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River Thames at London, England

London Steamboat Company and its successors

Steamboat services in and around London had traditionally been provided by the

London Steamboat Company and its successors,
Victoria Steamboat Association and, from 1897, the
Thames Steamboat Company (1897) Ltd.

Their operations were eclipsed when the London County Council decided, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to run steamers on its own account to provide an intense public transport-line service along the river in the city area. The Thames Steamboat Company (1897) Ltd survived until 1912. 

London County Council

The London city authorities invested heavily in a large fleet of new small paddlers to operate what would now be called a "River Bus" service along the River Thames, with frequent stops in the London urban area between Hammersmith and Greenwich including at the Embankment (see postcard view in the public domain, above, featuring PS Pepys)

Conceived soon after the establishment of the new council in 1899 and finally inaugurated on June 17th 1905 with HRH The Prince of Wales aboard, the operation closed with enormous debts in October 1907. In early 1909, the fleet of 30 almost identical vessels was sold off cheaply, many to a variety of overseas operators and found their way to a number of far-flung areas.

The remaining fourteen were sold to the City Steamboat Company at a further reduced price. A more limited and intermittent service was run but ships were sold off almost from the start.  In 1914 the company was wound up in the wake of the outbreak of World War I .

Gresham ia still in existence on land in Poland, albeit without machinery and sponsons, having been withdrawn from service in 1968. Ben Johnson survived on Lake Luzern in Switzerland into the 1940s as a paddle steamer. The hull was retained and used for a new motor vessel (Waldstatter) which saw service until 1996 and was broken up finally in 2001

Vessels built and engineered by the Thames Iron Works:

King Alfred

Vessels built by J I Thornycroft  and engineered by Scotts of Greenock

Ben Johnson
Francis Drake
Thomas More

Vessels built by Rennie at Greenwich (as subcontractor to Thornycroft) and engineered by Scott

Christopher Wren

Vessels built by Napier and Miller at Yoker, Glasgow and engineered by Scott

Charles Lamb
Earl Godwin
Edmund Ironside

Vessels sold to the City Steamboat Company
Charles Lamb, Chaucer, Christopher Wren, Earl Godwin, Edmund Ironside, Fitzailwin, Gresham, Marlow, Morris, Pepys, Raleigh, Rennie, Shakespeare, Sloane.

City Steamboat Company which took over from London County Council with a more limited fleet struggled on until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 although the original fleet of forteen ships, purchased on very favourable terms for a combined amount of around 18,000, had dwindled to six.
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