THANKS to readers of The Press, today we are able to bring you the final chapter in the story of York's most famous barge, the Reklaw.

It's very timely, considering the former building merchant's dredger that cruised up and down York's rivers for more than 50 years will mark its centenary next year.

As previously reported, the Reklaw was owned by Walker's of York until it was sold in 1990. It was later renovated and turned into a pleasure craft offering river trips to disabled people.

It was once moored on the Foss, behind The Press's former HQ in Walmgate.

Today, we can tell you what happened next.

In 2001, the Reklaw was sold to a private owner, Jess Fussey.

Jess got in touch after being inundated with messages from readers following The Press's recent nostalgia story on the Reklaw.

He wanted to bring us up to date and tell us what had happened to the famous barge over the past 23 years - and share what it has been like renovating her into a house boat and living onboard 24/7.

York Press: Jess Fussey above his barge Reklaw, forever a part of York river historyJess Fussey above his barge Reklaw, forever a part of York river history

Boat lover Jess, 59, admits he has spent a small fortune ('I'd rather not say how much') on turning the old dredger into a comfortable home.

He now has a permanent mooring on the Aire and Calder canal just outside Castleford, living on the converted dredger with his Patterdale dog Flint.


Read more:

* York's hidden history: what really happened to the Reklaw

* Your memories: J H Walker builders' merchants and Reklaw barge


So what is it like, living on the Reklaw?

"It's fantastic!" begins Jess. "It's roomy - like living in a small bungalow! It's the size of a good flat."

Jess bought her in 2001 but only finished the renovations two years ago.

"When I bought it, it was in quite a sad state - it had quite an institutionalised look, with grubby lino everywhere.

"It took me a long time to get it finished. There were 12 bunks and a disabled toilet. I've now split it into thirds and have created two double berths, one en suite, and a large living area and kitchen. I've made it into a home.

York Press: Fitted kitchen with all mod cons of the Reklaw. Photo by Jess FusseyFitted kitchen with all mod cons of the Reklaw. Photo by Jess Fussey (Image: Jess Fussey)

"Each room is about 15 feet. And it was really fortunate that the previous owners put a roof on and make it strong enough for people to sit on. It's like having a roof garden and it's really beautiful to go out there and sit.

"I am totally self-sufficient too - it has solar panels and wind turbines.

"It's very solid - even through the recent gales - you wouldn't know you were on a boat, it just sits there."

Despite its large size - 60ft long, 15.5ft wide and weighing 90 tonnes - Jess says the Reklaw is easy to manoeuvre. "It handles so well and is the most well-balanced boat ever. An absolute dream to manoeuvre."

York Press: Dining area inside the Reklaw. Photo by Jess FusseyDining area inside the Reklaw. Photo by Jess Fussey (Image: Jess Fussey)

He has had many people comment on the boat over the years.

"I was moored up at The Armouries in Leeds and there was a black tie event. A bloke came out and told me how he had been at university in York and remembered the Reklaw and how he would see this thing come up the river and it terrified him!"

Jess said he was delighted that our Press story jogged a lot of memories of the Reklaw.

He said: "There is a lot of love for that boat; lots of tales; lots of stories."

Your memories

Readers have been sharing their memories of the Reklaw in our nostalgia group on Facebook, Why We Love York - Memories.

Carl Van-Minnen: "Omg this brings back a lot of memories for me. It used to be a regular sight up and down the Ouse or moored off Foss Islands Road."

David Craven: "The Reklaw barge, I remember Bill Sweeting being on that, they used to go up to Linton Locks for the sand."

Jean Robinson Powell: "I remember the Reklaw every Sunday when walking to granny and grandad's on Foss Islands."

Barrie Cryer: "Walker’s building merchants was the first place I worked when I was 15 in 1975. Good memories."

Tell us more

What are your memories of the Reklaw?

Join the conversation online at Why We Love York - Memories (

Don't miss Wednesday's Press when our Nostalgia supplement is dedicated to the full story of the Reklaw, York's most famous barge.