The Lots Ait, Brentford Boatyard

Following completion of the fantastic new pedestrian bridge linking Lots Ait Island to the Brentford shore, and major restoration work on the old boat building and repair facilities, the baotyard at Lots Ait will be re-opening for business in April 2012 as John's Boat Works at Lots Ait.

The regenerated boat yard has a slipway, tidal dry dock, workshops and exterior hard standing, and will offer a wide range of boatbuilding, repair and restoration services to boat owners on the Thames and Grand Union Canal in the London area.  They are hoping to attract owners of traditional wooden craft to the yard which will provide a superb facility for traditional and heritage boat building and restoration projects.

The Boatyard also has a number of self contained compact work spaces available inside their large workshop.  These are available for rent to local boat enthusiasts for boat building, restoration and self build projects and also professional craftsmen and women.  Each work space will include a power supply, workbench and tool storage.  Boat related use is preferred, but related joinery or other craft projects may be accommodated.

The reopening of the Lots Ait Boatyard marks a signficant stage in the regeneration of the Brentford river and canal waterfront, helping to maintain traditioanl riverfront craft activities in addition to providing a valuable resource for traditional boat owners on the Thames and a hub for the local boating communities.

For more information on John's Boat Works at Lots Ait and the work spaces available, visit and  Or call John Watson on 07875 000465.

Update posted Feb 2012

About the boatyard

The historic boatyard on the island of Lot's Ait, situated on the river Thames between Brentford shore and Kew Gardens in London, has been restored to active use by John's Boat Works Ltd, builders and restorers of traditional wooden boats.

On this overgrown island in the Thames, the rusting remains of boatyard docks, slipways and workship buildings still exist as welcome reminders of a proud river front industrial heritage that once stretched along the Brentford shore from the River Brent down towards Kew Bridge.


The boatyard on Lot's Ait was one of a number of boatbuilding businesses established in Brentford during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  The coming of motorways and containerisation changed the landscape of the tidal Thames from Rotherhithe to Richmond Lock and, in the process, the commercial traffic that dominated the Thames from the early days of the industrial revolution into the post war era entered a rapid and terminal decline.  As the river traffic dwindled, so the boatyards and support services lost business and, one by one, closed down.

One of the last yards to be closed in the late 1970s, Lot's Ait avoided the residential development that has taken place along much of the Thames, partly due to there being no means of access from the shore, and remains today virtually as it was left, with overgrown buildings and machinery paying testament to its former glory.

Now, under plans developed by the Thames and General Lighterage Co, owners of Lot's Ait, and John Watson, owner of John's Boat Works, the boatyard has been revitalised and restored to active use.


Restoration work included repairing the travelling crane to enable work to be performed on vessels in the tidal dock, while a restored trolley and lift engine enables vessels to be taken up the slipway railway for survey, inspection and short term repair. 

The workshop is equipped with a wood machine shop, stores and services to enable boat building, repair and restoration activities to be undertaken by professionals and DIY boat owners and boat builders.  The hardstanding area is available for winter storage as well as repair and restoration projects.  

The yard encourages traditional and heritage vessels to find a home for storage, maintenance and repair, alongside smaller commercial vessels.  The other tidal docks will be redeveloped as leisure moorings.

Planning consent was been granted for a footbridge, this provides pedestrian access to the island.  An area of the island fronting the Thames is to remain untouched to provide natural habitat for wildlife.

The boatyard project has been spearheaded by John Watson who owns and runs John's Boat Works Ltd.  Specialising in boatbuilding, maintenance, restoration and refurbishment of wooden boats and yachts, they also offer skilled tuition to all levels from novices to those with years of sailing experience.  His drive and passion for traditional boatbuilding has led to an exciting opportunity now being presented to the Thames community.

The future

John Watson commented: "The restored Lot's Ait Boatyard will bring back to Brentford an echo of its industrial heritage, and an opportunity for a new generation of craftsmen and women to acquire and apply traditional and modern boatbuilding and restoration skills."

Updated Feb 2013

NEWS - Consultants MDL Marina's, Peter Brett Associates, and Land & Water Ltd appointed to outline development plan

February 2016

The trust in partnership with the EDC have appointed consultants to undertake the creation of an outline development plan and feasibility study. The harbour is feasible as it has been used for 2000 or more years, the study will determine the cost and any funding gap to overcome to get the site back into use.


Consultants MDL Marina's Peter Brett Associates, and Land & Water Ltd have been hard at work surveying and taking soil samples for Northfleet Harbours outline development plan and feasibility study. This work will help determine the depths for a restored harbour and the level of dredging needed. 


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