Registration number 380
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Passenger Vessel
Subfunction Excursion
Location Windermere
Vessel type Excursion
Current use Commercial Activity
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions Yes


Builder Forrestt & Sons Ltd, Wivenhoe
Built in 1891
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
18.00 feet (5.49m)
9.00 feet (2.75m)
Length: Overall
145.70 feet (44.44m)
Tonnage: Gross


In 1890, the Furness Railway ordered a new vessel from Forrest & Co., of Wivenhoe in Essex. She was to have been named SWALLOW, but after a last-minute change, she was launched in June 1981 as TERN. Transported in sections by rail from Wivenhoe to Windermere, she was assembled at Lakeside, and was the largest ship on Windermere when launched. She was powered by a 200 bhp twin screw propeller with two sets of horizontal two crank compression expansion engines manufacturered by Westray Copeland of Barrow-in-Furness. A distinctive feature of her appearance, which has been retained, was the canoe bow. She had two masts, an open navigating platform just forward of her funnel, which was positioned amidships. Two years later, in November 1893, she sank at her Lakeside moorings in severe gales but was refloated the same night. In 1923, the railway regrouping took her into the ownership of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway. During the Second World War, she was moored at Bowness Pier, requisitioned as a sea cadet training ship and temporarily renamed HMS UNDINE after the submarine launched at Barrow-in-Furness, which was adopted by Ambleside and Bowness during the war. In 1948, railway nationalisation led to TERN's ownership passing to the British Transport Commission, whose fleet later became Sealink. In the winter of 1957/58, TERN was re-engined with two six-cylinder 120-bhp Gleniffer diesels, her tall funnel was replaced by a shorter, raked funnel, and she was reclassified as a one-class ship. An enclosed wheelhouse was later built over the navigating platform. In 1984, Sealink was privatised and the new owners were Sea Containers Ltd., who renamed the Windermere operation 'The Winderemere Iron Steamboat Company'. In the winter of 1990-1, TERN was refitted to more closely resemble her original steamer appearance: a tall, thin funnel was reinstated, an enclosed wooden wheelhouse was erected at the forward end of the upper deck, and an awning was constructed to cover the remaining part of the upper deck. In 1993, the fleet returned to private, local ownership when the Bowness Bay Boating Company purchased it, and it now operates as Winderemere Lake Cruises where TERN continues to make trips. Source: Paul Brown, Historic Ships The Survivors (Amberley, 2010), updated Feb 2011.

Key dates

  • 1891

    Built by Forrest & Son, Wivenhoe, Essex for the Furness Railway Company and transported by rail in sections to the Lake District

  • 1958

    Diesel engines installed

  • 1923

    Bought by the London Midland & Scottish Railway

  • 1948

    Bought by British Rail/Sealink

  • 1985

    Bought by Windermere Iron Steamboat Co.Ltd

  • 1993

    Bought by Windermere Lake Cruises Limited

  • 1991

    Restored and re-commissioned on her centenary

  • 1998

    Major refit and new Cummins diesel engines fitted


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 2000, August 2000
Pitman, Joanna, The Times: Steamer refit means a Tern for the better on the lake, 24 August 1996

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