I have always been fascinated by the beauty of the English Lake District, ever since my first visit as a hitch hiker 60 years ago. I was a youth who was born and raised in a seaside town and the splendor of the green hills and blue lakes was breathtaking. One of the thrills way back in 1957 was to take a ferry ride on the Lake Windermere ‘steamer’ Lady of the Lake. I knew the vessel was old, but the whole area had old-world charm and tranquility about it that was so appealing and whilst the old lady looked just the part, I can’t remember thinking she looked 80 years old. I didn’t give it a thought really, until a couple of weeks ago, when I read that MY Lady of the Lake celebrated her 140th birthday in June of this year.
Some other facts, mainly from Wikipedia, that were interesting, included the following.
The MY Lady of the Lake is a passenger vessel operating for Ullswater ‘Steamers’ on the lake of Ullswater in the English Lake District, where she has spent her entire working life. She was built in 1877 as a steam vessel, but converted to diesel power in 1936, when she became a Motor Yacht. She is believed to be the oldest working passenger ferry in the world, and is a member of the National Historic Fleet.
The Lady of the Lake has a length of 96.95 feet (29.55 m), a beam of 14.75 feet (4.50 m) and a draught of 2.39 feet (0.73 m). Her gross tonnage is 43, and she can carry 110 passengers.
She was built by T.B. Seath & Co at Rutherglen near Glasgow, transported in three sections by rail to Penrith, and thence by horse drays to Waterside near Pooley Bridge. She was assembled on the slipway at Waterside and launched on 26 June 1877.
In 1965 the vessel was badly damaged by fire and was out of service for 14 years, before being restored, re-engined and re-launched on 19 May 1979.
What I find quite ironic is the fact that a few weeks ago I published a news article telling the world that Solar Solve had been successful in winning the contract to supply SOLASAFE anti-glare roller sunscreens and ROLASOLV Type Approved roller blinds to the UK Navy’s latest pair of aircraft carriers. Something that we are very proud of and I also highlighted the fact that these two vessels have a life expectancy of 50 years, which tends to pale into insignificance compared to the 140 year old Lady of the Lake.
Top Image – MY Lady of the Lake was launched on Lake Windermere on 26 June 1877 as a ferry and pleasure launch and has been there for all of the 140 years since. She is believed to be the oldest working passenger ferry in the world.