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   The Steamboat Association of Great Britain


Topical notes and archive about the SBA and the world of steamboats

  • 25 Jan 2019 11:12 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For those of you with a technology bent (Oh, I guess that is everyone!) you might be interested to know that you can now download an app for your Android Phone (and even those old Apple ones too).

    Nip along to your app store and search for "Wild Apricot for Members" (the people who make the software behind the web site) and download it. Using the app you can: 

    Access Member Directory:

    • View your organisation's entire member directory
    • View member profiles
    • Email and call fellow members

    Register for Events:

    • View an event calendar and event details
    • Register for an event through the app
    • View existing event registrations
    • Pay an outstanding event registration fee

    Update Personal Profiles:

    • Members can view their personal profile, including their membership renewal date

    Exciting huh?!

  • 10 Jan 2019 11:33 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I was recently contacted by an Indian company (Tinytech) offering steam plants which might suit members, and we are passing this information on for your interest.

    Mark Rudall offered the following wise words on experience with this company:

    Tiny Tech, India, have advertised their steam engines and Yarrow type boilers for many years and they are built for the developing world to provide simple power sources often on indigenous fuels. We have been sent their current price list, which is here for your interest. It is important to note the caveat that imported boilers, however robustly built, would not necessarily meet European demands for provenance of materials, certification of welds etc.. Moreover, the engines, given their target market, are somewhat crude, but do operate.

    TinyTech wrote as follows:

    Dear Steam Friends,

    I have conviction in my heart that steam power is going to come back sooner or later.

    So with great difficulties I developed steam engines from 2.5 hp to 70 hp and also water tube boilers of various sizes.

    If any of your members is seriously interested in steam engine, he can contact me.

    I will be pleased to give my full co operation.

    I am giving below the price list of my steam engine



    (1) Single cylinder double acting steam engine 6 hp, cylinder dia 90.2mm x stroke 80mm, US$ 1200/-

    (2) Single cylinder double acting steam engine 10 hp, cylinder dia 101.6mm x stroke 116mm, US$ 1500/-

    (3) Single cylinder double acting steam engine 20 hp, cylinder dia 127mm x stroke 146mm, US$2100 /-

    (4) Single cylinder double acting steam engine 25 hp, cylinder dia 139.7mm x stroke 146mm, US$ 2400/-

    (5) Single cylinder double acting steam engine 30 hp, cylinder dia 152.4mm x stroke 146mm, US$ 2700/-

    (6) Single cylinder double acting steam engine 50 hp, cylinder dia 190mm x stroke 146mm, 4200US$ /-

    (7) Single cylinder double acting steam engine 70 hp, cylinder dia 190mm x stroke 200mm, US$ 6000/-


    (1) Double cylinder double acting steam engine 5 hp, cylinder dia 63mm x stroke 80mm, US$ 1800/-

    (2) Double cylinder double acting steam engine 8 hp, cylinder dia 76.2mm x stroke 80mm , US$ 2200/-

    (3) Double cylinder double acting steam engine 12 hp, cylinder dia 90.2mm x stroke 80mm, US$ 2400/-

    (5) Double cylinder double acting steam engine 20 hp, cylinder dia 101.6mm x stroke 116mm, US$ 2600/-

    (6) Double cylinder double acting steam engine 28 hp, cylinder dia 114.3mm x stroke 116mm, US$ 3000/-

    (7) Double cylinder double acting steam engine 36 hp, cylinder dia 140mm x stroke 107 mm, US$ 3200/-

    (8) Double cylinder double acting steam engine 40 hp, cylinder dia 140mm x stroke 116mm, US$ 4000/-

    (9) Double cylinder double acting steam engine 100 hp, cylinder dia 190mm x stroke 146mm, US$7000/-.


    (1) Double cylinder double acting compound steam engine 6 hp, cylinders dia 63 x 90 x stroke 80mm,US$2000

    (2) Double cylinder double acting compound steam engine 9 hp, cylinder dia 90 x 114 x stroke 80mm,US$ 2200

    (3) Double cylinder double acting compound steam engine 15 hp cyl dia 90mmx127mmxstroke116mm, US$2800

    (4) Double cylinder double acting compound steam engine 22 hp, cyl dia 101.6x139.7xstroke116mm, US$ 3600

    (5) Double cylinder double acting compound steam engine 32 hp, cyl dia 114.3x165.1xstroke 146mm, US$ 6200

    (6) Double cylinder double acting compound steam engine 40 hp, cyl dia 127x 177.8 xstroke 146mm, US$ 7400

    (7) Double cylinder double acting compound steam engine 50 hp, cyl dia 139.7x 190 xstroke 146mm, US$ 8000


    (76 years engineer promoting people's own power)



    Tagore Road, RAJKOT - 360002, INDIA

    91 92 27 60 65 70 ( MOBILE)

  • 09 Jul 2018 12:39 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    John Barnard was good enough to pass along a recording he made of an SBA rally in 1990 as broadcast by Anglia TV. 

    As he says "Sadly some of the faces are no longer with us but I’m sure it will bring back a lot of memories for our more senior members and show the younger ones our activities of the past  ----- My!  30 years ago, as they say  'Don’t time fly' ".

    We have included it in our "rotating" video library, or you can see it here

  • 09 Jun 2018 12:35 | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd has been awarded ‘The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service’ in the Queen's Honours List, published on 2nd June 2018.

    This is an MBE equivalent and the highest award given to a voluntary group. It is the first time a historic vessel preservation group has been honoured in this way.

    The award was created in 2002 by the Queen to celebrate the anniversary of her Coronation and recognises excellence in voluntary activity carried our by groups in the community. The assessment process for the award was conducted on behalf of the Queen by Captain Hugh Daglish LVO JP DL Royal Navy ex Commander of HMY Britannia and His Honour Judge John Roberts DL.

    The award citation honours the rescue and preservation of Kerne, one of Britain’s oldest operational steamships. The Queens award is recognition of the work of our group over the last 47 years. Our member’s dedication has been an example of what can be achieved for the benefit of the nation’s maritime heritage and is enjoyed by many thousands of people who have seen Kerne steaming to events and come aboard to learn about a living ship of the Titanic era.

    Chris Heyes and Paul Kirkbride are attended Buckingham Palace on  Tuesday 5th June for a Royal Garden Party and The Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside is to make a presentation on board Kerne at a later date.

    S T Kerne

    On behalf of The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd.

    Bob Stead

  • 27 May 2018 12:35 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If, like me, you are sick and tired of fielding opt-in/out emails this will come as good news: We (the SBA) have updated our Privacy Policy to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). We didn't need to do much as we already had a pretty good setup. The minor changes that we have now made mean that we are compliant with the new legislation. If you are curious to read our new policy, or are having trouble getting to sleep at night, there is a link to it from this page: 

    And the even better news it that you don't need to do anything - after careful consideration at Committee and seeking suitable advice we are happy that the minimal data that we keep on our members was 'freely given' under our previous Privacy Policy and that the changes for GDPR haven't required us to 're-seek' your permission to continue to hold it - albeit with perhaps a tad more security than before and other statutory requirements with which we have to comply - such as your 'right to be forgotten'.  

    Now can we all please get back to the serious business of Steamboating!

    Kevin Slater SBA Chair

  • 27 Mar 2018 07:19 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As announced at the AGM Cyril taylor's engine castings are available from the original foundry that he used.

    John Hendry and myself will be visiting the foundry shortly to sort & identify what goes with what.

    We will then produce a detailed list of the various items.

    Meanwhile the direct contact information is:-

    Charles Tyers

    Fenland castings

    tel: -1778348940

    regards John Maltby

  • 06 Sep 2016 21:53 | Anonymous member

    Our thanks to Ian Davies for flying the drone an taking these aerial videos during Windermere Week in August 2016.  The videos make Windermere look really inviting - but then, the drone could fly only on the good-weather days!  Enjoy - Roger Heise

    Copy and paste this link to your browser

    or click here to open in a new browser window.

  • 30 Aug 2016 22:53 | Anonymous member

    Have a look at this flickr album of ( mainly ) steam boats on Windermere from the 2016 SBA Windermere Week - and some from from earlier years.  Thanks to Robert Beale for compiling the album.

    Roger Heise

  • 12 Mar 2016 09:05 | Deleted user

    As Chantilly’s adventures at John & Françoise Tilley's hands terminated with her sale in 2015 (to France of course!) they have elected to compile their Funnel reports of her travels, hopefully as encouragement for those contemplating similar cruises or simply to while away the odd coffee break.

    Each article will be republished online throughout 2016 or you can download the full document here (10Mb).

    John & Françoise write:

    This event, as was boldly advertised in FUNNEL, was an international meeting of old or interesting power boats, which had clear requirements of venerability for the motor boats, but welcomed any steamboat made of anything!

    So, with such a warm invitation, we took Chantilly, joining Iola built by the late Richard Hayne, very attractive fitted out open F21, as the ‘G.B’ contingent and met up with Oxbird from Bordeaux Maritime Museum, Lord Byron F21 from Lake Geneva, Sarina also from Geneva, a simple, practical, and obviously satisfying paddler, built around a lake Geneva fishing skiff, another very pretty boat Scylla of Messina and Asphodel, the only resident Lac du Bourget steamer, the biggest boat , proud and purposeful, belonging to the late André Coudurier, the event organiser. An international gathering, but all ‘ex pat’ English boats! I should also mention albeit briefly, the 20 or so splendid old wooden power boats brought from all over Europe, who added at least noise and spray to this colourful gathering!

    The first phase of this meeting was based on the port of Aix-les-Bains and was arranged also as a visitor attraction, for which the town provided generous sponsorship by way of hotel accommodation, meals, coal, and endless speeches, and receptions which was a great excuse to sample the excellent Savoyard wine.

    Day one was ‘Viewing of boats on trailers’ and launching, a crowded public spectacle and a good excuse to go walking the beautiful Jura foothills surrounding the town, to avoid it.

    Day two had boating activities on the Lake, the first a manoeuvrability test around buoys, I missed whilst fighting steam raising gremlins. The second ‘regularity trials’ I also missed by steaming, with Richard and Robert, to a distant lakeside restaurant for lunch. Iola however did eventually enter the event, apparently aimed at maintaining a regular speed around a buoyed course, and concluded the
    activities by picking up a buoy line in her prop in a big way and being towed to the hoist to be fetched out and disentangled!

    The third day took us in convoy to the head of the Lake, where the Canal de Savières links it to the Rhône, pausing as we passed the strikingly majestic Abbey de Hautecombe. We moored in the delightful canal side village of Chanaz where a picnic for all 100 or so boaters and hangers-on was arranged outside a genuine working water mill, which was fully restored a year or so ago and was producing oil from walnuts and hazelnuts. We were invited simply because Edouard the mill owner liked things old and mechanical.

    That evening brought, with speeches welcomes and drinks, prize giving! Everyone was a winner of something, but particularly of note was Lord Byron as the most manoeuvrable boat of the event, and Iola as having the “best engine” with a superb Mallinson Twin.

    The second phase of the event, and perhaps more to my taste, was a three day cruise on the Rhône, taking in a mysterious ‘boat lift’ over barrages.

    On Monday, we were due to steam up the Lake again, in a party of six boats, to join the Rhône at Chanaz, but sadly a hooley blew up over night, and the Lake was impassable for small steamboats.

    After 20 or so early morning committee meetings, we all set off across the Lake in Lakshme an old Lake Geneva motor boat, which at 11m was fast and weatherly. Then to be taken by car to a little mountain town Culoz that was honouring one of its past residents the brothers: Henri (1848-1915)and Léon Serpollet (1859-1907) with an exhibition of notes and photographs of his wondrous turn of century inventions with steam powered cars, bicycles and other devices. This also occasioned speeches, welcomes and drinks.

    As the weather had not abated, I elected to return to Aix, fetch out Chantilly, re-launch on the Rhône and join up with the rest of the party in Lakshme at our evening stop.

    The Rhône at this point runs at the foot of the Jura Mountain range and varies from wide, shallow and fast flowing thro’ rolling green valleys to over 40m deep in majestic gorges. Apart from a few fishing punts, there are virtually no boats, and very few landings.

    At a number of places, the river has been left to follow its course, and huge navigable canals feed hydro-electric stations, giving a 30-50 foot barrage. No locks exist, but navigation past these dams is possible by use of a ‘portique’. This is a three wheeled self powered machine which rumbles down a wide slipway to pick up the boats-up to 5 tins-in slings, winch itself back up the slipway, casts off then trundle down the road at walking race, past the power station to re-launch in the outfall.


    One purpose of our organised passage on the river was to hopefully overwhelm the navigation and establish a case for installing locks to re-open the river to navigation but with a flotilla now only numbering two boats, the portique seemed to cope admirably. Nevertheless, like conquistadors we were greeted by hoards at the few towns en route, and subject to more speeches, welcomes and drinks. Where no town existed, the locals set up a mobile reception centre, and dispensed welcomes and drinks from the river side on folding tables-fortunately no speeches this time!

    On the Rhône!

    After 3 days of travel on this wild, remote and beautiful river known in places as the ‘Blue Valley’, we 10 or so adventurers formed quite a strong band, and many was the merry picnic lunch (no speeches, much wine) and late night revelry at the Auberge du Gland. This inn, apart from being the site of my initiation into the delights of frog legs,the only item on the menu, a ploy, I’m certain, by André to challenge the English ‘sang froid’- I beat him at his game however, by being the first, for seconds! The Auberge has a mountain stream running in the garden and the innkeeper has installed a couple of turbines in his garden shed, and produces 1000KW (yes KW, not watts, I saw the instruments) for sale to the national grid. He also drinks like a fish and drives like a Frenchman not a happy combination when chauffeuring us back to our boat late at night!

    Crêpes Chantilly!

    We parted from the group at Chanaz, as they had to leave, and we spent a couple of days exploring the Lake and its environs. The only place in the vicinity where the ‘bière pression’ was served, was the Abbey de Hautecombe, the provisions however were to be found on the opposite shore, 3 miles to buy bread and back for another beer filled in a pleasant half day’s steaming!

    A splendid event, in gorgeous surroundings, made inevitably all more fascinating by being adopted by colourful locals.

    We made the journey in one long day, and travel apart, had to spend very little. Our thanks to our friend André Coudurier, an unflappable, generous “Bon Vivant”, who managed such a cosmopolitan bunch to the total enjoyment of all.

  • 21 Feb 2016 09:32 | Deleted user

    As Chantilly’s adventures at John & Françoise Tilley's hands terminated with her sale in 2015 (to France of course!) they have elected to compile their Funnel reports of her travels, hopefully as encouragement for those contemplating similar cruises or simply to while away the odd coffee break.

    Each article will be republished online throughout 2016 or you can download the full document here (10Mb).

    John & Françoise write:

    After waiting some half hour the top gates of the three lock flight at Marseillette opened and out ‘popped’, under apparently random pilotage, a handful of hire cruisers.

    Having drawn the fire in anticipation of imminent action, we were hailed by the lock-keeper who asked us to wait a while longer as a ‘Péniche’- which has priority-was approaching shortly. “Whilst wishing to oblige” quote Françoise in impeccable French, “we have unfortunately too much steam and there is some danger of explosion” upon which the safety valve blew, and the highly impressed, and now motivated lock-keeper raised his brolly in defence of such eventuality, and immediately locked us through in record time. After hundreds of years of waterway lore, the ‘péniche’ had been ousted as primeur by a steamboat!

    Quick to capitalise on this advantage, we re-established our ‘priorité’ at succeeding locks by judicious use of the blower, to encourage the safety valve to emphasise the urgency of our transit.

    We were at the beginning of Chantilly’s adventure ’93 on the Canal du Midi. This canal, rightfully described as ‘Le Canal des Deux Mers’, links the Atlantic at Bordeaux to the Mediterranean at Sète and was built in the 1600’s by one Paul Riquet, a self-taught engineer whose most unlikely beginnings were as a tax collector! (Has BW now gone the other way?)He crowned his most remarkable achievement by ‘expiring’ some few months before it was opened and hence remembered more for his initial success than some of the subsequent operating difficulties. It is probably the most interesting and varied of the French waterways and has the added attraction of touching the Mediterranean with the (presumed) attendant splendid weather.

    The difficulties are that it is a long way from Blighty, needing two full days’ travel each way; as a water feeder for the Provence vineyards and agriculture, it is sometimes allowed to run dry in summer, and it can be very hot and rather expensive down there.

    As we had some time available in early spring, it seemed to overcome some of the possible difficulties and offered an exciting start to the steaming season.

    Our starting place was chosen as Carcassonne which, apart from having a beautiful ancient city, is about half way along the ‘Midi’ proper and would give us a comfortable two weeks’ cruising to reach the ultimate terminus at Beaucaire on the Rhône. Contact was made with the Captain du port who on earlier telephone calls was unsure whether he had a suitable slipway or not. Arriving late evening we discovered that slipway they had not, but did sport a muddy groove in the canal bank!. Unwilling to drive further, and against local advice, I did indeed launch from this spot-mainly because once committed down the slope no way could I drive out again with Chantilly still on the trailer!

    Impressed by this display of English foolhardiness, the captain gave every further assistance, including stowing the car and trailer in his yard for a couple of weeks.

    Although it was spring, the weather was not all that one might expect of the south of France-in fact it rained ‘chats et chiens’ for about a week, causing considerable flooding of the locality. Apart from turgidly, the canal proper was not affected, but we heard that where the canal crossed the River Hérault at Agde, the canal was closed. Just before AgdeThe tiny ‘Libron’ also crosses the canal: normally a ditch it becomes a raging torrent in spate and a Napoleonic ‘flood lock’ is brought into play to allow it to cross the canal at its higher level. To our dismay this was closed as we approached Agde and I feared unreasonable delays, but a conversation with the ‘army’ of lock-keepers that had been sent to operate this amazing device gave us hope-again ahead of an impending peniche-of being ‘locked through’. It was a unique opportunity to witness and assist with its very rare operation.

    Just before the locks the Libron bifurcates into two streams and rejoins just after. When needs press, the stream is allowed to pass across the canal through channels formed by sets of sliding gates, suspended on rails above, forming two sealed channels with a space of some 200m of canal between.

    To pass through when in operation, first one of the two streams is dammed off with sluice gates, the sliding gates opened, with ‘inch bars’on the rails above, boats pass into the lock space and the gates are inched shut behind. The same is repeated with the front channel to allow the boats out.

    The amount of clanking, grunting and expletives employed in this event have to be seen and translated to be believed!

    This ‘wonder’ was matched for eye popping only by the inclined plane at Beziers. A staircase of nine locks has, not unlike Foxton near home, an inclined plane or water chute alongside. Unlike the Foxton plane, this has a smooth-sided channel running from the lower point to the top level, with a great ‘machine’ which runs up it on rubber tyres, straddling the channel. Boats pass under the machine at the lower end, it lowers a great paddle into the channel behind the boats and then grinds its way uphill, pushing a wedge of water (1000 tons I calculate) ahead, discharging water, boats and, I suspect, a few fish, into the top level. Sadly, like Foxton, it wasn’t working so we had to take the ‘conventional’ locks down.

    The only reported account of its operation is an occasion when it was descending with three or four boats, the brakes failed, the emergency brake failed, the operator, deigning not to be associated with the impending disaster, leapt off.

    The device reached 25km/hr; the innocent boater thought it a wonderfully speedy alternative to locks until it hit the bottom pound. The boats did not suffer much, but the surrounding area did with the ensuing huge wave!

    After a couple of pleasant days spent holed up in Agde, we eventually were allowed to cross the still angry Hérault and entered the Étang de Thau, a sea lake 15 miles x 3 miles wide, crammed with oyster baskets and fishermen in 200hp punts. Although not above a force 4, the trip was quite adventurous enough in a 21 ft river boat and it took days to remove the salt stains from the brass work.

    Mèze before the Étang de Thau

    Stopping at a couple of lakeside fishing villages, we reached Sète- the official terminus of the Canal du Midi. From there we entered the Canal de Sète et Rhône, not without an enforced overnight stop alongside the rather inhospitable railway wharf due to the wind upping to a 6 and the waves being considerably higher than our spirits in the early evening.

    This last leg enters the Camargue, and although whilst true legend white horses and flamingos abound, the only black bull I saw was on my plate in a local Auberge!

    The canal passes within half a mile of the Mediterranean coast and a number of fishing towns in this area have their own cut from the harbour to the canal.

    One such town, Palavas-Les-Flots, advertised at its entrance a sadly all too rare a commodity on this waterways-showers!

    On all of our previous French waterways cruises we had found excellent waterside facilities by way of showers and toilets at many locks- but not so, on the Midi. Although we did manage to somehow meet our daily needs, it did require some ingenuity, and required that one showered and toileted at any hour of day or night, when the opportunity arose.

    We found ourselves lathering up in such places as a football stadium, un-let hire boats, ‘Douches à la Chantilly’, and occasionally, to our delight, in a marina.

    So this opportunity had to be taken. When we entered the town’s new marina, we were immediately ‘adopted’ by the Captain of the port, François, who gave us the prime berth-right outside the loo’s and offered us the freedom of the port. Within minutes, a small crowd of his boaty friends had gathered around, including a local reporter for the ‘Midi Libre’ who was also a member of the local old boats club.

    After giving a few trips around the harbour, and steaming briefly out into the Med, we were invited as guests of honour to a specially convened dinner by the old boats club, ‘Les Vieux Grémants’.

    On the Med!

    A convivial evening of good food, plentiful wine and probably misunderstood anecdotes followed, by which time the Commodore declared that they would be delighted to entertain any SBA or TVSC members similarly-but please would we not all come at once!

    Steaming continued well into the night with Chantilly taking the last of the party back to the marina at around 1am.

    Next morning, before breakfast was finished, visitors arrived once more, this time bringing gifts of wine, food, books, etc. More trips followed and we eventually left many new friends, a little sadly, amidst multiple whistle blasts and promises to return.

    It seemed like only a few shovels of coal before our journeying was completed at Beaucaire, then en train to Carcassonne to fetch the car and trailer for our return home.

    Our trip took us some 300 km with about 50 locks, we consumed 200 kg of coal (after coaling difficulties on our previous trips we took it all with us!) which computed to around 20 kg for each steaming day of 10-12 hours. We had no real mechanical problems, and to illustrate that we missed nothing, we arrived back home with only 5 kg of coal and five francs!

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