The Keswick Launch Company was formed in 1935 when many of the individual operators on Derwentwater joined to form one company.
About Keswick Launch Co.
Boats of many kinds have always been seen on Derwentwater, but it was from the days when Peter Crosthwaite and Joseph Pocklington organised their celebrated annual Regatta in 1781 that the water became a hive of activity with sailing boats, steam boats and motor boats regularly plying the length and breadth of the lake.
In 1898 Mr Caesari, the Manager of The Lodore Hotel, bought a 53 seater to ferry his guests and other passengers across Derwentwater from the foreshore at Keswick. ‘Lorna Doone’ was a screw steamer which was pulled by dray horses all the way from Ullswater, through Keswick and down to the Lodore Hotel in Borrowdale.
Until 1935 boat hire on Derwentwater had very much a cottage industry feel about it with individual operators vying for trade with small rowing boats, Then in 1935, The Keswick upon Derwentwater Launch Company was formed.
The company started operations with one boat ‘The May Queen’ who, with its 70 seats, became successful very quickly and the company expanded with the purchase of the ‘Annie Mellor’. ‘Waterlily’, ‘Princess Margaret Rose’,’ Lady Derwentwater’ and ‘Iris’ brought the fleet up to six which allowed the company to run regular cruises in both directions around the lake.
George W. Hodgson O.B.E.
This website is dedicated to the memory of George W. Hodgson, O.B.E., a good friend of the Lake District and its younger visitors especially, a former Mayor of Keswick and a tireless worker for the R.A.F. Association.
George was Managing Director of Keswick Launch on Derwentwater Company from 1975 – 1996.
The May Queen and The Waterlily
Pleasure boat regulations changed following the Marchioness Disaster in 1989 and both The May Queen and Waterlily, who had been taken out of service in the late 1980s and early 1990’s were both uneconomical to refurbish to the new standards and were broken up.
The Annie Mellor is a passenger vessel built in 1932 by Borwick & Sons as a houseboat for Sir George Mellor, JP. At the time, there was seating for 120 with accommodation for 40 in the cabin which was furnished in blue velvet with mahogany and brass fittings. It arrived at Derwentwater in 1935 and after a total rebuild in 2008 is in regular use.
Annie Mellor was the sister of Sir George Mellor, JP, who was appointed a knighthood in 1921 for public and national services, particularly in connection with The King’s Lancashire Military Convalescent Hospital, Blackpool.
The Lady Derwentwater was built in 1926 and was the original ‘Annie Mellor’ but was re-named after the larger ‘Annie Mellor’ vessel was built in 1932. Lady Derwentwater has 92 seats and was refurbished to new standards and is in regular use. This sailing vessel was used in the 1973 Swallows and Amazons film.
The Princess Margaret Rose
The Princess Margaret Rose was built in the 1930s especially for the lake. With 95 seats, it is in regular use.
The Lakeland Mist began life as an Amsterdam River Boat in 1962, transferring to Loch Lomond in 1990 before arriving at Derwentwater in 1998. Seating 74, the Lakeland Mist is in regular use.
Sources: Lytham St Annes Art Council; National Historic Ships.org.uk; Lakeland Waterways; Keswick Launch Company.
Images: Abraham Photographic, Russell Birkett.