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   The Steamboat Association of Great Britain

We have had a great time on the SBA Jubilee Rally 2021

Members who took part can see the photos here.

Jerome K Jerome, struggling at the oars of a Thames skiff in 1889, said of steam launches that whistled impatiently at him that he would like to lure one ‘to a lonely part of the river, and there, in the silence and the solitude, strangle it’.  Offered a tow, he changed his tune to rail against small boats that got in the way.

Nobody can deny that the very idea of steam power in a boat is full of challenges and dichotomies.  They are at once picturesque and romantic but dirty and demanding. They are technically simple, in theory, but devilishly complex when we work on them.

They are hopelessly obsolete yet timelessly fascinating. But they bring colour to the waterways of a kind offered by no other sort of craft. 

The SBA was formed in 1971 to bring together people who all enjoyed what was then an extremely niche interest: keeping steam alive on the water.  Three years had passed since its abandonment on the railways, but the notional ‘romance of steam’ was still very much alive in the souls of all who had grown up with it.

Our Association brought together a very mixed membership with expertise derived from marine engineering, Britain’s shipyards, the worlds of model engineering and traditional boat building and others who simply loved what steamboating had to offer and were determined not to see it fade away.

So, we salute those pioneers who founded our Association and celebrate our 50 years have seen enormous progress: new boats built; engines developed; historic craft restored; important archives saved and some serious challenges faced and a future that is full of both interest and challenge.

Still we steam on! The anniversary event on Windermere, regarded by many as the alma mater of the classic steam launch, highlights that 50 years on the enthusiasm hasn’t waned. We remain niche but worldwide! These years have seen us instrumental in saving elements of our heritage not just for ourselves but for those who will follow and share our delight in it all.

Press contacts and  further details:  H. Steeple: 07929 265 968




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