Gondola on Coniston Water

Gondola on Coniston Water


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This is the handsome steam launch and pleasure boat Gondola, first built by railway tycoon Sir James Ramsden in the 1850s to take tourists on tours of Coniston Water, and later rebuilt in the 1980s.

The local railway was originally built to transport raw materials mined in the Coniston Fells to Barrow in Furness from where they were shipped out to their final destination. Sir James saw the potential for the railway to transport tourists to the Lake District, and so commissioned Gondola to be built to sail on Coniston Water with tourists that had travelled on the Furness Railway Paddle Steamers from Fleetwood to Barrow in Furness. Gondola’s first and third class carriages reflect her close connection to the Furness Railway and can be seen today.

She sailed from the southern end of Coniston Water to the north daily from 1859 until she was decommissioned in 1936. From 1946 until the early 1960s she spent her life as a houseboat at the southern most tip of Coniston Water, until she was beached following a storm that wrenched her from her moorings.

During the early 70s, however, a group of National Trust enthusiasts decided that Gondola should be saved for the nation. When the vessel was floated and then surveyed, the hull was found to have deteriorated more than expected, and the so-called restoration soon turned to a quest to raise funds to rebuild Gondola through a national campaign.

The funds were raised and Gondola was rebuilt at Vickers Shipyard in Barrow in Furness and launched in 1980.

Read about her here:
Visit Cumbria site info

Read more and see Gondola’s astonishing figurehead here:
National Trust site info

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