Martin & Jackie Henson, Neil Fowkes & Debbie Johnson – Many Boats, No Horses (yet)

In a slight change to the usual I Am Beeston format; we are covering the four joint custodians of the Boat & Horses pub in the Rylands. This feature accompanies Amy’s write up of the pub itself, which also appears in this issue.


“I was born in New Ollerton, North Notts. When I left school, I joined the navy and was based in Portsmouth. It was here that I met Jackie, who ran one of the pubs in the city. We dated, got married and jointly ran a pub there.

In 2001 we moved back to New Ollerton, and I got a job in construction. During 2016 we moved onto a narrowboat in the marina, and the Boat & Horses became our local. We fell in love with the area when we walked the dog around the Attenborough Nature Reserve. Now that we own the Boat & Horses, we split our time between the boat and the pub. I just love to open the hatch of the boat and take in the scene. Especially in early spring when there’s frost on the ropes.‌

I’m not a very cautious person and I just happen to mention to these three that it would be a good idea to see if we could buy this pub, despite the tricky financial climate we are all in currently. We agreed and jointly signed an agreement on a beer mat. That was on the 27th January this year, we opened the doors on the first of March.”


“As Martin said, I’m Portsmouth born and bred and have spent a lot of time in the pub industry. But when I moved here, I started working for the NHS. I am a cautious person, but I love the Rylands so much. It just made sense. We see the pub more of a community hub. My favourite place in Beeston is on our boat, especially when it’s really quiet.

It’s early days, but we are achieving what we have set out to do. We are all passionate about the Rylands. We are hoping to be involved in this year’s Oxjam event.”‌


“I came from Ripley, and couldn’t wait to leave. So when I was 16, I joined the army, as part of the Royal Engineers. I was in the army for 25 years. Left in 2001. I was in Northern Ireland for 4 ½ years, the Gulf between 1990-91 and Bosnia three years later. One place in Beeston I really like, is sitting at Owen’s Place.

Not wanting to go back to Ripley, I bought a narrowboat which was moored in Castle Marina. I moved to the Rylands so I could see these good friends. I sold my boat to finance the pub, which has been a significant investment.

Did you know that the Rylands haven’t had a fish & chip shop for over 40 years? So, we wanted to make Fridays fish and chip night. Not being able to cook them ourselves, we got Rask’s mobile chippy in. There was some strange but excited looks from people down the street when the van pulled up for the first time. But it has been a great success, and something positive for the community.”


“My birthplace is Newthorpe. I started boating at 18. I also lived on a boat at Castle Marina, and then also moved to the Rylands. I’ve been coming to the Rylands for 20 years. I worked for Players for 34 years, in their accounts department. I’ve known Neil for about 13-14 years now but we got together 18 months ago. We are planning to get married next year.

I like the Weir Fields area, but also like shopping in Beeston, going to the Arc Cinema and eating at the Pudding Pantry.”