New mission on the Avon

Published: Wednesday, 08 March 2023

 AN OLD Warwickshire Avon favourite is back—on a new mission thanks to a generous entrepreneur who has been moved by a mighty river project, writes Juliette Kemp.

Former Avon Leisure Cruise vessel Frederick has been reborn as community trip boat Corsair, and she is now supporting Avon Navigation Trust’s (ANT) youth volunteering ANT Squad and other river enhancing schemes.

AvonCurairFloating stage

Formerly one of the late Dave Smith’s fleet of three, she was bought from Evesham Marina by business and music maestro Stuart Miller, whose Towpath Productions ( give musicians a free floating stage on the Oxford Canal.

Now Stuart is letting ANT use Corsair whilst it seeks grant funding to buy her at a cut price, because he’s a new fan of the charity’s work, explaining:

“The financial return was less significant to me than what she was going to be used for.

“Getting young people involved with the river and learning in such a lovely environment plus providing training for Volunteers of all ages is such a great project, which I am delighted to support.”

AvonMusiciansMoored at Evesham

The 38ft canopied 12 berths boat will be moored in Evesham with ANT Squad HQ Neptune, which was also refurbished by Evesham Marina, with its Managing Director Steve Smith remarking:

“We’re proud to have been the conduit between Stuart and ANT.

With ANT's Chief Executive Clive Matthews, adding:

“We are so grateful to Stuart for transferring ownership to us now whilst we seek grants to enable us to buy her. Corsair is a very valuable addition to our fleet.”

Now Captain and Curator at Towpath Productions, Stuart established the moving music venture when venues shut during Covid lockdowns, paying musicians, and poets, to perform at free floating concerts.

AvoncharityEntertain on two boats

They continue to entertain on two boats from April to October each year, either travelling the canal or sitting pretty in Mount Place in Jericho, with Stuart enthusing:

“It’s wonderful that I’ve got the financial freedom and more time for music. The music community, like the river community, is a lovely place to be.”

ANT Squad is the brainchild of Chief Executive Clive Matthews, who loved learning and exploring the Avon as a nipper and has long wanted to give new generations the opportunities and inspiration he had.

Corsair’s first outings are  the 28th, 29th and 30th of April as part of The Valley Evesham and ANT’s Blossom Trail River Cruises, launched by The Valley to mark the Wychavon’s Trail’s 40th anniversary.

(Tickets are available at