New Windsor Castle

Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
New Windsor Castle
Boat Type: 
Thames Passenger Launch
Boat Length: 
105 ft
Boat Beam: 
15 ft 6 ins
Boat Draft: 
3 ft 9 ins
Boat Displacement: 
Not known
Boat Engine: 
Ford 6 cyl. Diesel
Boat Construction: 
Carvel
Boat Builder: 
Arthur Jacobs, Windsor.
Boat Year: 
1923

All those of us who love the river Thames retain romantic images of hazy meadows, willow trees, cows grazing beside the river, of rowing eights, punts and sculls, of men in boaters and girls in pretty summer dresses enjoying strawberries and cream in marquees at Henley regatta.

We think of the Thames as a narrow stream at Lechlade, of the Isis and Cherwell meandering through Oxford, the widening river at Wallingford and Shillingford Bridge. All along we see a variety of craft taking happy summer parties down to Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, past Westminster and under Tower Bridge to Greenwich. An unforgettable part of this picture are the elegant river steamers, brightly painted and some with gleaming, varnished hulls, full of happy people, bands and bars, the epitome of an English summer. What a contrast it must have been when war broke out to disrupt the carefree, leisurely world of the 1920s and '30s. Suddenly we demanded undreamed-of sacrifices from a pleasure-loving generation.

The New Windsor Castle was built in 1923 by Arthur Jacobs at Windsor as a sister ship to the Grand Duchess, to join Windsor Belle and Empress of India in the Jacobs fleet. They were all then driven by steam. The New Windsor Castle had a varnished hull and inverted compound engines by E Hayes & Sons. She did not have the lovely clipper bow which added so greatly to the elegant appearance of her sister ships, but she is to this day a beautiful river boat, an ideal vessel to carry her passengers in holiday mood through her beautiful environment.

When war began, the Ministry of Transport first called her up as part of the Emergency River Transport Service at the time of heavy air raids in the capital. This scheme was designed to relieve the congestion suffered by commuters through the shattered streets of London. Then she was one of twenty similar Thames passenger boats to go to Dunkirk.

Her low freeboard could only have survived the crossings in a flat, calm sea and this of course was one of the miracles of Dunkirk. One dreads to think what would have happened if the English Channel had adopted its more common angry mood. The New Windsor Castle is now owned by M.J. Turk, by Appointment Waterman to Her Majesty the Queen. Turk Launches still maintain their service on the Thames and are available for charter and for summer parties on this loveliest of all rivers. The New Windsor Castle is the oldest, largest wooden pleasure boat of its kind on the river.

Source: 2, 3, 4, 5, 11 & 19

Updated: 26/07/99