The Liddesdale Canoe

The Liddesdale Canoe

Help the Liddesdale sail again

The story

In 1920, a boat was created in a Maidenhead yard. This boat was designed to be highly elegant, highly fashionably and strikingly beautiful; no doubt the jewel in the crown of she who would take it home. Nancy Astor – the legendary host of Cliveden Estate from 1906 – wanted to extend her celebrated hospitality onto the Thames waters that surrounded their land. The Liddesdale boat came to Cliveden that same year, and quickly became the pièce de résistance of an Astor party. Hundreds of illustrious guests canoed underneath the summer sun in this mahogany beauty, and it became a staple of a Cliveden gathering for over forty years.

The missing years

The Liddesdale disappeared from the estate around the mid-1960s and the next three decades remain a mystery. In 1990, the then-director of Cliveden hotel bought it from a boat dealer after the Liddesdale had been found in an historic dockyard in Chatham. The canoe was brought home to Cliveden and restored by the hotel, being used as part of their flotilla up until 2011.

Since then, time has taken its toll and the Liddesdale has been languishing in the Boathouse ever since, forlorn and unseen. When the hotel decided to sell it on, they kindly gave the National Trust first refusal. Would we want to restore it to its former glory? Would we be able to take this on?

We hope one day the Liddesdale Canoe will sail down the Thames again
The Liddesdale Canoe
We hope one day the Liddesdale Canoe will sail down the Thames again

A very generous donation

We wouldn’t have been able to afford the Liddesdale if not for a £9000 donation from a very generous source. With their help, we were able to buy the canoe and bring her back home.

But the story doesn’t stop there. The Liddesdale sorely needs restoring if she is to sail again. We want to see a time when our visitors take to the Thames in the Liddesdale again, just as the glitterati did ninety years ago. If we’re to offer these historic trips here at Cliveden, we need to start work. We need to repair the degraded timber on its ribs, floor and keel, undertake maintenance work to the stern gear, replace the battery and make a new canopy and cushions. The Liddesdale has had a few alterations over the years, but it’s time to bring it back to life again.

How can you help?

We want to offer this incredible opportunity for our visitors; to glide across the Thames in the very same boat that entertained Nancy, her husband Waldorf and their famous friends.  It’s estimated that the work needed to restore the canoe will cost £20,000 and we can’t raise those funds alone.

If you’d like to help, please e-mail, call 01628 605069 or pop into the Information Centre.

The Liddesdale is a particularly beautiful - and now sadly rather rare – example of its type from a bygone era. Let’s get her – and you - on those waters again.