For the love of boats! Downsizing wasn’t difficult for John & Jen.
The former Cardiff Marina boatyard owner has become the first resident to move into Bayscape.
John Freemantle and his wife, Jen, are now the proud owners of a two-bed apartment overlooking the marina – a place that holds much history for the sea-faring duo.
John started his career training to be a school teacher at a local college, but his passion for boats was always bubbling away in his mind. John took a job during the summer holidays at a boatyard in Penarth and it became clear to him that teaching was not going to be for him. Knowing this, John gave up his teaching course and took a full time job at the boatyard…and the rest is history.
John moved from Penarth and started his own boat building workshop in South Clive Street in 1972 with British Road Services – now National Freight Consortium. In 1982, the business was expanded and relocated to a greenfield site within Cardiff Marina, which is now the exact location of Bayscape. The boat yard at the time stored around 20-30 boats. Long before the Cardiff Bay Barrage was built, the water was tidal and boats moored in the middle of the river.
As there was no road to the marina, John built a track to enable him to get to and from the boat yard. In 1985 he put pontoons for the boats and laid the first cement for the slipway which was all created by John’s own hands.
In 2001 the Cardiff Bay Barrage was completed, and the council tried to move John and the boat yard to Caerphilly. John says: “There was one issue, there was no water in Caerphilly.” Along with Cardiff Bay Yacht Club and Cardiff Yacht Club, John petitioned to the House of Lords to stay, a process that took over five years. Thankfully, they won, and the boat yard continued to be a great success.
In 2007 John and Jen set their sights on retiring and sold the boat yard - which had grown to storing more than 250 boats - to a family friend of their business partner who used to visit the boat yard as a child. And so Bayscape began.
One day John and Jen were walking along the water’s edge and looked across to see the unique development taking shape in the exact spot of John’s beloved boat yard, where 30 years previously they brought in the original electrics, telephone line and water. Then in a spur of a moment John asked, ‘How do you fancy living there, in the marina?’ and with little hesitation the couple decided to move back to where they had spent so many happy years.
John and Jen’s apartment is located in the exact spot of the previous boat yard office, but this time with an impressive vista from a higher position.
Downsizing from a four-bedroom detached house with a mature garden, the couple now own a fresh and new two bed apartment with a wonderful open balcony space full of blooming flowers and plants. Jen admits it ‘feels like the Mediterranean’ on a summer’s day and relished buying the new outdoor furniture for their oversized balcony.
Adjusting to life in their new apartment has been much easier than they thought. The open plan kitchen, lounge and dining space has given them a fresh approach to living and the spare bedroom is perfect for when their grandchildren come to stay. But their favourite room in the house is most certainly the outdoor space, which is an extension to the lounge. The large windows look out to the Cardiff International White-Water Rafting Centre and the balcony overlooks the marina and the boats below.
Jen says: “We love living here, it feels really safe and there’s a great sense of community. I look forward to coming home”.