Two motor vessels, SWAN and TEAL, were built in the 1930s for the London, Midland & Scottish Railway as part of a plan to update and improve their Windermere cruise fleet. SWAN was built at Barrow by Vickers Armstrong and was launched at Lakeside on 10 June 1938. She was identical to her sister ship, TEAL, except that a slight modification to the design meant that she did not need to carry ballast.
Within two weeks of her launch, SWAN undertook her inaugural passenger voyage, on 24 June, when members of the Municipal Tramways and Transport Association departed from Lakeside at 11.30am and arrived at Ambleside at 12.40pm. Refreshments were served on board with the compliments of the LMS Board and an official souvenir brochure was published to mark the occasion. Both ships operated a limited service in the early years of the Second World War, until the end of the 1941 season, when they were laid up for the duration of the war. The service resumed on 16 July 1945. In 1948, ownership passed to the British Transport Commission and subsequently Sealink.
Over the years, SWAN has been modernised many times and has become single class. In 1975 the main saloon was extended, toilets moved below the stairs and the engine room entrance moved aft. During the winter of 1989-1990, her engines were completely overhauled and the ship refitted from stem to stern to match TEAL. SWAN had a major refit in 2002-2003 and carries up to 560 passengers on Lake Windermere.
Source: Paul Brown, Historic Ships The Survivors (Amberley, 2010), updated Mar 2011.
Hamer, Geoffrey, Trip Out 1995/6 - A Guide to the Passenger Boat Services of the British Isles, G P Hamer, 1995
Ships Monthly: UK Excursion Guide, August 2000
Built by Vickers Armstrong of Barrow in Furness
Laid up during Second World War
Ownership transferred to British Transport Commission/Sealink
Refitted and Gleniffer engines overhauled
Engines replaced with Cummins diesels
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