The Steamboat Association
of Great Britain

to foster and encourage steam boating and the building, development, preservation and restoration of steam boats and steam machinery

to stimulate public interest
in steam boats
and steam boating

to promote high standards
of workmanship,
safety and seamanship


Topical notes about the SBA and the world of steamboats

  • 25 Feb 2014 21:11 | Deleted user

    SBA Chairman, Mark Rudall attended the Third National User Forum of the
    Canal & River Trust on 25 February 2014 at 'The Bond', the canalside CRT premises in Fazeley, Birmingham.

    The Trust's CEO, Richard Parry opened with a broad overview of the year, inevitably highlighting the impact of winter weather damage to the waterways systems.

    Most badly hit with landslips and the need to rebuild sections of the cut were the Mon & Brec and Llangollen Canals. The river Severn saw an almost unprecedented 30' rise at Sharpness - only just short of a flow-back into the Gloucester-Berkeley Canal. There were around 400 tree falls and the total cleanup costs are estimated at ca £2m.

    Good financial picture was reported for 2013/14 with an unexpected additional £3/4m spent on maintenance - notably cutting back and controlling vegetation. The Trust is also on target to reach 50,000 volunteer days in 2014. This is a huge increase

    There are key talks with the HS2 team re the possibly hugely damaging effects of what is proposed for multiple crossings of the system by the new railway around the area of Fradley Junction.

    The CEO outlined progress and challenges and faced questions from this large user group. Some members, having faced challenges over, say, long term cruising and mooring regulations, have very distinctive axes to grind but this meeting provides the essential access they need to the most senior figures within the Trust so users' group days result inevitably in further detailed conversations.

    An operations update showed that £87.5m is being spent on our waterways in 2012/13, the amount to spend is slowly rising and 2016/17 should see around £100m available to the Trust.

    2013/14 'highlights' are Dutton Embankment, Sutton Weaver Bridge, Cooper bridge Weir... All three dealt with for £8m. Limehouse Lock and Slaithwaite reservoir were repaired for £1.5m. There was a lot of dredging (£4.5m). Rishton and Aylesbury emergency works cost £1m while the offside tree programme saw a spend of about £1.75m with ca 200km of canal being given attention by about 20 teams working all over the system.

    Major works for 2014/15 will see a spend of about £24.5m overall. The dredging side of this includes a 10 year commitment to spend £80m. Dredging - right at the top of the media agenda apart from anything else -  has to be the priority. The Manchester and Pennine waterways are in poor shape and will be a focus of attention this year. Also on the agenda are expensive programmes to handle civil engineering problems with Elton reservoir and Hampton Bank.

    £60m will be spent on Inspections, Planned preventative maintenance, High priority defect repair, vegetation management, Customer delivery service (e.g personnel, lock keepers and so on), growing volunteer contribution, Lock gate repair and replacement, driving efficiency and productivity forward. (To cite just one element of regular maintenance we were told that around 40% of canalside wash walls are in need of attention)

    A lengthy consultation re towpath visitor moorings has been in progress and is resulting in a rethink of the way accessible and responsible mooring should be regulated and enforced, hopefully with an emerging need for a lighter touch with the latter.

    The meeting, split into round table groups, was given 25 mins to discuss a series of questions linked to this... In my group it was highlighted that direct boating expenditure, indirect and 'induced' expenditure per day for a visitor mooring could be as much as £55 to a given local economy. We learned that 8km of new waterway will become available in London when former Olympic park (Queen Elizabeth Park) waterway is opened up. The CRT is seeking to provide moorings to encouraging boaters on that stretch. My discussion group highlighted the intractable tightrope walked by CRT between local authorities, home owners, permanent liveaboard canal cruisers etc.. There is a huge capacity problem with visitor moorings. It was felt that boaters would be prepared to pay a modest overnight charge for an 'enhanced' mooring facility (e.g one where power is laid on) which could be set up privately - such as, for example, the small marina set up by the erstwhile BW on the crowded Llangollen canal, where free moorings on the canalside were under unusually heavy  visitor pressure.
    A new consultation re towpath usage is about to go live. A new code or policy is needed.
    It is felt that there is a need for new principles and maybe a new 'Towpath Code' which may involve a new shared commitment or 'social contract', so being sought is:
    A guide to safe sharing of towpaths

    Exploration of what the CRT and others can do
    Inform partners and funders of our challenges and expectations.

    It is thought by CRT that the main things to focus on are:
    To consult and observe
    1. To make a better infrastructure... Including
    2. To develop better signage
    3. To encourage better behaviours by users
    to look at alternative routes to towpaths.

    The CRT stresses that towpaths are prioritised for the slowest users.. Thus in London they have introduced the 'share the space' campaign (thus for towpath cyclists "Share the space, drop your pace"). It was suggested that 10,000 riparian parish councils need to be engaged by CRT re use of towpaths: they need to know the local economic benefits of visiting and liveaboard boaters as well as the rules and guidelines under which boaters operate.

    Steamboaters may want to make their own contributions to these two CRT consultations visitor mooring policy and towpath usage) and should feel free to make their own submissions, which can be made via me if that would make life easier.

    An AOB section raised points re the way the users' forum is used. It certainly brings together people with common interest in waterway usage and keeps all of us abreast of the way our waterways are governed, maintained and funded.

                                                             Mark Rudall 26th February 2014
  • 17 Feb 2014 09:37 | Deleted user
    undefinedNational Historic Ships UK is a government funded, independent organisation which gives objective advice to UK governments and local authorities, funding bodies, and the historic ships sector on all matters relating to historic vessels in the UK.

    It is successor to the advisory committee on National Historic Ships, set up as a non-departmental advisory body in July 2006.  In turn, that organisation followed on from the National Historic Ships Committee, which emerged from a seminar held in 1991 to discuss the problems facing the preservation of historic ships and vessels in the UK and the evident neglect of this important part of our heritage.

    National Historic Ships UK carries a wide remit, looking not only at the immediate issues concerning historic vessels in the UK, but also addressing questions relating to the support infrastructure for historic ships, their potential for contributing in the wider economic, social and community context, and maintaining a watch list of vessels abroad with potential UK significance.

    More information can be found on their website:
  • 13 Feb 2014 18:58 | Deleted user
    In 2002 Alister Hodgson-Jones bought the Pussy Willow from Kester Shave and had the boat brought from its construction base to Northamptonshire, to be initially stored in a compound near Thrapston.

    The ensuing weeks saw the engine removed into the riverside workshop, fettled and tested with compressed air. Under these conditions, out of the boat, the engine ran satisfactorily. The boiler was the next to receive attention. Despite never having been fired up since being removed from the Glenrosa, the tubes were not in the best of condition and, although probably serviceable, were replaced in the Islip workshop. In addition, the crankshaft supplied with the boat was defective and a new one was machined from a large steel billet.

     To round off the story to date, some internal refurbishment took place but then, with business and family commitments creating increasing demands on the owner, tools were laid down and for more years than the owner likes to admit, the boat has remained forlorn and partially restored – AGAIN.

    Now, forward to Thursday 24th October 2013, Chilford Hall Vineyard and a chance meeting over a nice lunch and a glass of the local vino …. and a mutual interest in steam. Owner Alister Hodgson-Jones sees potential in new retiree, Philip Lawton, to kick start the project back into life. A second meeting, again over a nice lunch but in a restaurant closer to home, the new found friends lay the foundation to bring Pussy Willow to life.

    You can follow their progress on their blog:
  • 12 Feb 2014 17:45 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The electronic document packs are available on the 2014 AGM page in the members' section.  If you have not yet registered, please register and make your refreshment order here.  Refreshments cannot be ordered on the day.
  • 19 Jan 2014 15:10 | Deleted user
    David Eager, one of the Consuta trustees writes...

    A scheme to build a Thames Heritage Museum at Beale Park near Pangbourne to house three historic steam boats is currently going to planning appeal after being repeatedly turned down by West Berkshire Council Local Planning Authority despite strong local support. We'd like to ask for your help.

    The museum project has been designed to house exhibits and information on the heritage and development of powered boat building on the Thames. The museum would also be an ideal location to house the SBA’s own extensive collection of historic books drawings and photos which have been gathered ever since the SBA was formed. It will also house Consuta, the hugely historically significant steam umpires' launch, built nearby by local builder Sam Saunders in 1898. The other vessels are Cygnet, built by Thorneycroft and Co in 1870, again, a remarkable survivor, and Danola, built for Mr Palmer of Huntley and Palmer biscuits in 1894.

    The Consuta Trust and its partner Thames Boats Trust have been campaigning for some time to develop a facility which allows the public to enjoy these magnificent craft and learn about the development of boat building on the river. An outline planning application to West Berkshire District Council last year was blocked by the planning officials despite 50 letters of support, including the local Basildon Parish Council, local MP Richard Benyon and nationally important organisations such as the Register of National Historic Ships.

    Brian Smith, Chairman of The Consuta Trust, said: "We  need as many people as possible to register their support for the appeal before the 31st January deadline.

    Brian and the project team have put a great deal of effort into this campaign and there is a strong feeling amongst those who have worked on the application that we have not been treated at all fairly by the LPA.

    If you'd like to see our Thames steam boat heritage preserved, please could I ask you to support the extensive work and cost that has already been put into this project, and write a letter or email of support urging the Appeal Officer to overturn the LPA's decision and examine whether the LPA has followed planning procedures fairly and correctly.

    Comments on the appeal (reference 2208764) can be made either by email at or by post to:
    Attention of Nicolas Patch,
    3/06 Wing,
    Temple Quay House,
    2, The Square,
    BS1 6PN.

    If like me you need a little help to get started with such a letter or email  might I suggest something along the lines included in this sample document (please pick some of the paragraphs below shuffle their order and adapt this to your own words).

    Further details are available by following this link:
  • 16 Jan 2014 18:07 | Deleted user
    Applications are invited for 5 x trainees for the Shipshape Heritage Training Partnership project, a new Heritage Lottery Skills for the Future funded initiative managed by National Historic Ships UK (NHS-UK).  

    Subject to confirmation of HLF funding on 28 January, this project will provide ten 12-month training placements at five partner sites based in Scotland, the West Country, Suffolk, the East Coast and the Solent, offering on-board specialist training to ensure that the significance of UK historic vessels and the ability to operate them safely and effectively is kept alive. The trainees will also undertake a tailored course in historic vessel maintenance at the International Boatbuilding Training College and an interpretation placement at the Scottish Fisheries Museum. A skills mapping exercise will provide template training models for the wider sector and an assessment framework for seamanship skills will be developed as a project legacy.
    To apply for one of the trainee vacancies, please view the job descriptions at:  Closing date for applications is 31 January 2014.

  • 08 Jan 2014 19:08 | Deleted user

    One of the objects of the Steamboat Association is “to stimulate public interest in steam boats and steam boating”.  With this in mind we are going to run a light-hearted competition based around the building of steam powered outboard motors.  Entry is free to any SBA members, who can take part either individually or in small teams. If you are interested in taking part in the competition but are not an SBA member why not join the Steam Boat Association?


    Form of the Competition

    The SBA will provide a boat to which the competitors attach a steam outboard motor.  The boat will include a boiler (with a fireman) to provide steam for the engine.  The entrant will then race against other entries in a time trial.

    Definition of a Steam Outboard

    For the purposes of this competition any device which will mount on the transom bracket of the host boat and receives steam from the host boat fits the definition of an outboard motor.  

    A steam control valve is required on the engine for the entrant to control the engine.

    There is no requirement for the use of a traditional outboard motor leg or even to use a propeller. Similarly the engine does not have to be of the conventional steam engine arrangement.  Be as creative as you like!

    The outboard motor does not have to include a steering system as this will be provided on the host boat (although it may if you wish).

    The Host Boat

    The host boat will be Mark Rudall’s Chimera II.  She is approximately 18’ long by 6’ beam.  Her water tube boiler produces about 100 lbs/hr of saturated steam at 100psi.  She is normally driven by a twin cylinder high pressure engine of 2.5” bore by 2.5” stroke. 

    Chimera II will be fitted with a temporary mounting bracket that extends across the whole of the transom, as can be seen in figures 1 & 2, the outboard can be mounted at any position on the bracket.  However care should be taken to avoid Chimera II’s rudder.

    Steam will be supplied to the engine via an insulated flexible hose which will be fitted with a 3/8” BSP male fitting.


    Form of the Competition

    The competition will be in two parts; a time trial and the judges’ selection for technical excellence.

    1 - Time trials

    The time trial will involve two timed runs around a course.  The faster of the two runs will be recorded.

    The fireman of the host boat will attempt to maintain a boiler pressure of 100psi (likely to be lower at the engine).  The entrants are responsible for control of steam supply to the engine and for steering the boat around the course.

    2 - Technical excellence

    The judges will decide on their favourite entry, based on innovative features, quality of workmanship, presentation etc.  The judges’ decisions are final.


    Location of the Competition

    The competition will take place in the course of the Beale Park Boat Show which is on the 6th-8th June 2014.  Entrants can arrange for a slot to test and tinker with their entry before the judging and competition takes place.

    Safety & Environmental Considerations

    Entrants are responsible for their own safety when operating their plant.  It is suggested that you complete a simple risk assessment to identify risks of your design and take the necessary steps to mitigate against them.

    The outboard motor must not pollute the environment and measures to prevent oil escaping from the outboard motor MUST be taken.  Minimal cylinder lubrication may be necessary but care should be taken that excess oil droplets do not find their way into the lake. The judges will need to be satisfied that your engine will not pollute the lake before allowing the engine on the water.

    The judges and the fireman of the host boat reserve the right to stop the competition at any point for reasons of safety, to prevent damage to the host boat or other craft or to prevent pollution.


    For more information or to register an entry for the competition (before 15th May) contact Kingsley Robinson at:

    Phone: 07985 931299


    Post: 13 Caer Castell Place,



              CF3 3PW

    Awards Sponsored by Process Instruments

    Click here for a printable copy on these instructions.

  • 04 Jan 2014 17:10 | Deleted user
    To get the season started there will be a mass boiler testing at John Hendry’s in Avonbridge, Stirlingshire on 1st May.   Followed by a trip through the Falkirk Wheel and on to Linlithgow on the Friday and a day on Loch Katrine on the Saturday and/or Sunday.

    Please contact Gudmund Jorgensen if you want to attend.
  • 11 Dec 2013 20:39 | Deleted user
    Will once again be at the wonderful Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,  just off the M40 near Warwick.  Details have gone out with the December 'Funnel' and can also be found in the events list.

    Do note the date and book early: it'll be a great day!
  • 05 Dec 2013 16:57 | Deleted user
    SBA Services, your boiler testing company regrets to announce that our scheme administrator, David Beale, has declared his intention to resign in the near future.

    Those of you who use the scheme, will recognise the immense contribution he has made to it's success over the last 7 Years. He has exercised his role with efficiency, patience, good sense, diligence and understanding, all attributes we recognise in him personally .and with a technical input which many of us have also found most helpful, a very hard act to follow.

    However, the scheme will of course, continue and we are anxious to appoint a successor in the near future. David has indicated his willingness to continue in the short term, we are keen to avoid taking too much advantage of his generosity.

    We invite enquiries/applications from interested parties, to appoint a successor. A Job Description will be available.

    Please correspond in the first instance with Bill Hall, Company Secretary (contact details are in the members directory)

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