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This is the life! Doing your research in style!

The Steam Yacht Britannia
The Steam Yacht Britannia


On Wednesday, September 4th, 1889, at 2pm 'about 110' members 'met on Bowness pier, and embarked on Col. Ridehalgh's beautiful steam yacht the Britannia: in this well found craft they proceeded first to Lake Foot, and from thence to Waterhead, with a view of ascertaining whether it is likely that the Romans used the lake as a waterway.

Panorama of Ambleside and Waterhead
Panorama of Ambleside and Waterhead


At Waterhead carriages were taken for Hawkshead; on [sic] route the site of the Roman Camp near the head of the lake was pointed out.'

Ambleside Roman Fort showing relation between site and lake Windermere
Ambleside Roman Fort showing relation between site and lake Windermere


Ambleside Roman Fort
Ambleside Roman Fort


After the rest of the programme had been completed (this included tea provided in Hawkshead Town Hall, and dining at the Queen's Hotel, Ambleside), the President 'moved a vote of thanks to Colonel Ridehalgh for the kind way in which he had taken members round the lake. (Applause)'. He declared that 'The trip had added greatly to the eclat of the meeting, and it was a pleasure to embark on that beautiful yacht'.

Hawkshead Parish Church
Hawkshead Parish Church


Actually, the President revealed that he had already been at the receiving end of quite a bit of teasing about this event. It turned out that 'A friend of his had remarked to him, on seeing the programme proposed for the meeting, that they were going to have very little archaeology and a great deal of pic-nic'. However, the President had robustly countered this.

He maintained that 'The first thing for an archaeologist to do, was to endeavour to understand the topography of the district in which he was interested'; and he claimed that that was exactly what the members were trying to do 'when they went up and down the lake that day'!

The conclusion the President had drawn as the result of the voyage was 'that the Romans must have used the lake for the conveyance of stone from Dalton-in-Furness to the north end of Windermere, where there was a Roman camp'.

Point proved!

Not surprisingly, 'The vote of thanks to Colonel Ridehalgh was carried with acclamation'.

NOTE

Britannia was built for Colonel Ridehalgh in 1879 at a cost of £12,000. It was designed by Seaths, the firm founded by Thomas Bollen Seath of Prestonpans, and was built at Lakeside, having been brought there in sections. A two-masted steam yacht, she measured 96 feet in length and weighed 49 tons; and she offered extremely comfortable accommodation for 122 passengers.

In 1907, she was purchased by the Furness Railway for £500, the last vessel bought by that company. Before WW1 she was used as a charter vessel; but she was laid up in 1915 and was scrapped in 1919.

































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