengers.


Lotus approaching Bancroft gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
LOTUS


Lotus at Bancroft gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
LOTUS


Lotus passing the ferry at Stratford-upon-Avon in the rain
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
LOTUS





Lady (1933)

Lady was built by Borwick of Bowness on Lake Windermere. She was acquired by Avon Boating around 1991 and remains motor propelled, with a British Leyland engine. She is licensed for 59 passengers.


Lady moored by the old tramway bridge at Stratford-upon-Avon, with Britannia
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 6th August 2009
LADY


Lady moored by the Avon Boating boat house pontoon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 6th August 2009
LADY






Stratford Ferry

There has been a ferry across the Avon for many years. In the early 20th century this was a punt which was rowed across from the Ferry Boat House at the Wash. In 1937 a new chain ferry boat named Malvolio was built by local boat builder C.M.Collins. For ten years it free, after which a penny charge was made. Sam Gee took over the ferry in 1986


Stratford Ferry - all the 04/08/09 images were taken in torrential rain
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
Stratford Ferry - Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009


Stratford Ferry
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
Stratford Ferry - Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009


Stratford Ferry
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
Stratford Ferry - Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009


Stratford Ferry
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
Stratford Ferry - Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009


Stratford Ferry and the Ferry House
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
Stratford Ferry - Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009


Stratford Ferry and the Ferry House
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009
Stratford Ferry - Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th August 2009






River Avon, Avon Bridges & Stratford Town

Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th October 2010
Stratford-upon-Avon - www.simplonpc.co.uk



















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