Our Story

When Richard Meins purchased the old 1960s Guildford Boat House in 2015, he had an instinct that he could create something special.

The building was worn and the boat hire business, Leroy’s, had become unprofitable and out of operation for a few years. A sad end to a name that had been historic in Guildford, with the Leroy’s brothers founding their first pleasure boat hire in the town in the late nineteenth century.

Richard wanted to reawaken the boat hire as a social enterprise and create a versatile building with a riverside café around it. As one of the founders and trustee of local charity, the halow project, The Boathouse would also have spaces to help facilitate halow’s work and the young people they supported.

The question became how to make the building profitable yet engaging and an inspirational community spot. It was a subject much discussed over Sunday lunches with his four adult children.

As a freelancer, Richard’s eldest daughter Jessica had seen coworking take off in London and believed this type of work space would be a way to establish the atmosphere and community that Richard had imagined.

A concept began to come together.

The Boathouse would combine thoughtful spaces for work, growth and gathering, with warm, personal service and a focus on community and supporting the local groups and charities in Guildford.

The family business that was founded, to deliver and run this project, was named Soulspace. A company that was founded very much on the belief in the power of physical and intangible spaces to provide purpose, community and belonging.

The Boathouse would combine thoughtful spaces for work, growth and gathering, with warm, personal service and a focus on community and supporting the local groups and charities in Guildford.

The Boathouse, Guildford opened in Summer 2023.