The boatyard is set at the end of a long walled lane in the peaceful priory village of Hurley. The lane leads to a millpond lined with wooden boats, around which sit the famous pitch-black sheds of Peter Freebody & Co.
In the first and largest of the workshops, under rafters hung with the ribs and spines of old boat molds, launches of all kinds and ages are being worked on. In here Edwardian saloon launches are re-planked and restored, the 60's Rivas are glossed and perfected. Little sailing dinghies are repaired, old steam boats are fine tuned and the new build slipper stern launches that Peter Freebody & Co is famous for are brought to life on the boat building platforms.
When spring arrives, and an air of excitement can be felt amongst the wildlife in the millpond, it's time for the annual craning in of all the launches which have been under the boatyard's care on the hard standing over the winter period. With bottoms freshly anti-fouled, Roy the crane driver, arrives with his 35 ton crane, and the team work together like a well oiled machine to launch the boats back into their natural environment.
The fixed swing jib crane and dock allow boats to be lifted in and out at other times of the year for servicing, testing, launching and retrieval.
In 1962 , Peter Freebody, with the help of numerous friends and villagers, set about with spades to dig out and create the slipway which remains at the heart of the business today. This ambitious task required Peter to wake periodically through the night over the period of a week or so to switch on a water pump to keep Father Thames at bay. The spoil heap can still be seen from the office window and has become a welcome home to many small creatures.
The chandlery store is an aladdin's cave of materials. Fenders, oars and early steering wheels hang from walls and ceiling, old ropes tumble out of wicker baskets and boxes of screws sit neatly stacked in regimented order above shelves of modern day paints and varnishes.
Resident ducks, moorhens, grebes and dabchicks all use the millpond as a feeding ground, together with a pair of swans which take refuge in the slipway and are often found wandering into the workshops in the hope of food.
In April, the swallows return from their winter vacation to spend the spring and summer months, nesting under the boathouse eves, feeding their young on mayflies and practising aerobatics over the bay in preparation for their epic flight back to Africa in the Autumn.
On hazy evenings, the elusive kingfisher can be spotted flitting through the millpool bay, at times alighting on a bow or stern to await a tasty fishy treat.
Beneath the surface of the water, minnows, perch, dace and chubb jostle for space in their own watery world, and the lone pike lurks like a submarine in the shallows of the river, waiting to surprise some poor unsuspecting fish.