Type: Passenger Vessel
Displacement: 87.65 tons
Engine: Leyland/Thornycroft 760
Boat Construction: Steel
Builder: Salter Bros., Oxford
Another passenger boat built by Salter Brothers of Oxford seven years after the Viscount is the Hurlingham. In Edwardian times, gentlemen in white flannels, striped blazers and straw boaters would take their ladies for a cruise on the Thames on Hurlingham's open top deck or under the canvas awning, which covered the foredeck. Rows of life-buoys lined the guardrails and bulkheads and there was a saloon down below for the less adventurous.
Hurlingham was a tunnel-stern steamship, powered by a W. Sisson compound steam engine which was not replaced by a diesel until the 1950's. She was called up for Dunkirk and then spent most of the war in the River Emergency Service as a supply tender. After the war she was acquired by Thames Launches and thirty-one years later, for a season, by Marine Transit Ltd.
Like her sister ships, she was gradually up-graded and modernised, providing safe, enclosed accommodation, giving access to the fresh air only through her sliding sunroof and her covered foredeck. Down below, there is a bar and when she isn't taking passengers down-river to Greenwich, she is available as a floating discotheque, or can accommodate a pop group or a jazz band.
Since 1979 she has been operated by Tidal Cruises Limited and her large, rebuilt accommodation can take 200 sightseers, 180 guests for a dance or a wedding, or 132 for a sit-down dinner.
As London's road traffic becomes more and more congested, passenger boats are coming into their own, giving visitors a varied and delightful view of the capital, along an historic highway, used since before the Romans by kings and commoners and still accessible on board passenger ships which took part in the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.