Olympic retractable tunnel helps Stafford boat maintenance

A retractable tunnel used to welcome athletes competing at the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games is now in Stafford being used as a shelter for canal boat owners undertaking boat maintenance.

We recently supplied the 7m-long refurbished retractable tunnel, which was situated at the entrance to the Olympic Basketball Arena, to Stafford Boat Club to enable its members to carry out vital boat maintenance without having to endure the wind and rain.

Stafford Boat Club is situated on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal in Wildwood and has 180 members. Formed in 1964, it has steadily built up a wide range of facilities, including a club house built entirely by its members, but did not have anywhere that was dry and warm where they could undertake boat maintenance during the winter – until now.

John Mountfort, commodore of Stafford Boat Club, said: “Every so often members need to take their boats out of the water to paint the hulls or mend the propellers, but we didn’t have anywhere under cover where they could do their work.

“Then one of our members suggested using a retractable tunnel as a temporary shelter, which he had seen elsewhere. We decided that would be perfect, because it could be pulled over the boats while they were being worked on and taken away afterwards.

“It was just great timing that Spaciotempo had only just got its retractable tunnels back from the Olympics when we enquired. Not only does the tunnel suit our purposes perfectly, the fact that it was used at the Basketball Arena over the summer has become a real talking point.”

The tunnel is made from PVC stretched over an aluminium frame and runs on rubber tyres. When it is not in use, it compresses to a depth of just 1m, which makes it easy to store away.

As part of a full refurbishment carried out before it was pressed into action at the boat club, the tunnel was widened by another metre to accommodate the width of the boats, with enough room for the owners to work alongside.

Scott Jameson, director of sales for Spaciotempo, said: “As part of the agreement to supply the tunnels to the Olympic Games, we agreed a buy back scheme which enabled them to meet LOCOG’s sustainability targets.

“We are really pleased that this retractable tunnel is now providing much-needed shelter for Stafford Boat Club.

“There is no doubt that the whole country benefitted from a feel good factor during the Olympic and Paralympic Games and we hope that this tunnel will, in its own way, act as a souvenir of an unforgettable summer.