Afternoon Cruise on the Steam Yacht ALASKA
Henley-on-Thames - Saturday 4th June 2011
Photos by Philip Hall, Peter Godliman and Ian Boyle
The Ocean Liner Society chartered the magnificent steam launch Alaska for a 4 hour afternoon cruise from Henley-on-Thames at 1pm on Saturday 4th June 2011. Alaska operates few public sailings and so this was a rare opportunity to travel on this historic vessel, which is powered by her original steam engine and has been restored to museum condition. She was chosen to carry HM The Queen when she attended the swan upping ceremony on the Thames in 2010 (see image below).
The weather was perfect and we spent a happy four hours gliding along the Thames.
HM The Queen on board Alaska
Alaska was built in 1883 by Horsham & Co. of Bourne End, Buckinghamshire and she was subsequently purchased in 1887 from W.H. Barbrook of Walton-on-Thames for whom she had been built. Her new owners were the Oxford firm of Salter Brothers, who used her on the weekly return service from Oxford to Kingston and back. Passengers spent the day on the boat, enjoying the delightful scenery along the journey, and stayed ashore in different hotels each night. In later years Alaska was used as a private party boat at Oxford.
Alaska served in the wartime Thames River Patrol, was then sold in 1942 for service further down the river with Joseph Mears and was laid up shortly afterwards. After withdrawal, Alaska is reputed to have been poled from Kingston to Oxford by a new owner. She settled in shallow water, was decked over and used as a boat hire pontoon. In 1974 she was rediscovered and identified by boat historians, ex-crew members and Lloyds. After being brought to a boatyard at Hurley, further research located her original engine at Kingston. Boat and engine were restored over a period of several years and a new boiler provided.
Alaska Home Page:- www.thames-steamers.co.uk