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Joseph Mears - Thames Launches
Page 1: Fleet List
 
 
This page is devoted to postcards and photographs of the excursion ships and ferries of the River Thames company Joseph Mears, whose business passed to Thames Launches in 1947. Page 2 shows Joseph Mears and Thames Launches publicity

Joseph Theophilus .'JT' Mears (1871-1935), was an English businessman, most notable for co-founding Chelsea Football Club. He was born in 1871 in Hammersmith, London, the elder son of Joseph Mears, a builder. In 1896, Mears and his brother Gus purchased the Stamford Bridge Athletics Ground and went on to found Chelsea Football Club in 1905. Though he was never chairman, Joseph was the 'dominant influence' at the club after the death of his brother in 1912 with his son, Joe, and grandson, Brian, both later serving as chairman of the football club.

In addition to has river operations detailed below, he formed Joseph Mears Cinemas Ltd which built up a group of cinemas around the Richmond area. He was Mayor of Richmond from 1931 to 1932. He died in October 1935 and is buried in Richmond Cemetery in London. Mears left an estimated fortune of 30m.

Joseph Mears was one of the main operators on the Thames up from 1907 until the Second World War. In 1907, he acquired the business of the Thames Electric & Motor Launch Co at Eel Pie Island. His headquarters were at Richmond and he set about building up the largest fleet of passenger launches on the Thames. Boats acquired included The Victory, Halcian and England, which he put into service between Westminster and Hampton Court in competition with the large paddle steamer Queen Elizabeth (2) (which he later acquired in 1913). In 1908, Joseph Mears bought the first of nine large launches built for him by Salter Brothers, the Viscount of 106ft and 395 passengers. She was one of the largest launches of the middle Thames when built. In 1911, Joseph Mears had the similarly-sized Connaught built, also by Salter Brothers. She had a steel hull and tunnel stern (developed to protect the screw from weeds and other obstruction). In 1913, Mears bought the large paddle steamer Queen Elizabeth (2), which was kept until 1917, and the Duke of York from Harry Tagg. In the same year, the Viking was added to the fleet, and the Royalty was ordered from Salter Brothers. In the spring of 1914, the Princess Beatrice was purchased from Harry Tagg. Hurlingham and Kingwood arrived from Salters yard in 1915. His Majesty was purchased from Bonds of Maidenhead in 1917.
 
In 1919, Joseph Mears formed his business into Joseph Mears Launches & Motors Ltd, and acquired a garage in Richmond, along with several motor coaches. He added another Salters-built steamer in 1923, the Marchioness. He also acquired his first internal combustion powered vessel, the open boat Mutt, used on the Westminster-London Bridge route. She was soon joined by Jeff. Salters delivered Queen Elizabeth (3) and Abercorn in 1924 and 1925. The last tunnel-stern steamer built by Salters for Mears, the Viscountess, was delivered in 1926.
 
The Salters boats built for Mears were the Viscount (1908), Connaught (1911), Royalty (1913), Hurlingham (1915), Kingwood (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Abercorn (1925) and Viscountess (1926). All remain in service in 2006, except the Marchioness, which was lost in an accident in 1989, and Abercorn which suffered a major fire in 2005 whilst at her moorings.
 
 
Joseph Mears died in 1935. 39 different boats had been registered in his name since 1907, and the fleet had consisted of a maximum of 28 boats between 1933-35. The company continued until 1945, when it passed to a newly-formed company, Thames Launches Ltd, with a transferred fleet of 19 launches. In 1948 the fleet was:-
 
Thames Launches Steam Boats in 1948
Abercorn (1925: 110 ft - 92 gross tons), Connaught (1911: 106 ft - 78 gross tons), Kingwood (1915: 101 ft - 79 gross tons), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924: 110 ft - 91 gross tons), The King (1902: 81 ft - 50 gross tons), Viscount (1908: 101 ft - 69 gross tons)
 
 
Thames Launches Large Motor Boats in 1948
His Majesty (1896: 84 ft - 53 gross tons), Hurlingham (1915: 101 ft - 79 gross tons), Marchioness (1923: 85 ft - 46 gross tons), Princess Beatrice (1896: 75 ft - 52 gross tons), Princess Mary (1912: 60 ft - 25 gross tons - later Putney), Royalty (1913: 101 ft - 79 gross tons), Viscountess (1926: 110 ft - 83 gross tons)
 
 
Thames Launches Small Motor Boats in 1948
Jeff (1926: 40 ft - 7 gross tons), Kingston (?: 42 ft - ? gross tons), Mutt (1926: 40 ft - 7 gross tons), Twickenham (?: 36 ft - 6 gross tons)
 
All of the large motor boats in the 1948 fleet had been converted from steam to diesel between 1945-48. The remaining steam vessels followed suit soon afterwards.
 
In 1958 the Thames Launches fleet consisted of:- Abercorn (1925), Cardinal Wolsey, Connaught (1911), Hurlingham (1915), His Majesty (1906), Kingwood (1915), The King (1902), Marchioness (1923), Petersham (1913), Princess Beatrice (1896), Princess Marina (1928), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Royalty (1911), Viscount (1908) and Viscountess (1926).
 
In the early 1960s, Thames Launches experimented with hovercraft services on the Thames, using a Denny D2 carrying 88 passengers.
 
By 1977, the Thames Launches fleet had declined to Hurlingham (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Royal Princess (1935), Vesta (1956) and Viscountess (1926). Most of this fleet passed to Tidal Cruisers which later became Thames Cruises, the last vessel to be transferred being Royal Princess (1935) in 1984. In 1985 the Tideway was listed as the sole boat in the Thames Launches fleet.
 
 
 
The following is an attempt to list all vessels owned by Joseph Mears and/or Thames Launches based on the fleet lists in Frank L.Dix and other sources. I am working to find images of the vessels not in bold type.
 
Ships on this Page:-
Abercorn - Joseph Mears (1925-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1976), Catamaran Cruisers - built: 1925
Balmoral - Joseph Mears (1917-1940) - built: 1892
Brunel - Thames Launches (1969-1975) - built: 1969
Cardinal Wolsey - Thames Launches (1951-1956) - built: 1969
Cliveden (1) - Joseph Mears (1915) - built: 1892
Connaught - Joseph Mears (1911-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1959), Colliers Launches - built: 1911
Day Dream - Joseph Mears (1914-1921) - built: 1898
Denny D2-002 Hovercraft - Thames Launches
Diamond Queen - Joseph Mears (1916-1921) - built: 1897
Duchess of Kent - Joseph Mears (1930-1939) - built: 1893
Duke of York - Joseph Mears (1914-1941) - built: 1894
England - Joseph Mears (1905-1914) - built: 1900
Fordson - Thames Launches (1968-1977) - built: 1949
Formosa - Joseph Mears (1930-1941) - built: c.1882
Halcian - Joseph Mears (1907-1939) - built: 1907 - later Kingston
His Majesty - Joseph Mears (1917-1945), Thames Launches (1946-1966) - built: 1906)
Hurlingham - Joseph Mears (1915-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1977), Tidal Cruisers, Thames Cruises - built: 1915
Jeff - Joseph Mears, Thames Launches - built: 1923
Kingston - Thames Launches (1947-1951) - built: 1907 - ex-Halcian
Kingstonian - Joseph Mears (1930) - ex-La Marguerite - built: 1903
Kingwood - Joseph Mears (1915-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1976), King Cruises - built: 1915
La Burgoine - Joseph Mears (1910-1913) - built: 1902
Lady Emily - Joseph Mears (1911-1912) - built: c.1890
Marchioness - Joseph Mears (1923-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1977) - built: 1923
Margherita - Joseph Mears (1927-1940) - built: 1922
Marion - Joseph Mears (1922-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1952) - built: 1922
Merrie Thames - Joseph Mears (1917-1924) - built: 1890
Mutt - Joseph Mears (1922-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1952) - built: 1922
Oleander - Thames Launches (1965-1969) - built: 1937 - ex-Titlark II
Petersham - Thames Launches (1950-1969) - built: 1913
Prefect - Thames Launches (1973-1975) - built: 1949
Princess Beatrice - H.G.Tagg, Joseph Mears (1914-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1964) - built: 1896
Princess Marina - Thames Launches (1952-1965) - built: 1928
Princess Mary - Joseph Mears (1926-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1951) - built: 1912 - later Putney
Putney (1) - Joseph Mears (19??-19??) - built: 1913
Putney (2) - Thames Launches (1953-1954) - built: 1912 - ex-Princess Mary
Queen Elizabeth (2) - Joseph Mears (1913-1917) - built: 1895
Queen Elizabeth (3) - Joseph Mears (1925-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1977), Colliers Launches - built: 1924
Queen May - Joseph Mears (1910-1915) - built: c.1891
Richmond Belle - Joseph Mears (1907-1946), Thames Launches (1947) - built: c.1896
Royal Princess - Thames Launches (1984-c.1998) - built: 1935
Royal Swan - Thames Launches (1961) - built: 1921
Royal Thames - Joseph Mears (1916-1946) - built: c.1896
Royalty - Joseph Mears (1913-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1976), Wheeler Launches, Absolute Pleasure Boats - built: 1913
Sovereign - Joseph Mears (1933-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1949) - built: 1903
The Countess - Joseph Mears (1930-1934) - built: 1889
The King - H.G.Tagg, Joseph Mears (1916-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1977) - built: 1902
The Victory - Joseph Mears (1907-1913) - built: c.1905
Tideway - Thames Launches (1985) - built: 1973
Twickenham - Thames Launches (1948-1961) - built: 1942
Vesta - Thames Launches - built: 1956
Vigilant - Joseph Mears (1913-1915) - built: c.1890
Viking - Joseph Mears (1912-19??) - built: c.1905
Viceroy - Gosport Ferry (1902-1929), Thames Launches (1965-1970), Catamaran Cruisers (1971-1981) - built: 1902
Viscount - Joseph Mears (1908-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1970), Thompson Launches, Campion Launches - built: 1908
Viscountess - Joseph Mears (1926-1946), Thames Launches (1947-1976), Catamaran Cruisers (1977-1981), Tidal Cruisers, Thames Cruises - built 1926
Wincomblee - Thames Launches (1955-1959) - built: 1920
Yarmouth Belle - Thames Launches - built: 1892
Zodiac - Thames Launches (1978-1979) - built: 1950
 
 
Thames Passenger Boat Pages:-
River Thames Header Page - other operators
Salter Brothers
 
Associated Pages:-
Ferry Postcards
Cruise Ship Postcards
Ocean Liner Postcards
Simplon Postcards Home Page
 
References:-
Royal River Highway: Written by Frank L. Dix - published David & Charles 1984
Trip Out Guides - Written and published by G.P.Hamer - various editions from 1977 to 2005 consulted
Trip Out Guides are available from Geoffrey Hamer, PO Box 485, Southall, UB1 9BH
 
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Table of Individual Boat Pages
Name
Other names
 Built
 Connaught  
 1911
 Hurlingham  
 1915
 Kingwood  
 1915
 Queen Elizabeth (3)  
 1925
 Viscount  
 1908
 Viscountess  
 1926






Joseph Mears
Thames Launches



England
(built: 1900)
 
The England was one of the earlier boats acquired by Joseph Mears. She was built in 1900 in Reading for A.J.Bona, also of Reading. Between 1905-1914 she served with Joseph Mears. The card below was posted in 1908. The steamer on the right is The King.
 
 
Postcard of England (left) and The King at Richmond in Joseph Mears service.
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Joseph Mears brochure image of England
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Richmond Belle
(J.Mears: 1907-1946 - built: 1907)
 
Joseph Mears (1907-1946), Thames Launches (1947) - built: c.1896
 
 
Joseph Mears brochure image of Richmond Belle
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Joseph Mears brochure image of Richmaond Belle
Scan: Howard Webb
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Unidentified Joseph Mears launch at Richmond Bridge c1915, which looks similar to Richmond Belle.
If you can help please: Contact Simplon - Scan: Howard Webb
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Viscount
(J.Mears: 1908-1946 - built: 1908)
 
In 1908, Joseph Mears bought the first of nine large launches built for him by Salter Brothers, the Viscount of 106ft and 395 passengers. She was one of the largest launches of the middle Thames when built. Viscount passed to Thames launches with the rest of the Mears fleet in 1947, and ran for Thompsons Launches from 1971 until 1991. After three seasons laid up, she passed to Campion Launches. In 2006 she passed to Ed Langley and runs with Henley for Complete Pleasure Boats.
 
The complete list of Salters boats built for Mears were the Viscount (1908), Connaught (1911), Royalty (1913), Hurlingham (1915), Kingwood (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Abercorn (1925) and Viscountess (1926). All remain in service in 2006, except the Marchioness, which was lost in an accident in 1989, and Abercorn which suffered a major fire in 2005 whilst at her moorings.
 
More images of Viscount
 
 
Postcard of Viscount
Scan: Tony Langford
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Joseph Mears brochure image of Viscount
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Viscount approaching Teddington Lock from upstream (c.1951)
Photo: © David Lord
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Viscount at Canary Wharf in Campion Launches ownership
Scan: www.riverthames.co.nr
 
 
Viscount at Tower Bridge acting as tender to the cruise ship Deutschland
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 15th September 2007
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Viscount at Tower Bridge acting as tender to the cruise ship Deutschland
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 15th September 2007
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La Burgoine
(J.Mears: 1910-1913 - built: 1902)
 
La Burgoine was built in 1902 by her owner Alfred Burgoine (spelt Burgoyne by Dix, but clearly Burgoine on the second card below). Burgoine had run steamers on the upper Thames from the 1880s, and was one of the few owners to run as far down as Westminster. She was bought by Joseph Mears in 1910, and retained until 1913.
 
 
Photo of La Burgoine - with full length saloon
 
 
Postcard of La Burgoine - with open side sections and raised deck
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Connaught
(J.Mears: 1911-1946 - built: 1911)
77grt - 106ft long - 250 passengers
 
Connaught was built in 1911 by Salter Brothers for Joseph Mears of Richmond. After WW2, she was operated by Thames Launches (1947-59), H.G.Hastings (Kingston, 1960-62), Thames Motor Boats (1963-79), Metcalf & Aldrich and Colliers Launches.
 
The complete list of Salters boats built for Mears were the Viscount (1908), Connaught (1911), Royalty (1913), Hurlingham (1915), Kingwood (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Abercorn (1925) and Viscountess (1926). All remain in service in 2006, except the Marchioness, which was lost in an accident in 1989, and Abercorn which suffered a major fire in 2005 whilst at her moorings.
 
More images of Connaught
 
 
Joseph Mears brochure image of Connaught
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Connaught leaving Teddington Lock for Kingston (c.1951)
Photo: © David Lord
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Postcard of Connaught at Teddington Lock, in Thames Launches colours.
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Postcard of Connaught at Teddington Lock
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Connaught at Hampton Court, in service with Colliers Launches.
Photo: © Ian Boyle in 2001.
 
 
Connaught at Hampton Court, in service with Colliers Launches.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 24th June 2006.
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Connaught at Westminster, in service with Colliers Launches.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 3rd May 2007.
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Connaught at Westminster, in service with Colliers Launches.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 3rd May 2007.
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Connaught near Hampton Court, in service with Colliers Launches.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 17th July 2007
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Connaught at Hampton Court, in service with Colliers Launches.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 17th July 2007
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Royalty
(J.Mears: 1913-1946 - built: 1913)
 
Royalty was built for Joseph Mears by Salter Brothers in 1913. She later served with Thames Launches (1947-1976) and Wheeler Launches (1977-1998). In 2006 she runs charters for Absolute Pleasure Boats. She was sold by Absolute Pleasure Boats in 2010.
 
The complete list of Salters boats built for Mears were the Viscount (1908), Connaught (1911), Royalty (1913), Hurlingham (1915), Kingwood (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Abercorn (1925) and Viscountess (1926). All remain in service in 2006, except the Marchioness, which was lost in an accident in 1989, and Abercorn which suffered a major fire in 2005 whilst at her moorings.
 
 
Royalty at Teddington Lock
Scan: Howard Webb
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Royalty approaching Kingston Pier (c.1951)
Photo: © David Lord
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Royalty passing Surbiton heading for Hampton Court (c.1951)
Photo: © David Lord
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Royalty at Richmond Pier (c.1951)
Photo: © David Lord
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Royalty in service with Absolute Pleasure Boats
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 7th April 2005.
 
 
Royalty in service with Absolute Pleasure Boats
Photo: © Scott Neicho, 2005.
 
 
Royalty in service with Absolute Pleasure Boats
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th May 2006.
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Royalty in service with Absolute Pleasure Boats
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th May 2006.
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Royalty in service with Absolute Pleasure Boats
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 22nd March 2008
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Royalty in service with Absolute Pleasure Boats
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 22nd March 2008
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Royalty in service with Absolute Pleasure Boats
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 22nd March 2008
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Royalty in service with Absolute Pleasure Boats
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 22nd March 2008
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Royalty in service with Absolute Pleasure Boats
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 22nd March 2008
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Royalty in service with Absolute Pleasure Boats
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 22nd March 2008
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Duke of York
(J.Mears: 1913-1941 - built: 1894)
 
The Duke of York was built by her original owners Edward Finn (of Isleworth) in 1894. Between 1913-1941 she served with Joseph Mears.
 
David Cattell writes about her subsequent history:- I believe that after 1941 the boat was not used during the war for obvious reasons and she then sank until my father bought her in 1945. He had her pumped out and took her to Chertsey Meads until 1946 when she was moved to Laleham Reach. She stayed there until about 1982 as a houseboat, when I sold her to some people that took her to Windsor for a short while before being sold on again to a Mr Hole. Mr Hole then had her towed out of the Thames and up the north coast to near Durham and then lifted her out of the water, for possible restoration. I have not heard any other news other than in an Old Boating Magazine about ten years later. I lived on the boat full time between 1946 to about 1968 and then only at the weekends for the remaining years .
 
 
Postcard of Duke of York (1894) at Richmond.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vigilant
(J.Mears: 1913-1915 - built: c.1890)
 
Joseph Mears (1913-1915) - built: c.1890
 
 
Postcard of Vigilant
Scan: Tony Langford
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Queen Elizabeth (2)
(J.Mears: 1913-1917 - built: 1895)
 
Queen Elizabeth (2) was built in 1895 by Edwards & Co for E.Shand, for the London to Richmond service. She was 159ft long, carried 709 passengers, and was powered by 25nhp oscillating engines by A.Wilson. Queen Elizabeth (2) was the last paddle steamer built for up-river services. After 2 years, she passed to W.H.Pycroft of Putney, who kept her until 1902 when she passed to Queen of the Thames SS Co. Queen Elizabeth (2) was bought by Joseph Mears in 1913, the only paddle steamer he owned. Joseph Mears had been trying to obtain a "turn" from Westminster Pier since entering business, but without success. Buying the Queen Elizabeth (2) provided this. She was withdrawn in 1917, and broken up the following year. Despite passing through a number of owners, Queen Elizabeth (2) was always a popular steamer, and worked on the same route throughout her 23 years.
 
 
Advertising postcard of Queen Elizabeth (2).
 
 
Photographic postcard of Queen Elizabeth (2).
 
 
Queen Elizabeth (2) at Hampton Court
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Queen Elizabeth (2) in 1906
Scan: Howard Webb
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Princess Beatrice
(J.Mears: 1914-46 - built: 1896)
 
Princess Beatrice was built by and for Harry Tagg in 1896. She passed to Joseph Mears in 1914, and to Thames Launches in 1946. She was sunk in 1964.
 
 
Princess Beatrice with Joseph Mears at Teddington Lock
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Princess Beatrice with Thames Launches, passing Marble Hall Park near Richmond
Photo: © David Lord
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Princess Beatrice with Thames Launches at Teddington Lock
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Princess Beatrice sunk in 1964
Scan: Ben Mann
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hurlingham
(J.Mears: 1915-1946 - built: 1915)
 
Hurlingham was built by Salter Brothers in 1915 for Joseph Mears. She was 101 ft long and carried 325 passengers. Hurlingham passed to Thames Launches in 1947, when her steam engines were replaced by diesels. She was sold to Marine Transit Ltd in 1978, but was running for Tidal Cruisers by 1981, along with ex-Mears boat Marchioness. Regular services were run between Westminster and Greenwich between 1983 and 2002. Tidal Cruisers had become Thames Cruises by 1999, and Hurlingham remains in the 2006 Thames Cruises fleet, which now operates charters only.
 
The complete list of Salters boats built for Mears were the Viscount (1908), Connaught (1911), Royalty (1913), Hurlingham (1915), Kingwood (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Abercorn (1925) and Viscountess (1926). All remain in service in 2006, except the Marchioness, which was lost in an accident in 1989, and Abercorn which suffered a major fire in 2005 whilst at her moorings.
 
More images of Hurlingham
 
 
Hurlingham passing the Royal Festival Hall
Scan: www.riverthames.co.nr
 
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th May 2006
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Hurlingham and Viscountess
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th May 2006
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The King
(J.Mears:1916-1946 - built: 1902)
 
The King (1902) was built and operated by Harry Tagg until 1915, when she was sold to Joseph Mears who ran her from 1916-1946.
 
Length: 81ft
Beam: 14ft 6ins
Draft: 5ft 5ins
Displacement: 40.80 tons
Engine: Originally steam, later Thornycroft 75 Diesel, then Ford 120hp Engine)
Construction: Teak on oak
Builder: H. Tagg, East Molesey
Year Built: 1902
Operators: Harry Tagg(1902-1915), Joseph Mears(1916-1946), Thames Launches (1946-1985)
Gary Beckwith(1985-1989), WPSA (1989 - 1994), Morris Tolhurst (1994 - Current)
 
 
 
May Queen and The King (background) at Hampton Court, on a Hartmann postcard.
Card posted in July 1905.
 
 
England (left) and The King at Richmond.
Card posted in 1909, some years before The King became part of the Mears fleet.
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The King passing Surbiton heading for Hampton Court (c.1951)
Photo: © David Lord
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The King at Thames Launches yard at Eel Pie Island after an overhaul, winter 1950/51
Photo: © David Lord
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The King photographed at Borstal on the River Medway, 27th December 2006.
Photo: © www.riverthames.co.nr
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Kingwood
(J.Mears: 1915-1946 - built: 1915)
 
Kingwood was built in 1915 by Salter Brothers for Joseph Mears of Richmond. After WW2, she was operated by Thames Launches (1947-76) and Kingwood Launches (1977-??). In 2004 she was operated by King Cruises on sailings from Westminster to Kew, Richmond and Hampton Court.
 
The complete list of Salters boats built for Mears were the Viscount (1908), Connaught (1911), Royalty (1913), Hurlingham (1915), Kingwood (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Abercorn (1925) and Viscountess (1926). All remain in service in 2006, except the Marchioness, which was lost in an accident in 1989, and Abercorn which suffered a major fire in 2005 whilst at her moorings.
 
 
Kingwood at Richmond in 1922 with an Esperanto Congress charter
Scan: Howard Webb
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Kingwood at the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race in 1951
Photo: © David Lord
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Postcard of Kingwood at Teddington in Thames Launches ownership
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Dennis postcard L016067L of Kingwood at Westminster with the Houses of Parliament.
 
 
Kingwood at Westminster, in King Cruises ownership.
Photo: © Ian Boyle in 2001.
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Kingwood, in King Cruises ownership.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Milbank, 16th May 2006.
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Photo: © Ian Boyle, Milbank, 16th May 2006.
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Photo: © Ian Boyle, Milbank, 16th May 2006.
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Kingwood of King Cruises
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 17th July 2007
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Putney (1)
(J.Mears?: 19??-19?? - built: 1913 )
 
Putney (1) was built in 1913 and is described as running for J.T.Phelps until 1916. In the picture below from c1920 she appears in colours similar to Joseph Mears. I would be interested to hear if anyone can expand her history: Contact Simplon
 
 
Putney (1) in 1920 at Teddington
Scan: Howard Webb
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His Majesty
(J.Mears:1917-1946 - built: 1906)
 
His Majesty was built by the Bond Boat Building Co for their own use from Maidenhead. She was bought by J.Mears in 1917, passing to Thames Launches in 1946 with the rest of his fleet. She operated until 1966.
 
 
His Majesty heading downstream past Strawberry Gardens
Photo: © David Lord
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Mutt & Jeff
(built: 1922/23)
 
Mutt and Jeff (Mutt & Jeff being the first successful newspaper comic strip which ran from 1908-1982) were built for Joseph Mears in 1922 and 1923. They were small single-screw petrol/paraffin launches of 40 feet length. They both passed to Thames Launches in 1946. Mutt was sold to J.Watson in 1953. Jeff had gone to Arthur Jacobs the previous year, and was renamed Windsor Four until 1973, when she became Windsor Two. By 1985 she had joined the Turk Launches fleet, and was renamed Jeff in 1989.
 
 
Jeff in service with Turk Launches in 2006.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Teddington Lock, 18th June 2006.
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Photo: © Ian Boyle, Teddington Lock, 18th June 2006.
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Photo: © Ian Boyle, Teddington Lock, 18th June 2006.
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Marchioness
(J.Mears: 1923-1946 - built: 1923)
 
Marchioness was built by Salter Brothers in 1923 for Joseph Mears of Richmond. She was 85 feet long, and was converted to diesel power in 1952. Viscountess passed to Thames Launches with the rest of the Mears fleet in 1947. In 1977 she was owned by Thames Party Boats, followed by service with Tidal Cruises, along with ex-Mears boats Hurlingham and Viscountess. She was lost in an accident with the Bowbelle in 1989, 53 people losing their lives.
 
The complete list of Salters boats built for Mears were the Viscount (1908), Connaught (1911), Royalty (1913), Hurlingham (1915), Kingwood (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Abercorn (1925) and Viscountess (1926). All remain in service in 2006, except the Marchioness, which was lost in an accident in 1989, and Abercorn which suffered a major fire in 2005 whilst at her moorings.
 
 
Marchioness heading Yarmouth Belle out of Teddington Long Lock
Photo: © David Lord
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Queen Elizabeth (3)
(J.Mears: 1924-1946 - built: 1924)
 
Queen Elizabeth (3) was built by Salter Brothers in 1924 for J.Mears. She transferred to Thames Launches in 1947, and was sold to Thames Party Boats in 1978. She is owned by Colliers Launches in 2006.
 
The complete list of Salters boats built for Mears were the Viscount (1908), Connaught (1911), Royalty (1913), Hurlingham (1915), Kingwood (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Abercorn (1925) and Viscountess (1926). All remain in service in 2006, except the Marchioness, which was lost in an accident in 1989, and Abercorn which suffered a major fire in 2005 whilst at her moorings.
 
 
Postcard of Queen Elizabeth
Scan: Tony Langford
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Queen Elizabeth passing Teddington Weir and heading for Kingston (c.1951)
Photo: © David Lord
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Photo: © Scott Neicho, 2005.
 
 
Photo: © Scott Neicho, 2005.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Abercorn
(J.Mears: 1925-1946 - built: 1925)
 
Abercorn was built by Salter Brothers for Joseph Mears in 1926. She was sold to Thames Launches in 1947, and to Catamaran Cruisers in 1976. Abercorn was sold on to B.Murphy in 2002, and suffered a bad fire in 2005.
 
The complete list of Salters boats built for Mears were the Viscount (1908), Connaught (1911), Royalty (1913), Hurlingham (1915), Kingwood (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Abercorn (1925) and Viscountess (1926). All remain in service in 2006, except the Marchioness, which was lost in an accident in 1989, and Abercorn which suffered a major fire in 2005 whilst at her moorings.
 
 
Abercorn in Thames Launches ownership
Scan: Tony Langford
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Abercorn at Richmond in Thames Launches ownership (c.1951)
Photo: © David Lord
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Abercorn on a London Docks cruise - late 1950s/early 1960s
Photo: © Geoff Salter - Scan: Ben Salter
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Photo: © Ian Boyle, 26th May 2003.
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Abercorn was damaged by fire in 2005.
 
 
Abercorn was damaged by fire in 2005.
 
 
Abercorn was damaged by fire in 2005.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Viscountess
(J.Mears: 1926-1946 - built: 1926)
 
Viscountess was built by Salter Brothers in 1926 for Joseph Mears of Richmond. She was 110 feet long, and was converted to diesel power in 1945. Viscountess passed to Thames Launches with the rest of the Mears fleet in 1947. From 1977-1981 she was owned by Jackson Brothers (Catamaran Cruisers), followed by service with Tidal Cruises with ex-Mears boats Hurlingham and Marchioness. Tidal Cruisers had become Thames Cruises by 1999, and Viscountess remains in service with them in 2006.
 
The complete list of Salters boats built for Mears were the Viscount (1908), Connaught (1911), Royalty (1913), Hurlingham (1915), Kingwood (1915), Marchioness (1923), Queen Elizabeth (3) (1924), Abercorn (1925) and Viscountess (1926). All remain in service in 2006, except the Marchioness, which was lost in an accident in 1989, and Abercorn which suffered a major fire in 2005 whilst at her moorings.
 
More images of Viscountess
 
 
Viscountess in 1927.
Photo: © Roland Hastings: www.riverthames.co.nr
 
 
Viscountess passing Teddington Weir heading for Hampton Court (c.1951)
Photo: © David Lord
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Viscountess is seen passing Greenwich on the 09/08/1995, in service with Tidal Cruisers.
Scan: www.riverthames.co.nr

The Viscountess coming alongside the Old London moored at Lambeth Pier.
Scan: www.riverthames.co.nr

 
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th May 2006
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Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th May 2006
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Hurlingham and Viscountess
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th May 2006
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Hurlingham and Viscountess
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th May 2006
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Hurlingham and Viscountess
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 16th May 2006
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Princess Mary - Putney
(J.Mears: 1926-1946 - built: 1912)
 
Princess Mary was built for C.Southgate of Windsor in 1912. She passed to Joseph Meras in 1926, passing to Thames Launches with the rest of the Mears fleet in 1947. She was renamed Putney in 1953, in keeping with the other smaller vessels in the fleet, but was sold the following year.
 
 
Princess Mary nearing Richmond from Twickenham
Photo: © David Lord
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Kingstonian
(J.Mears: 1930 - built: 1903)
 
Kingstonian was built as La Marguerite in 1903 by T.Taylor & Sons for his own services. She was 74 feet long. In 1919 she passed to W.Mould of Kingston, and was renamed Kingstonian in 1902. She passed to J.Mears in 1930, although he appears to only have used her that year,
 
 
Photographic postcard of La Marguerite, later Kingstonian.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Twickenham
(built: 1942)
 
Twickenham was built on the River Nene as Pride of the Nene in 1942. She was bought by Thames Launches in 1948 and renamed Twickenham. She subsequently pased tp Premier Passenger Boat Co (1962-68), Tideway passenger Boat Co (1969-73) and R.J.Maynear from 1974.
 
 
Twickenham heading upstream passing Surbiton
Photo: © David Lord
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Petersham
(Thames Launches: 1950-69 - built: 1913)


Petersham was built in 1913 and acquired by Thames launches in 1950. Petersham broke adrift from its moorings in floods during the winter of 1963 with Princess Beatrice and The King. They were caught against Richmond Bridge. Princess Beatrice took the full brunt of The King & Petersham during the impact and sank. The King & Petersham were salvaged and repaired but Princess Beatrice was a total loss and had to be broken up. Sold to Jackson Brothers (RS) in 1970 and to Harbour investments Ltd in 1972.  Petersham was sold in 1972 to Fred Newton of Dingwall for the Cromarty-Nigg ferry. She was soon replaced by the Weymouth Belle which became the Souter's Lass, then her sister Coral Star III (originally the Poole Belle). Petersham was possibly either wrecked or laid-up after only a short spell in Scotland.

Press photos of Petersham
PETERSHAM (1913) - Thames Launches - www.simplonpc.co.ukPETERSHAM (1913) - Thames Launches - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Yarmouth Belle
(Thames Launches: 1955-71 - built: 1892)
 
48grt - 82ft long - 125 passengers
 
Yarmouth Belle was built in 1892 for services in Norfolk. She was brought to the Thames in 1946 by H.G.Hastings of Kingston. In 1955 she passed to Thames Launches until 1971, and then Harbourside investments until 1978. After a year with Marine Transit Ltd, Yarmouth Belle passed to W.Jackson in 1980, according to Frank Dix, but other references have her with Jackson Brothers in 1977. She passed to F&B Boats of Kingston c.1985, and to Turk Launches c.1989. Yarmouth Belle was later completely rebuilt and restored at the Turk boatyard in Sunbury-on-Thames. The paddle wheels and funnel are dummies.
 
 
Postcard of Yarmouth Belle at Great Yarmouth.
 
 
Yarmouth Belle on the Thames with Turk Launches, after rebuilding as a 'paddle steamer'.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 2001.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Royal Princess
(built: 1935)
 
Royal Princess was built in 1935 by Rowhedge Ironworks (near Colchester) for Alfred Crouch, with whom she served until 1965. She was the first up-river Thames excursion ship of over 100 gross tons. Her engine was supplied by Crossley of Manchester, driving a single screw. Initially Royal Princess had two dummy funnels, which gave her an imposing appearance, although the engine exhausts on the waterline. Her original service consisted of three daily cruises from Westminster to Richmond. She passed to Thames Launches and in 1984 was sold to Tidal Cruisers, who became Thames Cruises by 1999, who remain her owners in 2006.
 
 
Photographic postcard of the impressive Royal Princess
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Photographic postcard of the Royal Princess at Westminster Pier in the 1950s
Note both the tram and then modern bus on the Embankment.
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Photo: © Scott Neicho, 2005.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Viceroy
(Thames Launches: 1965-1970 - built: 1902)
 
Viceroy was built at Gosport for the Portsmouth-Gosport ferry service of the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Co in 1902. She moved to the Thames in 1929 for George Wheeler Launches, who kept her until 1946. Whilst reports indicate that she was re-engined as a diesel before entering service, the postcard below would indicate otherwise. Viceroy later served for PJ & RF Jackson of Hammrsmith (1946-1964), Thames Launches (1965-1970), Jackson Bros (Catamaran Cruisers) (1971-1980) and River Rides Ltd from 1981. I am not sure of her subsequent fate.
 
 
Postcard of Viceroy in Teddington Lock, on the River Thames
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Denny D2-002 Hovercraft
(built: 196?)
 
In the early 1960s, Thames Launches experimented with hovercraft services on the Thames, using a Denny D2 carrying 88 passengers. The D2 was powered by engines of 800 bhp and had a speed of 25 knots. Overall length was 83 feet and beam 19 feet.
 
 
Valentine's postcard M.6102 of the Denny D2.
The card was posted on 1st July 1963.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vesta
(Thames Launches: 1975?-1978 - built: 1956)
 
Vesta was built in 1956 for the Portsmouth-Gosport ferry service. She was sold to Thames Pleasure Craft in 1974, but was running for Thames Launches by 1977. She passed to Arthur Green as the Duchess M in 1978, and then to D.C & W.Tours in 1981. By 1983 Duchess M was under under the Capital Cruises banner. In 1991 she was on the River Tyne running charter cruises for Rolls Royce Limousine Hire, passing to River Tyne Cruises by 1995, when her fleet mates were the Catharine (ex-Tilbury-Gravesend) and Island Scene (ex-Blue Funnel). In 1997 Duchess M was back on the Thames at Southend, running services to Queenborough and Strood, plus local sea cruises. Her running mate was the Maid of the Forth. By 1999, Duchess M was the sole fleet member, and was sold in 2002 to the Lower Thames & Medway Passenger Boat Co for use on the Tilbury-Gravesend ferry, where she remains in 2010.
 
 
Duchess M (ex-Vesta) leaving Gravesend West Street Pier for Tilbury
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 5th May 2006
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Tideway


Tideway was built in 1973 for the Tideway Passenger Boat company. They had a second vessel Tideway Venture delivered in 1975. In 1985 Tideway was the sole remaining vessel of the once mighty Thames Launches, passing to M.Britton in 1987. M.Britton  ran hourly cruises from Westminster to the Tate gallery and London Bridge, jointly with D.G.Moore, who used the New Marie Louise. He later joined the Westminster Passenger Services Association and ran winter trips to Tower Pier and Greenwich). The company was later marketed as Thames Leisure Cruises, now running charters only. Tideway remains in the 2011 Thames Leisure fleet.


Tideway at the Thames Leisure pontoon
Photo: Ian Boyle, 2nd July 2009
TIDEWAY - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo: 2009 Ian Boyle



Tideway at Old Swan Pier
Photo: Ian Boyle, 15th April 2008
TIDEWAY - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo: 2008 Ian Boyle



The Tideway of Thames Leisure Cruises on the slipway at Strood on the River Medway
Photo: © Ian Boyle.



Tideway having work done at Greenwich
Photo: Ian Boyle, 21st April 2009
TIDEWAY - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo: 2009 Ian Boyle






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