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KINGWOOD: Pro Gallery


Type: Passenger Vessel
Length: 106ft
Beam: 20ft
Draft: 2ft 6ins
Displacement: 70.73 tons
Engine: Leyland Thornycroft 760
Construction: Steel
Builder: Slater Bros., Oxford
Year: 1915

Being one of a traditional family of River Thames boatmen, Roland Hastings learned to make himself useful early in life. He remembers taking out his first passenger boat at the age of twelve, during the war years, and recalls how busy they were in the Thames holiday passenger trade, at a time when the seaside was strewn with mines and out of bounds to civilians. So dense was the traffic on the river, that he often had to push boats aside with his boathook before he could bring his passenger boat alongside.

The Kingwood was another Salters-built passenger craft which enjoyed the boom in river traffic. She was built in 1915 as a sister ship to the Hurling-ham. After her return from war service, Joe Mears owned the steamer until 1945, when he sold her to Thames Launches, who operated Kingwood for the next thirty years, after converting her to diesel in 1948.

In 1975 a fire broke out on board at Eel Pie Island in Middlesex. It destroyed much of Kingwood's after end and the following season she operated virtually as an open boat, without her saloon or top deck, or even a bar to slake the thirst of her summer trippers. Then, Albert Ellis bought Kingwood, took her to Robin's Lock at Limehouse and made her the modern-looking boat she is today. In 1985, Charles Wyatt took her over to provide a passenger service from Westminster Pier.

A small display on the forward bulkhead of Kingwood's saloon remembers the owner's father - then a sapper in the Royal Engineers- who was rescued from Dunkirk and whose medals and photograph are displayed beside the brass plaque which honours the Kingwood as a Dunkirk Ship.

Updated: 26/11/99

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