Boat destroyed in suspected arson attack
Grant Greening-Steer, aged 38, of Mount Road, spent hundreds of hours working on the 44-foot, timber-framed boat, which was used in the Second World War.
The damage incident took place between 10.30pm and 11pm on Friday,May 17, when the boat was moored up at Tyle Mill Lock, near Sulhamstead, on the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Fire crews from Whitley Wood, Wokingham Road, Caversham Road and Tadley spent three hours tackling the blaze in which no-one was hurt.
The boat, built in 1939 and used in the war to carry men from larger ships back to port, sustained 90 per cent fire damage.
Heartbroken Mr Greening-Steer feels the damage will be too severe to see the vessel returned to its former glory.
He said: “I am absolutely devastated that something I have worked on so hard for the past year has been taken away from me.
“My question would be why? What did you gain from it?
“It is no different to losing your own home and that’s how it feels. I didn’t live on the boat, but I certainly could have done. It had all the facilities to.
“I have no insurance on the boat so it’s a total loss. It is hard to put a value on how much money I’ve lost, but I would say it was worth between £30,000 and £60,000.”
Despite the anguish of losing his beloved boat, Mr Greening-Steer insists the situation could have been far more serious.
He said: “There is a family of four in a boat right next to me, and I’m just thankful nothing happened to them. It could have been a lot, lot worse.
“It’s lucky I wasn’t in there either, I would never have made it out alive.”
A Facebook campaign has been set up to appeal for more information and a reward of £2,570 is being offered.
He also praised the efforts of other boat users for their support, with some donating money towards the reward.
Mr Greening-Steer, who had never previously owned a boat, also said that he only found out about the fire the following morning on the news.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101, or CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.