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

  • 03 Nov 2013 17:43 | Deleted user

    In May, my husband and I set off for a rather unusual holiday - aboard the VIC 32, the last seagoing coal fired steam 'Clyde Puffer'. She was built in 1943 and has been well known for the last 30 years on the West Coast of Scotland.

    We were to arrive at Ardishaig to board the boat, and as we got off the coach, we had to walk a little way before we spotted her.  We were welcomed aboard and given a tour, and taken to our little cabin tucked up near the front of the boat (or should that be bow?) and warned that it does leak sometimes!  As it was a slightly damp day, we warmed ourselves by the huge woodburning stove in the galley, as the rest of the passengers arrived (12 in total). 

    Most of them had been before, and couldn't resist coming back, as Nic the skipper informed us.  We met Lyle the engineer, whom Kingsley was to spend many hours with, down in the engine room!  And then there was the cook and galley slave who provided us with the most delicious meals and homemade cake and bread all week. 

    We set off the following day to Tarbert, and braved the weather by standing on deck to look at the view, and see the billows of black smoke leaving a big trail behind us, wonderful!  At Tarbert, we stopped off next to a rather large pile of coal, and were told we had to shovel it all into the bunkers!  Off we got, picked up the shovels and wheelbarrows, and got to it!  Thankfully, we didn't have to the shovel the whole pile!

    Throughout the week we gradually meandered our way back to Glasgow, stopping at various places including Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, Greenock and visits to Holy and Gare Loch. 

    The scenery was beautiful (when you could see it through the clouds!) and was made all the more special by being on such a historic and interesting boat, powered by steam.

    Kingsley enjoyed chatting to Lyle and helping out in the engine room, and even stoking the boiler (which I also did once!). We soon found that the two entrances to the engine room were the warmest places to sit, so often you would see 1 or 2 of us sat at the top of the steps reading and enjoying the warmth from the boiler.  It was also a useful place to put the bread dough to rise!

    I enjoyed a bit of bird watching, and we also saw some porpoises one day.  Nic encouraged everyone to have a go up in the wheel house, needless to say my steering was a little bit wonky, but I got the hang of it in the end!  It did get a bit crowded in the wheelhouse at times, as it was a popular spot to shelter from the weather.

    One of the highlights of the week was visiting the Isle of Bute.  We wandered around Rothesey in the morning, and hired a tandem in the afternoon and cycled around the island, visiting the ruins of St. Blane's church.  We were urged by Nic to visit the old toilets just by the harbour, and I had to wait for the men to leave to have a nose at the highly decorated urinals!

    That evening we anchored off shore, and enjoyed listening to the waves lapping against the side of the boat as we drifted off to sleep.

    Nic was a character, to say the least, and had many interesting stories to tell, and kept us all entertained.  Whilst we were moored up at Greenock, we were able to have a tour under the Waverley, which was in the dry dock, being prepared for the summer season, before having a tour of the wheel house and the engine room.

    We also stopped off to visit the Titan Crane at Clydebank, not for those scared of heights, but great views from the top!  We finished up in Glasgow, with lots of memories, and keen to go again next year!

    You can find out more about VIC 32 and holidays aboard on their website.

  • 31 Oct 2013 15:12 | Deleted user

    The Medway Queen has moved to Avon Mouth, so she can be ready to leave Bristol where the hull has been rebuilt and be towed to Gillingham for her return to the River Medway as soon as the weather allows.

    You can find out more about the history of the Medway Queen and the work of the preservation society on their website. Photo's by Philip Clark.

  • 07 Sep 2013 12:12 | Deleted user
    One of the objects of the Association is “to stimulate public interest in steam boats and steam boating”.  With this in mind we are planning to run a light-hearted competition in 2014 based around the building of steam powered outboard motors.  

    The competition will take the form of a time trial round a short course, with awards also being given for creative and attractive entries. To save on the complication of each entrant having to build a boiler and get it tested and insured, a boat and boiler will be provided on which each entrant can simply mount their engine for the test. The motor being tested would simply need a 15mm female connector to draw steam at 120psi from the host boat.

    We are keen that this event can be used as a way of introducing young people to engineering, and steamboats in particular. 
    If you know a young person or youth group who would be interested then why not involve them and build a steam outboard together?

    The exact details of the date and format of the competition are yet to be finalised.  However, get your thinking caps on and come up with a design, the more unusual the better.  Once the details are finalised they will be announced in Funnel and on the website.  If you would like to be kept informed please let Kingsley Robinson know (email

  • 31 Aug 2013 11:26 | Deleted user

    Between the 11th and 16th of August steamboaters took part in the Windermere Steamboat Rally. 

    On the Monday boats headed south to Fell Foot for lunch before rafting up for tea of Silverholme on the way back.

    Tuesday saw boats head north to Waterhead, after lunch boats headed across to Pulwyke Bay where there was a whistle salute and a eulogy to long time steamboat Derek Brown was read to coincide with his memorial service.

    The following note was received from Derek's family:

    Dear all at the Windermere Rally

    I would like to say thank you to everyone who signed the wonderful card which was sent from Pulwyke Bay. It meant a great deal to me to know that as we were in the church at Shiplake, giving thanks for Derek's life,  you too were remembering him in a place where we have had so much joy over the years.

    The memorial service was wonderful and just as we had hoped, with around 100 relatives and friends old and new, from all of Derek’s many fields of interest taking part. His bell-ringing colleagues rang both during and after the service.

    Thank you again for your thoughtfulness.
    With very best wishes

    Wednesday saw people dressing up for lunch at the Royal Windermere Yacht Club before being shown around the Windermere Steamboat Museum which is currently closed for renovation. 

    On Thursday boats that braved the rain headed for Wray Castle and tea behind Belle Isle.

    Friday saw boats doing there own thing (including more tea behind Belle Isle) before pulling out and leaving in the afternoon.

    More photo's of the event are now available on the photo album page and a video is available below and in the video gallery.

  • 31 Aug 2013 11:06 | Deleted user

    The latest edition of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) South East Region Newsletter, Cargoes - Autumn 2013 is now available and includes numerous articles of news from various parts of the canal network. 

    This edition and back issues can be downloaded from the IWA website here.
  • 11 Aug 2013 22:12 | Deleted user

    On the 27th-29th July 17 boats took part in this years Bristol Harbour festival, on the Saturday steamboats paraded around the harbour and took part in the Medway Queen's re-dedication ceremony, on the Sunday many boats cruised upstream for lunch before returning to pull out, a few boats remaining for a trip on the tidal estuary on Monday morning.

    More photo's of the event are now available on the photo album page and a video is available below and in the video gallery.

    Boats attending: Bethanne's Rival, Clio, Fiddlers Green, Genevre, Halcyon, Meteorite, Lady Marguerita, Lady Selsey, Lizzzeee, Margeret Morrison, Melissa, Puffin II, Ruth, Susan, Ursula, Victoria, Zara Finn.

  • 03 Aug 2013 10:07 | Deleted user
    Medway Queen - Bottle. Photo by Richard AbelsVisitors were welcomed to the Albion Dockyard in Hanover Place, Bristol from 12 noon and a short re-dedication ceremony commenced soon after 2pm with Project Manager Bob Stokes acting as Master of Ceremonies.

    After speeches by Councillor Faruk Choudhury (the Lord Mayor of Bristol), Marshall Vine (MQPS President), Brian Burton (MQPS Chairman) and David Abels of the Albion Dockyard the traditional bottle of champagne was cracked on the ship’s bow by Evelyn, Emelia, and Elizabeth, daughters of Andrew Summerell (MD Albion Dockyard Ltd.).

    A gathering of vessels of the Steam Boat Association waiting outside the dry dock then gave a rousing whistle salute which was followed by the National Anthem and a further prolonged whistle salute. The ceremonial party also included Sir William and Lady McAlpine, John and Noreen Chambers (MQPS Vice Presidents), Lucy Perry (representing the Heritage Lottery Fund), John Kempton   (MQPS Vice Chairman) and representatives from The Merchant Navy Association. The ceremony was witnessed by over 1000 visitors and guests.

    Medway Queen - SBA flotilla. Photo by Richard AbelsThe Albion Dockyard band performed beautifully from the fore deck of Medway Queen herself, both before and after the ceremony. The band previously played at nearly all the launches at the Albion Dockyard since 1942, when the yard was operated by Charles Hill and Sons until its merger with the Potterswood Band in 1966. It also performed at a ceremony marking the start of Medway Queen’s rebuild in 2009.

    The event proved a popular one. Besides society members who came on a weekend coach trip to Bristol from Gillingham in Kent, enthusiasts from all over the UK and many Bristol residents came to the yard to see the ship pass this milestone in her restoration. Before the ceremony they were able to admire this historic vessel in her pristine new coat of paint and discuss her history with members of the society.

    Medway Queen’s story includes seaside excursions, wartime minesweeping and the Dunkirk Evacuation as well as a rather different reputation as a nightclub on the Isle of Wight in the 1960s. Souvenirs, books and draw tickets were on sale and the inevitable collecting boxes were filled beyond expectation. Several new members were welcomed into the society.

    The ceremonial party and guests assembled on board and were given a tour of the ship by Andrew Summerell before the main event. Afterwards, members of the Medway Queen Preservation Society and the public were allowed on board to admire the work done so far and to appreciate how much remains to be done.Medway Queen- Capacity croud. Photo by Richard Abels

    The hull rebuild and the establishment of the society’s apprentice training workshops on Gillingham Pier have been supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and funding from the European Regional Development Fund via the INTERREG IVA 2 Seas Programme. The ceremony marked the end of this major phase of the ship’s restoration and the beginning of the refit to working order.

    The timescale in which this refit can be achieved is entirely dependent on the success of the society’s fund raising and to that end grants, sponsorship and individual donations are all being sought. The priority areas are the upper aft saloon as a dining space and the engine room as a visitor attraction and the central part of any working vessel. A new boiler will be required for which the society does not yet have funding. Any offers of help in cash or in kind would be welcomed at the Medway Queen Project Office, Gillingham Pier, Gillingham. ME7 1RX.

    Medway Queen - Sluices Open. Photo by Richard Abels.The ship will not be leaving the dry dock immediately. There is more work to be done in preparation for the tow and then the tug has to be available and the weather outlook acceptable. When these conditions are all met the ship will be moved without further ceremony. Predicting exactly when this will happen is not possible but the details will be posted on as they become clear.  It is intended that the ship’s arrival in Gillingham will also be marked in a suitable way but notice for this will be very short. The fitting out phase will then commence in earnest.

    Further events celebrating the tow home include a Music Festival on 7th September and the society’s Gillingham Pier workshops will be open to society members and to the public on all 4 days of the Heritage Open Days weekend of 12-15 September.

    Details of both events will be posted on their website.

    All photo's by Richard Abels.
  • 25 Jul 2013 17:30 | Deleted user

    This years Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition is running from Thursday 17th October to Sunday 20th October.

    Philip Martino is organising the SBA's presence and would like help manning the stand.  He is also looking for a smallish boiler for the display.

    If you can help please contact Philip using the contact details in the members register.

    More information of the exhibition itself can be found on their website.
  • 21 Jul 2013 13:54 | Deleted user
    18 boats, including two new boats (Anna Jayne and Curlew III) took part in a rally hosted by the National Trust at Dapdune Wharf on the River Wey in Guildford.

    On the Saturday many boats were used to instruct members of the public in how steamboats work and provide rides. After this there was  an evening cruise with the National Trust Staff and Volunteers followed by a meal. On the Sunday many boats cruised upstream for lunch before returning to pull out.

    Many thanks to the National Trust staff at Dapdune Wharf who helped organise and promote the event as well as offering us such a warm welcome and use of their site.

    More photo's of the event are now available on the photo album page and a video is available below and in the video gallery.

    Boats attending: Anna Jayne, Bruin, Cherub, Chimera II, Curlew III, Genevre, Lady Selsey, La Melinite, Little Lamb, Lizzzeee, Margaret Morrison, Mazeppa, Sans Son, Sarah Jane, Surta, Ursula, Zara Finn

  • 20 Jul 2013 09:35 | Deleted user
    Silvie launch
    The first completed SYLVIE class launch, as featured in FUNNEL 157 pg.22 and 78, has now been successfully launched.

    Four others are under construction, one being professionally fitted out as a hull ready for plant to be fitted ( steam, electric or IC) and will be available very shortly.

    Further details and specifications for this hull are available from Richard Havard (see Funnel or members directory for contact details).

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