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Wye Invader - The Impossible Journey?

Bring a 38 metre (124 foot) Dutch Barge across the Channel, sail it round the South Coast, up the River Severn to Chepstow, then up the River Wye to Hereford, which had not been navigated by any motorised vessel of any size in nearly 150 years - and then 23 years later, return back down the Wye, including passing over the famous Symonds Yat Rapids, to Sharpness for a re-fit - Impossible? - not for The Wye Invader and Frank Barton. Now, in November 2019 the story continues with Wye Invader Two - Details here.

The Story

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First built in Holland in 1930, the Wye Invader was originally named “Luctor”. There is some evidence (although sadly undocumented) she had an extra section fitted and was seconded by the German Army to become part of ‘Operation Sea Lion’, the German plan to invade Britain by sea that was scrapped in 1940.

In 1970 she was owned by the Hooiveld family who re-named her “Zwerver” and the family lived on board for several years. The Barge had several more owners in the years that followed and was finally bought as “Zilvermeeuw” by Frank Barton, a garage owner from Hereford who re-named her “Wye Invader” and who had plans to turn her into a floating restaurant moored in Hereford, UK. Planning Permission was later granted for this.

The Barge crossed the Channel, rounded the South Coast and turned into the River Severn Estuary. At Chepstow she joined the River Wye, navigating several tight, well known bridges and then the famous Symonds Yat Rapids. The journey to Hereford of 75 miles was to take longer than planned due to low river levels that summer and she reached her final mooring just above the Old Wye Bridge, Hereford on the 11th November 1989, the actual journey time was 20 hours spread over the 6 month period. The magazine Waterways World published 2 articles about the Wye Invader you can read here.

New Video!

Despite 12 months of meticulous preparations, Wye Invader Two made an unsuccessful attempt to navigate to Maisemore Weir 2 weeks ago. On Saturday 17th October 2020 the conditions looked right to make another attempt. This video is a record of that attempt, which has only been successful by a handful of narrowboats in the past 30 years or so.

Fit My Video Tag

For the return journey back down the River Wye in 2012 / 2013, Frank Barton kept a ‘Skippers Log’. This was produced in book format and over 200 copies are now in circulation. Written in Franks’ own style, the book makes interesting reading and can be downloaded for free as a PDF, just click the image.

Some recent interest was expressed via our Youtube page regarding the history of Hereford and the River Wye down to Chepstow. As we had many thousands of pages containing the history of Hereford following a Court case and those pages of information were now in the Public Domain, we've made them available here:

Legal case files

Hereford history

Chepstow & Hereford shipbuilders

Hereford fishing

With so little news this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was time for a little reflection - see a news item on "Not the Parting"