Hirst and friends in bid to buy Chelsea boatyard

Leading lights from art and commerce including Britain's wealthiest artist, Damien Hirst, are leading a bid to own a historic London boatyard in one of the capital's most salubrious postcodes.

Hirst has joined partners, including entrepreneur Simon Woodroffe, to purchase the £4.75m Chelsea boatyard, once home to some of the capital's greatest actors and musicians, including Sir Laurence Olivier and Nick Cave. Current residents include Hirst and his wife Maia Norman, Mr Woodroffe and Sir Bob Geldof's girlfriend Jeanne Marine.

The Chelsea Reach Residents Association, of which both Hirst and Mr Woodroffe are members, has formed a new company, Chelsea Houseboats, to buy the boatyard from its owner the Chelsea Yacht & Boat Company.

In the 1970s the yard became a cheap base for bohemians living opposite the Chelsea street, Cheyne Walk, where JMW Turner, George Best and Keith Richards once lived. Since then, inflating prices have increasingly attracted upmarket clientele.

"Living here is the most wonderful thing, it's the best thing I ever did," said Dr Andrew Cairncross, owner of a 46ft boat. "All the residents look out for one another, there's no intrusion. Our bid has been welcomed and I hope to contribute my share to the proposal".

Each resident is set to pay Chelsea Yacht & Boat Company a sum based on the size of their mooring. According to Dr Cairncross, residents are motivated by the hope of a long-term profit and greater security. The Chelsea Yacht & Boat Company, which charges residents mooring and maintenance charges, achieved an operating profit of £472,000 last year. An advertising hoarding facing the river produces a profit of £102,000 a year alone. The yard's 59 moorings account for a fifth of the total on the Thames in London. The yard, founded in 1935, is where many of the Normandy landing vessels were built.

Mr Woodroffe, the millionaire founder of the YO! Sushi restaurant chain, owns three boats, one of which is 84ft long. In 2006, he hosted a fancy dress party at one of his moorings, attended by Sir Bob Geldof.

"The river represents the last undeveloped piece of real estate in London," he said in a previous interview. "The potential has yet to be fully exploited, but I think people now realise living in a houseboat doesn't have to mean damp, cold or cramped conditions."

Hirst and Ms Norman own a boat each on the site.

According to Dr Cairncross, a former chair of the residents association, Chelsea Houseboats has welcomed the bid. Talks are continuing about how the move could be financed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Planning Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are currently looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Media & Advertising Sales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national business publishi...

Recruitment Genius: IT Service Desk Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity to join a p...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor / Assistant Quantity Surveyor

£23698 - £30978 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This not-for-profit company man...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones