Sept 2018: Gondola ‘family’ reunion to mark ruby rebuild anniversary

Gondola cruising on Coniston Water

We recently held a family reunion of sorts on Gondola, as we welcomed former staff, volunteers and families with connections to the original Steam Yacht Gondola and her rebuild 40 years ago, to celebrate her ruby rebuild anniversary.

Stories were shared about Gondola’s long and eventful history, especially her restoration at Vickers Shipyard in the late 1970’s. Our guests included steam engineers, carpenters, shipwrights and past skippers. Among them was Mike Weir, who was the rebuild project manager at Vickers Shipbuilding, and Sheila Howell, the great-granddaughter of Felix Hamill, who was Captain of the original Gondola in Edwardian times. Many of the guests were able to contribute images and stories about Gondola, which were used to make a visual documentation of Gondola’s rebuild, displayed on the evening.

One of our guests was Lynn Holmes, whose father worked on the rebuild, and Lynn explained to us how Steam Yacht Gondola has another link to her family history. “Gondola has a special place in our family as my grandmother, my dad’s mum, used to go and stay with Captain Hamill and his family during the summer holidays - between 1910 and 1915.  I have a lovely photograph of her stood at the helm of the ship with the big steering wheel and a number of postcards which were sent to her during her visits to Gondola addressed to her via Captain Hamill, The Boat Yard, Coniston.  What a lovely way to spend your summers, sailing up and down Coniston Water on Gondola!” We have to say that we agree, and we’re thrilled that thanks to the efforts of people like Lynn’s father, people are still able to enjoy cruising across Coniston aboard Gondola today.

We loved hearing about people’s personal experiences with and connections to our beloved Gondola, and hope that the stories we heard can be shared in 2020 for Gondola’s 40th relaunch anniversary.

Gondola's boiler getting hauled out by crane by the shore of Coniston

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Find out from the crew what's been happening behind the scenes - from our quest to re-connect with people who rebuilt Gondola 40 years ago to our recent flagship award.