Registration number 2
Status National Historic Fleet

Previous names

  • 1896 - 1959 Lily


Function Leisure Craft
Subfunction Launch
Location Windermere
Vessel type Saloon Launch
Current use Museum based
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No


Builder Brockbank, George, Windermere
Built in 1896
Hull material Wood
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Propulsion Steam
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Steam compound
Boiler type Fire Tube
Boilermaker Hunslet & Co, Leeds
Boiler year 1971
Boiler fuel wood


Breadth: Beam
9.31 feet (2.84m)
7.48 feet (2.28m)
Length: Overall
49.97 feet (15.24m)
Tonnage: Gross


This vessel was built in 1896 by George Brockbank of Bowness as the LILY and was a 50ft steam launch fitted with a Sissons compound steam engine for Mrs Howarth of Langdale Chase. The hull is carvel built of teak and the vessel is described as having a counter stern and a clipper bow with an aft saloon, 2 berths, WC, and a galley. Her engine is the original, having been built in 1896 by W Sisson & Co. Gloucester and is numbered 502. The current boiler is a modern horizontal fire tube design and was built in 1971 by Hunslet Steam Co, Leeds. It is believed to have been built as an exact replica of the original. LILY was intended to be the finest launch on the lake and has since been claimed to be one of the finest steam launches in the world. She remained the property of Mrs Howarth until 1919 and then passed to the Cowburn family who kept her until around 1958 – 1962 when she was sold to G.H. Pattinson, the Museum's founder. She is elaborately fitted out - the walnut panelling, embossed velvet upholstery, carpet and leather seats are all original. The galley has a solid white marble wash hand basin with beer pump handle and her 1896 WC still works. The most popular fitting is a copper tea urn adjacent to the funnel which boils a gallon of water in ten seconds. The kettle is worked by boiler steam passing through coiled pipes in the urn. These kettles were common on Windermere boats during the Victorian period, as were silver tea services engraved with the boat's name or family crest, together with accompanying tablecloths and maid's lace aprons. As the finest surviving steamboat on the lake, BRANKSOME had the honour of embarking HRH Prince Phillip for a trip down the lake during his visit in 1966, and HRH The Prince of Wales after the opening of the Museum on 18 May 1977. Source: Windermere Steamboat Museum and Motorboat Collection, December 2008.


What is the vessel’s ability to demonstrate history in her physical fabric?

BRANKSOME is a large saloon launch, built to the highest standards with a teak hull and a luxury cabin panelled with walnut and fitted with embossed velvet upholstery. She has retained her original steam engine. Whilst much of her planking below the waterline has been replaced with Iroko from 1970 onwards, her hull has been fully conserved and is in excellent condition.. She is very well equipped with a complete range of original fittings, including a ‘Windermere kettle’ – the popular copper tea urn adjacent to the funnel which was common on boats from this era and which could boil a gallon of water in ten seconds.

What are the vessel’s associational links for which there is no physical evidence?

BRANKSOME is a classic late Victorian Windermere steam launch, built for Mrs Howarth of Langdale Chase, who also specially commissioned the boathouse there for the launch to be kept in. From 1919 to circa 1960 BRANKSOME was owned by the Cowburn family. She has royal connections as HRH Prince Phillip took a trip on BRANKSOME during a 1966 visit to the Lake District and the Prince of Wales also went onboard during the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations.

How does the vessel’s shape or form combine and contribute to her function?

Her shape is the epitome of a Lake Windermere steam launch, representing true Victorian elegance.

Source: George Hogg, Registration Sub-Committee, National Historic Ships Date: May 2011.

Key dates

  • 1896 Built in Bowness for Mrs Howarth of Langdale Chase and named LILY
  • 1919 Bought by the Cowburn Family
  • Date unknown Re-named BRANKSOME
  • 1960s Bought by the founder of the Windermere Steamboat Museum
  • 1966

    HRH Prince Phillip sailed onboard

  • 1971 New boiler fitted
  • 1977 HRH The Prince of Wales sailed onboard
  • 2008

    Taken out the water and her engine and boiler removed. A recent survey has revealed that a substantial number of her teak planks and frames have been replaced with iroko in the last thirty years or so and that experiments were made with an oil firing in the 1960s. A Light Steam Power Freeheat Burner No. 4 was fitted c.1962 and a Swinney Burner was fitted in 1965. The new Hunslet boiler was constructed in 1970 and has only burned solid fuel. Source: George Hogg, Advisory Committee

  • 2019

    Installed as an exhibit within the Windermere Jetty Museum environmentally controlled exhibit halls.


  • 2013

    A grant of  £150,000 was given towards the captial development project by The Headley Trust

  • 2011

    The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £9,864,700 to the Steamboat Collection in Windermere to conserve and display these vessels

  • 2011

    A Sustainability Award of £540 towards the cost of fireproof cabinets for the archives at the Windermere Steamboat Museum was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

  • 2011

    A Sustainability Grant of £350 to cover the costs of attending the RINA Conference was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

  • 2006

    The National Heritage Memorial Fund awarded £465,000 for acquisition of 40 steam vessels


Norman J Brouwer, International Register of Historic Ships (Edition 2, 1993, pp137) pub: Anthony Nelson
Steamboat Register: An illustrated Register of surviving steam vessels in the British Isles (May Edition 6, 1994) pub: Steam Boat Association of Great Britain
Hillsdon & Smith, Steam Boat Register (Edition 7, 2000, pp44) pub: The Steamboat Association of GB

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