About the boat
Shamrock was built by Nathaniel Shepherd, Boat and Yacht Builder at Bowness-on-Windermere in 1906. Originally she was fitted with a Sissons triple expansion steam engine and was owned by W.M. Birtwistle until 1929 when she was acquired by Mr Birtwistle’s boatman Charles Ashley who ran the boat between 1930 and 1934 then by his son W. (Billy) Ashley until he and other boat owners formed the Bowness Bay Boating Co.
In 1948 Billy Ashley removed the engine and boiler converting her to a motorboat for the purpose of giving boat trips on the lake. In 1974 she was laid up and put up for sale.
In November 1976 Roger Mallinson, acquired Shamrock in a very derelict state, and between 1976 and 1979 undertook a huge restoration of the hull and cabin, then installing a new steam engine (Number 5) and boiler.
On Thursday 19th November 2009, Windermere rose just under 10 feet (3m) above average, causing many boats including Shamrock to come foul of overhead objects. Shamrock’s cabin was damaged by the unmovable steel and wooden beam holding up the first floor of the boathouse. The cabin was severely crushed, fracturing many of the wooden beams and breaking many pieces of glass. It was fortunate the hull itself was otherwise undamaged, the funnel having been removed before hand.
The two cylinder double high pressure engine currently in Shamrock was built in 2001 by Roger Mallinson and was his 32nd engine – numbered 3201. It has 4 turned steel columns with Marshall valve gear working both slide valves in one valve chest at the back of the cylinder block. Cylinder bore is 4" (100mm) + 4" and the stroke is 5" (125mm).
The inspiration for both engines, No5 and No 3201, came from a duplex steam pump and details from the original triple expansion engine by Sissons (also with Marshall radial valve gear, with a similar engine is installed in Swallow, a sister launch). The rear crank bearing is deliberately large so it can be used as the thrust bearing for the propeller shaft. All the design characteristics are based on achieving silence and reliability.
Locomotive type boiler, built in 1927 by Yorkshire Engine Co. Ltd. at Sheffield and originally used to power the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway locomotive ‘River Irt’.
It was purchased as non-working boiler because of very bad corrosion in the firebox. In order for it to fit the boat it had to be shortened, a new dome fitted, the firebox was patched on one side, and modified to fit a new side-firing fire-hole, removal of all corroded areas – converting it from a locomotive to a launch boiler.
It is coal fired, built from 1/2" (12,7mm) riveted steel, the barrel being 1' 10" (560mm) diameter x 5' 8" (1470mm) long with 32 x 1 1/4" (31mm) internal diameter fire tubes.
Two Penberthy injectors feed the boiler with water directly from the Lake. Other accessories are a whistle, blower, bilge ejector and very importantly a Windermere kettle which produces half a gallon of boiling water in about 20 seconds from cold. A white hemi-spherical porcelain hand basin with hot & cold running water (steam supplied) is fitted in the cabin.
The hull is classed as a Saloon Launch, built in 1906 by Nathaniel Shepherd at Bowness. Length over all: 45' 11" (13.8m), Beam 8' (2.44m). It is carvel built of teak planks on oak with elm timbers, varnished with a straight steam and a cruiser stern, aft saloon with a clerestory roof. She was designed so that one person could steer, control the engine, fire the boiler, and tie up alongside – original one-man operation.
Steering is achieved via two wheels, one in the bow section and one adjacent to the engine. The drive to the rudder is by chain and solid rods to the stern to move the quadrant mounted on the rudder stock. The bow wheel allowed the owner to steer if he wished, but with a “man” to drive the engine.
The propeller is three-bladed, 27" (840mm) diameter x 40" (1m) pitch, left hand, and is driven via a 2" (50mm) diameter solid steel shaft. The original propeller on Swallow was borrowed to use as a pattern for casting in PB3 bronze at Vickers in Barrow. It was machined by Roger Mallinson and finished whilst working at sea.
Shamrock is one of several similar boats built on Windermere boat yards over a number of years. None of the boats are identical, but all have their special features with Swallow being Shamrock's sister boat.
The other boats are currently not operational. Five of them were displayed at the Steamboat Museum until they were transferred in 2007 to the Lakeland Arts Trust who took all the boats out of the water for a much needed overhaul and this is still on going. Five of the boats from the same era as Shamrock are:
Hull: 1896, Builder George Brockbank, Length: 50', Beam: 9' 2"
Engine: 1896, W. Sisson & Co. Ltd., Compound, 7½" + 11" x 7"
Boiler: 1971, Hunslet & Co., Locomotive type.
Hull: 1898, Builder T.W. Hayton, Length: 40', Beam: 7'
Engine: 1901, W. Sisson & Co. Ltd., Triple Expansion, 5" + 6¼" + 8" x 5½"
Boiler: 1984, H.A. McEwen (Boiler Repairs) Ltd., Locomotive type.
Hull: 1902, builder Nathaniel Shepherd, Length: 45' 6", Beam: 8'
Engine: 1901, W. Sisson & Co. Ltd., Compound, 5¼" + 8" x 5½"
Boiler: 1981, H.A. McEwen (Boiler Repairs) Ltd., Locomotive type.
Hull: 1906, builder Nathaniel Shepherd, Length: 45' 11", Beam: 8'
Engine: 2001, Roger Mallinson, Model: Roger Mallinson, Twin, 4" + 4" x 5"
Boiler: 1927, Yorkshire Engine Co. Ltd., Locomotive type.
Built 1907 by Borwick & Son of Windermere, a saloon launch of carvel construction. Originally an Edwardian steam launch she has now been converted to Internal Combustion with the whole boiler section rebuilt to suit the new engine. She retains the funnel which is simply an extravagant exhaust pipe.
Hull: 1911, builder Nathaniel Shepherd, Length: 45' 6", Beam: 8'
Engine: 1911, W. Sisson & Co. Ltd., Triple Expansion, 4½" + 6" + 8" x 5½"
Boiler: 1990, H.A. McEwen (Boiler Repairs) Ltd., Locomotive type.
These boats all follow the same style of the times. A few other boats were built, some following the traditional wooden style, and some like Otto were made of steel. Other boats built at Shepherd's boat yard around the 1900's were Wasp and Waterlilly. Waterlilly is thought to be in poor condition.
How and why The Shamrock Trust was formed.
On the 20th November 2009, many of us awoke to news of the massive flooding in Cockermouth and Workington, and the developing stories and tragic loss of life there. But as these events were extensively reported, many of us were much less aware of another story that was happening on Windermere. Following the torrential rain, lake levels rose to an unprecedented level measured at 9’ 7” above the weir at Newby Bridge. For any boats inside boathouses, this was a potential disaster – and this proved to be the case for one of our beloved steam launches: “Shamrock”.
“Shamrock” has been safely berthed in a boathouse on Windermere for the last 30 years without any damage – but has had a number of close calls in floods. Under normal conditions there is a good 7’ of headroom above “Shamrock’s” cabin – but the arithmetic of a water level rise of 9’ 7” says it all, and the cabin roof was squashed against the steel beams.
To cut a very long story short (the long version can be read here), there was significant damage to the cabin. Unfortunately due to the extortionate cost of insurance for such water craft, Shamrock was not covered for flood damage under its insurance scheme. With the wood needed to repair the cabin costing more than an average small car, let alone the labour costs, it was suddenly evident that Roger would not be able to repair Shamrock by himself.
A meeting was held with members of the Steamboat Association of Great Britain and several good ideas were brought forward. The first spell of good news was Shamrock is not only registered with the National Historic Ships Register, but is also a member of the National Historic Fleet. Following discussions with Martyn Heighton (Director of the National Historic Ships Register), it was decided a Trust should be formed and take ownership of Shamrock.
Roger isn't getting any younger and has been quietly thinking about the best way forward for Shamrock. After many more meetings with various people, The Shamrock Trust was formed and now owns Shamrock. Together with a Limited Company and a registered charity, the funding was secured to pay for the Burmese Teak required for the extensive cabin repair.
The Trust and the Future
Now that Shamrock has been repaired and is once again fully working and gleaming as brilliantly as ever, the future of the boat and the Trust needs to be thought out. There are many parts to take into consideration; cleaning of the boat, mechanical maintenance, treating the wood work, ensuring a supply of coal, checking on the boat at regular intervals, raising money, planning day trips, and most importantly, ensuring the tea pot is never empty!
None of these things are going to be done by themselves, only by the Trust's volunteers and Friends of The Shamrock Trust can the work required be done.
Anyone can become a Friend of The Shamrock Trust. Simply fill out this form and send it off to the address.