Steam Yacht Gondola

(See also Brantwood)

Gondola Steam Yacht near Brantwood jetty by Tony Richards Lakeland CamThe steam yacht Gondola, owned by the National Trust, was commissioned by Sir James Ramsden, a director of the Furness Railway Company in the late 1850s.

At the time, the railway was busy transporting mined goods from the Coniston fells to Barrow-in-Furness, and he felt like he could make money by an extra attraction for tourists who were using the train as well. Tourists traveled on the paddle steamers owned by the railway from Fleetwood to Barrow-in-Furness, and the trip across Coniston Water could appeal to these visitors.

Gondola Steam Yacht by Tony Richards Lakeland CamIn 1859 the Gondola began sailing from the southern end of the lake to the north. The boat was decommissioned in 1936 and between 1946 to the early 60s it served as a houseboat. In 1960 a wild storm tore the boat from its mooring and blew it on to the beach.

In the 1970s a number of National Trust members felt it should be saved and had it floated and checked out. The hull of the boat was in a state of deterioration and needed to be restored. Money was raised through a national campaign, and the Gondola was re-built at the Vickers Shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness. It was re-launched in 1980.

Steam Gondola engine by Barbara Ballard Destinations-UK-IrelandThe gondola originally burned coal, but it now uses renewable fuel made from wood waste of north Wales manufacturing plants. This switch eliminated 90% of its emissions-from 105 to 10 tons per year. Ash from the wood will be recycled as fertilizer. Other environmental issues were addressed by improving the boiler insulation and retaining its heat by covering it at night to keep its temperature warmer.

The steam yacht Gondola sails across Coniston Water from Coniston pier to Brantwood jetty every day (weather permitting) from April to October each year. On the weekends it stops at Monk Coniston along the way. There are special evening cruises and guided walks combined with a cruise. There is an undercover section.

Steam Yacht Gondola on Coniston Water by Graeme DougalVisitor Information
From Ambleside travel the A593; the pier is at end of Lake Road.
From Coniston village travel south turning left just after the petrol station.
Parking: pay and display at Coniston pier
Open: April-end Oct, daily, 11am-2.30pm; sailing times and routes vary and are subject to weather conditionsócheck by phone
Tel. 0 153 94 32 733

Note: Please check opening times and dates before visiting in case of changes.

Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy of Graeme Dougal, Tony Richards

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