Type: Passenger Vessel
Displacement: 33.46 tons
Engine: Ford Thornycroft 360
Builder: Salter Bros,. Oxford
Eight years after Hurlingham was launched, Marchioness followed her from the yard of Salter Brothers in Oxford. She was 20ft shorter and had a little less freeboard which caused her trouble in the 1970s, when they planned to increase her weight by enclosing her upper deck.
Either the weather was better before the war (and the happy memories of the carefree twenties make it seem like that), or people who went on the river to see and be seen insisted on enjoying the fresh air, come what may! Certainly, Marchioness was an open boat apart from the small amount of shelter offered by her awning and the enclosed lower deck. Joe Mears was the proud owner from the day she was launched in 1923 until 1945 and throughout this time she was propelled by her powerful steam engine, which was not replaced by a diesel until 1950.
Apart from her Dunkirk involvement, Marchioness, together with Kingwood and Hurlingham, was part of the 13-strong Thames Hospital Emergency Transport Service, which was formed when war began. Only the largest of the river passenger vessels were chosen for this, which suggests that the government feared mass casualties and congestion in the streets, which would make evacuation along the river the best solution.
In 1946, Marchioness was bought by Thames Launches and stayed with them for thirty-one years. Though some modifications were made to her layout, she kept her open top deck for another twenty years. In 1978 she was briefly owned by Thames Party Boats but became part of the Tidal Cruisers fleet in 1979. She was entirely enclosed with decks on three levels. Her bar, reception deck, saloon and dance decks, could accommodate 130 sightseers, 120 for a buffet or 70 for dining.
Sadly, on 19th August 1989, she was booked for a birthday party and in the early hours next morning was in collision with a dredger which ran over her and she sank with heavy loss of life.
See more here:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marchioness_disaster
Updated April 2018.