March 2020: Start of sailing season postponed
Well this must go down as the strangest start to the tourism season in history. We were looking forward to telling you that Gondola would be returning on Coniston Water 40 years on from her rebirth - today.
Despite COVID19, it is still the ruby anniversary of Gondola's return to service on Coniston Water, the lake she first plied in 1860, and of which she has been part, as a commercial vessel, houseboat and even as a dejected wreck for the last 160 years. Her miraculous story of survival is credited to the local people who rescued and painstakingly rebuilt her over a three year period to bring her back to life in her original Victorian form.
Following an appeal for the Gondola community to get back in touch, until we were so rudely interrupted, we'd been gathering oral histories to ensure Gondola's wonderful stories can be enjoyed by generations to come.
Pardon the pun, but as we are in the same boat as everyone else in the current global situation, our plans have been somewhat curtailed - all is not lost however. We're confident we'll be back at some point in 2020 and very much hope that we'll find later dates for our ruby celebration week - watch this space,
Over the winter, we've been hard at work repairing the deck, installing new window frames, upgrading the ship’s ‘throne’, fitting an echo-sounder as well as plenty of painting and varnishing. The beating heart of Gondola – the steam engine has been to Bouth and back for some TLC from steam specialist Alex Sharphouse of Old Hall Farm. In an effort to make Gondola more accessible, we fitted new bridge steps and handrails.
When we are back up and running, passengers will be experiencing the sum of 160 years of passion, dedication, sweat and tears – a real showcase of local skilled craftmanship and engineering expertise. We’ve been honoured to have so many Gondola friends get in touch in the run up to the 40th anniversary and we’re looking forward to sharing their stories.
During this uncertain time, we'd like you to know that we are thinking about you all. We'll still be keeping a close eye on Gondola and she'll be ready to grace the Coniston Water scene again as soon as circumstances allow. We'll aim to bring you nature, history and beauty into your homes through our web pages and Facebook page until you can visit us in person.
Stay safe and well, and we will see you soon.