Tag Archives: Thames

Shannon Princess

The African Queen, formerly the Shannon Princess (1), is for sale.

Cardboard and paper

Some folk have been sailing on the Thames in a boat made of cardboard.

Over two hundred years ago, Isaac Weld navigated the lakes of Killarney in a boat made of brown paper:

Whilst engaged in illustrating the scenery of that beautiful locality, Mr Weld derived additional pleasure from the occupation, in introducing a young and amiable wife to scenes so familiar to himself. To facilitate their rambles, and profiting by his Canadian adventures and his skill as a “voyageur“, he constructed with his own hands the model of an Indian canoe. In the absence, however, of birch bark, he had recourse to successive layers of stout brown paper, creating a sort of papier-maché boat, sufficiently roomy for two. In this paper skiff he actually had the hardihood to intrust himself and fair companion in sundry adventurous voyages on the Lakes.

That is from “Mr Foot’s Memoir of the late Isaac Weld, Esq” in The Journal of the Royal Dublin Society Volume I 1856–57 Hodges, Smith & Co, Dublin 1858. Wikipedia offers a shorter account of the life of the remarkable Mr Weld. His Statistical Survey of the County of Roscommon, Royal Dublin Society 1832, is an invaluable source of information about the Shannon and the Royal Canal, but Mr Weld is also notable for his voyage, along with his equally adventurous wife, on the steamer Thames [originally Argyle] from Dublin to London in 1815. There are brief accounts of the journey here and here; the captain, George Dodd, wrote a book An Historical and Explanatory Dissertation on Steam-Engines and Steam-Packets; with the evidence in full given by the most eminent engineers, mechanists, and manufacturers, to the Select Committees of the House of Commons; togerther with the Committees’ reports, distinguishing and defining safe and unsafe steam-engines, and their proper management: comprising particulars of the fatal explosions of boilers at Norwich, Northumberland, Wells-street, and in America: concluding with a narrative, by Isaac Weld Esq, of the interesting voyage of the Thames steam-yacht, from Glasgow, in Scotland, to Dublin and London [published for the author, London 1818] available here, and Isaac Weld’s account is available here. Mrs Weld may have been the first woman to take an extended sea voyage in a steam vessel.

 

Thames boating accident

Info here and here.

More bridges

Some early pics of the Thames [h/t CELR].

“Lock keepers face uncertain future” …

it says here.

The liveaboard life …

… in London.

DUKWs and lifejackets

On 31 October 2013 I mentioned the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch’s safety bulletin about the DUKW fire in London and the DUKW that sank in Liverpool. There is more on the London fire today with a Guardian report on proceedings at the London assembly’s Thames passenger boat investigation committee. The Guardian headline read …

Duck boat passengers not wearing lifejackets when jumping into Thames

… and the story reported the Maritime Coastguard Agency’s maritime safety and standards director as saying that wearing of lifejackets would not have been usual on “such boats” and that lifejackets were safely stowed above the seats. The story also said that

London Duck Tours’ managing director, John Bigos, said the Cleopatra had the required legal number of lifejackets on board and that it was company policy that lifejackets were not worn on tours. He went on: “We have our reasons for this (non-wearing) but they are not to do with commerciality.”

There is a different policy in Ireland, where the Dublin Viking Splash operation says

Lifejackets: At the water entry point, customers are required to put on a lifejacket after the driver delivers an outline about safety on the water. The lifejackets supplied by Viking Splash Tours are Solas and CE approved buoyancy aids […].

The point that strikes me is that, in both UK accidents, passengers had little time to don lifejackets and would have been trying to put them on in a confined space and under less than ideal conditions. It seems to me that Viking Splash’s policy is the right one.

London Docklands

Big it up for the Museum of London Docklands, near Canary Wharf. You can go there on the DLR, always a bonus, which will counteract the queasiness you feel at proximity to a large number of bankers, accountants and lawyers.

Apart from any temporary exhibitions, the Museum offers a chronological account of the ports of London from Roman times to the present day; you start on the third floor and work downwards. The timeline anchors the narrative, but there is no attempt to pretend that there is a single uncontested history: conflicts over slavery, dock labour schemes and modern redevelopment are all presented, using a mixture of text, displays of artefacts large and small, models, paintings, audio and video. Easy to spend several hours there; the Docklands at War section was particularly interesting.

And if you have time afterwards, nip around to The Grapes for bangers and mash (£6.50) [or whatever you like] and a pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, which (weather permitting) you may be able to consume on the balcony overlooking the Thames, with the shingle below on which the mudlarks worked, while you remember all those Conrad novels and sing “Sweet Thames flow softly” .

How to collide

Cases, however, occasionally arise in river navigation, wherein it is not possible to avoid collision, either with vessels, barges, or boats; as, for instance, in the pool, near the Tower, &c, owing to the very crowded condition in which such places are generally found; being surrounded on every side by one or the other. In such a dilemma the only alternative is to stop the [paddle-]wheels, and let the vessels close together as easy as possible, taking care to guard the sides and paddle boxes with fenders, and using every endeavour to boom each other off; after which, let the Steamer drift with the tide, but watch an opening among the vessels for escape, and, so soon as it offers, set her on at rather better than half speed, in order to insure a command of her.

It is somehow consoling to know that even Commanders RN have been known to collide ….

The quotation is from Commander Robert Otway RN An Elementary Treatise on Steam, more particularly as applicable to the purposes of navigation, with a familiar description of the engine; Shewing the manner of its management in giving the Rotatory Motion; how started, eased, and stopped; the Nature and Properties of Steam, on both High and Low-pressure principles; its introduction into, and discharge from, the Cylinders, illustrated; as, also, how to ascertain the quantum of Actual Pressure at which the Engine is working; and the manner of Condensing Steam explained; together with a General Account of the operations of the Engine-Room; shewing the Accidents to which Steam Boilers are liable, and means of prevention; and, further, the Economy of Coals, how to be effected, &c, &c G Poore, Plymouth 1837.

This is a very readable book, available here as a free Google PDF, giving an interesting insight into the problems of the early naval steamers — and of their engineers.

Inland waterways traffic 2

Thames Clipper, London