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Hollywood Star to visit Crick Boat Show

Boatman Peter Boyce of Braunston spent four weeks on set with a Hollywood film crew putting together the December 2023 Warner Bros release "Wonka", and will be making an appearance at the Crick Boat Show near Northampton - the UK's largest inland waterway event - over the Spring bank holiday weekend at the end of May. 

"It was a real eye-opener", said Peter, owner of 70ft long steel narrow boat 'Renfrew', which was originally built in 1936 for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company at W J Yarwood & Sons of Northwich. 

"In summer 2021 I was approached by the Historic Narrow Boat Club to see if Renfrew could be used in a Warner Bros film about the early life of Willy Wonka, the fictional chocolate magnate. The plot has the young Willy Wonka living with his mother on a barge in France, smuggling refugees past Germans, and they use an English narrow boat! - who was I to argue?" 

The action took place at various locations along the River Thames around the Reading area, with all the no-expense-spared trappings you might expect of a major Hollywood production . "It could be quite hectic with an entire crew milling about and doing their stuff. In reality it formed just a small part of the film itself, but I must admit the end result was really effective".

"Various cosmetic modifications were made to the boat including some temporary deconstruction, a repaint of the cabin sides and the addition of liberal amounts of theatrical brown gunge. Apparently in 'the old days' everything must appear grimy and tattered", Peter added. 

Narrow boat Renfrew will join 6 other colourful former working craft at the Crick Boat Show, forming the centrepiece of the Historic Narrow Boat Club's (HNBC) display, which will be open to visitors.