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River Thames at London, England
London County Council
The London city authorities invested heavily in a large fleet of new small paddlers to operate what would now be called a "River Bus" service along the River Thames, with frequent stops in the London urban area between Hammersmith and Greenwich.

Inaugurated in 1905, the operation closed with enormous debts in October 1907. In early 1909, the fleet of 30 almost identical vessels was sold off cheaply, many to a variety of overseas operators and found their way to a number of unusal (for British paddlers) areas.

Fourteen were sold to the City Steamboat Company, which immediately resold several ships bvefore inaugurating a more limited Thames service until 1914 when the company with its remaining ships was wound up in the wake of the outbreak of World War I .

Gresham was reported as still being in existence on land in Poland into the 1990s, having been withdrawn from service in 1968. Ben Johnson survived on Lake Luzern in Switzerland into the 1940s as a paddle steamer. The hull was retained and used for a new motor vessel which saw service into the 1990s from Luzern and remains as a floating hostel near to her home port.

Vessels built and engineered by the Thames Iron Works:

Alleyn
Boydell
Brunel
Carlyle
Gibbon
King Alfred
Morris
Purcell
Sloane
Vanbrugh

Vessels built by J I Thornycroft at Southampton and engineered by Scotts at Greenock

Ben Johnson
Francis Drake
Gresham
Raleigh
Shakespeare
Thomas More

Vessels built by Rennie at Greenwich (as subconractor to Thornycroft) and engineered by Scott

Christopher Wren
Marlow
Pepys
Rennie

Vessels built by Napier and Miller at Yoker, Glasgow and engineered by Scott

Caxton
Charles Lamb
Chaucer
Colechurch
Earl Godwin
Edmund Ironside
Fitzailwin
Olaf
Turner
Whittington

Vessels sold to the City Steamboat Company:
Charles Lamb, Chaucer, Christopher Wren, Earl Godwin, Edmund Ironside, Fitzailwin, Gresham, Marlow, Morris, Pepys, Raleigh, Rennie, Shakespeare, Sloane.

INTERNET LINK


London County Council paddle steamer fleet history presented by the Mid-Essex branch of the World Ship Society  


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River Thames Historical