ULLSWATER ‘steamer’, Lady of the Lake - believed to be the oldest passenger vessel in the world - will be gently lowered back on to the lake next week, following a six-month refit.
The popular boat, which can carry up to 220 passengers, has undergone its first major works since 1975.
During her six months away, a 1,200mm extension to her saloon forehead has been created, which provides more indoor space for both passengers and private groups chartering the boat. Her wheelhouse and funnel have been slid backwards, but remains the same in red with its famous stag head. The upper deck has been completely renewed with sustainable wood, Ivoko.
Lady of the Lake, which was first launched in June 1877, will be slid back into the water on either Monday or Tuesday of next week. Her entry will take place at the steamer slipway, at the north-east head of the lake, between around 9.30am and 10am.
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Lady of the Lake was designed in Penrith and built in Rutherglen near Glasgow. She was transported to Ullswater in sections, by both rail and horse-drawn drays, before being assembled near to Pooley Bridge. In 1889, she was tested on the water against the new vessel in the fleet, Raven, and proved that there was still life in the lady, as she saw off the newcomer and arrived first in the trial, much to the delight of her crew.
That fighting spirit has never deserted her. In 1881, she sunk at her moorings and then she sank a second time in 1958, before being damaged by fire in 1965. After this, she was out of service for 14 years. Politician William Whitelaw then re-launched her in 1979, following her extensive refurbishment. That was the last time she left the lake prior to this recent refit.
The boat’s arrival will take the fleet size back up to five boats. Other vessels in the fleet are Raven, Lady Wakefield, Western Belle and Lady Dorothy.