AN award-winning Hampshire marina is already taking bookings for 66 new berths which are not due to open until the year after next.

Yachtsmen are queuing up to reserve a place at Buckler's Hard Yacht Harbour, which is being given a multi-million-pound upgrade.

Under plans approved by the New Forest National Park Authority, the number of berths will rise from 198 to 265.

Earlier this year Buckler's Hard was named Coastal Marina of the Year by the Yacht Harbour Association after fending off competition from 160 other facilities.

In 2017 a new £400,000 complex housing showers and toilets was opened by round-the-world yachtsman Mike Golding.

Lord Montagu is chairman of Beaulieu Enterprises Ltd, which owns the site.

New Forest Post:

He said: "We have just started work on a £2m reconfiguration of the yacht harbour, which is designed to secure the marina's future by providing larger berths and more convenient walk-ashore pontoons.

"The first phase is due to be completed by March and the second phase will take place the following winter.

"While the aim is to keep the look and feel of the place the same, the end result will be an extra 66 berths and moorings for larger vessels.

"The year 2021 may seem like a long way off but reservations are already being taken for the new berths.

"Needless to say the work is subject to careful environmental planning and conditions issued by Natural England and the Environment Agency to ensure the continued protection of the river habitat."

New Forest Post:

Lord Montagu was speaking at the Beaulieu Estate dinner, at which he reviewed the key events of 2019 and also looked to the future.

The Beaulieu River has belonged to the Montagu family for 400 years and is one of the few privately-owned estuaries in the world.

Buckler’s Hard is a former shipbuilding centre that produced some of the vessels that fought at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Nelson’s favourite, HMS Agamemnon, was among the ships that were launched at Buckler’s Hard in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

During the Second World War the tiny hamlet was used to build motor torpedo boats, while the river itself became a base for hundreds of craft waiting to take part in the D-Day landings.

Buckler’s Hard was also the home port of round-the-world sailor Sir Francis Chichester, who circumnavigated the globe in 1967.

His yacht, Gipsy Moth IV, often goes on show to the public.