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London’s hippest houseboat: Dutch barge with three bedrooms, cinema and Battersea mooring for sale for £1.8m

Evening Standard Homes & Property logo Evening Standard Homes & Property 01/07/2022 Ruth Bloomfield

During her working life Bosco was a humble cargo vessel hauling grain and coal along the canals of Europe.

But this 1950s Dutch barge has now been converted into one of the most stylish – and expensive — floating homes London has ever seen.

And for £1.8m this most unusual family home could be all yours.

Bosco, which comes with a 120 year mooring at Oyster Pier, Battersea, has just gone on sale with The Modern House estate agents.

The Bosco houseboat moored in Battersea, on sale for £1.8 million via The Modern House (The Modern House) © Provided by Evening Standard Homes & Property The Bosco houseboat moored in Battersea, on sale for £1.8 million via The Modern House (The Modern House)

Bosco’s current owners are Claire and Alistair Langhorn, directors of Lab Architects, who bought the barge in 2016 as an empty shell. “We saw this enormous space and thought: What can we do with it?” said Claire.

The couple already had some experience with boat conversions: their office is based in another barge moored at Cadogan Pier in Chelsea.

Their home, however, was a flat in Fulham and they had no particular plans to leave.

“The thing is that we don’t really have any security of tenure at Cadogan Pier, and there was a point a few years ago when we were genuinely concerned that we might have to leave – we might end up with a boat and nowhere to put it,” explained Claire.

Bosco has fantastic views over the Thames and its own cinema (Modern House) © Provided by Evening Standard Homes & Property Bosco has fantastic views over the Thames and its own cinema (Modern House)

Claire, 50, and Alistair, 51, decided to insure themselves against this possibility by buying the mooring in Battersea – and to rent it out unless they needed it. Then Bosco came up for sale, and since they had somewhere to put her they decided to buy and renovate her.

“We had no intention at that point of living on a boat,” said Claire. “We thought we would maybe do it and sell it, but we ended up, inevitably, designing it as somewhere we would like for ourselves. We had outgrown our flat, the children were teenagers and we thought it would be a great adventure.”

Restoring the boat took nine months, and Claire, Alistair, Honor, now 18, and Fred, 16, moved in in 2018.

At 2,150 sq ft Bosco is the same size as a typical three-bedroom house.

 (The Modern House) © Provided by Evening Standard Homes & Property (The Modern House)

And, with her steel and glass winter garden, set on a mirrored plinth on the deck, she is also the antithesis of traditional canal boat chic: forget cramped spaces, and gaudy colour schemes, this houseboat is an exercise in neutral colours and stylish finishes.

Little luxuries include a cinema room tucked into the bow of the boat, while the winter garden’s four doors can be fully opened in summer to create an inside-outside space.

Below deck the steel hold now contains a master bedroom — with a bathroom clad in aubergine-coloured polished plaster — plus two more children’s bedrooms, a family bathroom, a living room and a study.

Now, with Honor off to university, the couple have decided their nautical adventure is over, and plan to return to Fulham.

“Living on the river is great – peaceful and calm, and slightly otherworldly,” said Claire. “But we no longer need so much space, and living on a boat is very different to living on land. It is a commitment.

“Most people on the river are real characters so its not the same as living in a flat and closing the front door behind you. There is constant movement, and you have to deal with practical things like things washing up around you.”

There are also running costs to consider. Although Bosco has a long term mooring her future owners will have to cover annual fees, including service charge, of around £8,000.

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