One of the Lake District's most recognisable and majestic passenger vessels is about to celebrate her 85th birthday. 

MV Swan was launched on June 10 1938 and still sails daily on Windermere to carry people up and down England’s longest lake on elegant cruises.

Neville Chamberlain was the Prime Minister when she first took to the lake and the same year saw gas masks issued to the civilian population as the Second World War loomed. Millions of passengers have travelled on the MV Swan and she remains one of the best-loved original "steamers" in the Windermere Lake Cruises' fleet.

Skipper Simon Bond said: "It gives me a great sense of pride whenever I enter the wheelhouse and prepare to set sail in her. I just think of all the other skippers who have taken charge of her over the years. It’s a big honour."

The Westmorland Gazette: Skipper Simon Bond

The 251-tonne vessel is part of the National Historic Fleet and was built by Vickers Armstrong of Barrow-in-Furness for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway company to improve its Windermere fleet.

The distinctive Lakeland "steamer" has been modernised many times during her lifetime, with the last major refit taking place five years ago. Bow thrusters were also retrofitted in 2005 and she is a “twin screw” vessel with two propellers.

Simon added: "She was built to last with proper engineering.Despite her age it is very rare that anything goes wrong with her. That’s partly because we look after her so well but it’s also a testament to her original engineering."

Many visitors to the Lake District who want to take a cruise ask for her  specifically and she carries a crew of six reaching a speed of 10 knots. She even operated a limited service in the early years of the Second World War up until the 1941 season when she was laid up for the rest of the conflict.

The Westmorland Gazette: Majestic Swan on Lake Windermere

Service resumed on July 16, 1945, and she has been in regular use ever since.

Simon added: "I’m very aware of all the history behind MV Swan. 

She has such a lot of character and always looks so in keeping with the glorious surroundings of the Lake District. I’m confident she will continue giving passengers unforgettable cruises on Windermere for the next 85 years too."