The National Trust’s Steam Yacht Gondola is sending out an SOS to ‘Save Our Sidney’, the sea serpent figurehead which gives Gondola her distinctive look. More accurately, a new version of Sidney will have to be created.
Affectionately known by the crew as ‘Sid’, thirty five years on Coniston Water have taken their toll on him. Regular repairs, refurbishments and makeovers have kept Sid looking his best during this time, but there’s only so much filling and patching that can be done. The wood is now rotten to its core which means a new Sid now needs to be commissioned.
The Gondola team is looking to raise £5000 to have Sidney re-carved in hardwood and decorated in gold leaf paint. The cost of replacing Sidney is unfortunately beyond the level that can be absorbed in Gondola’s general running costs.
The origins of Gondola’s sea serpent lie with the connections to the 7th Duke of Devonshire, who was then-Chairman of the Furness Railway who commissioned the original Gondola in 1859. The Devonshire coat of arms adorn Gondola’s prow and Sid was added to the boat to represent the coiled snake emblem used by the Devonshire’s on the frieze of Chatsworth House.
Suzi Bunting, Visitor Experience Development Manager for Gondola, says:
"Sid not only represents our link to Gondola’s Victorian history but his forked tongue, according to maritime myth, is said to ward off bad weather. That’s some achievement in the changeable climate of the Lake District. Gondola just wouldn’t be Gondola without Sid so we’re working hard to ensure enough money is raised to keep him sailing across Coniston.”
You can find out more on Ivan Corlett’s blog here.