SL Kittiwake, 1898

Builder T W Hayton, Bowness
Length 40’
Beam 7’
Hull Teak
Engine Sissons triple expansion, bore 5”, 6.25”, 8”, stroke 5.5”
Boiler Locomotive, left hand firing

Kittiwake like many of the other Windermere Steam Launches in the collection was built for a wealthy industrialist family who built a holiday home in the Lake District. However, unlike the other craft, Kittiwake has a counter stern, no awning aft of the cabin and she has port operated engine. Kittiwake is fitted with her original Sissons triple expansion steam engine.

History and ownership

Kittiwake was built for William Grimble Groves in 1898, a brewer from Manchester who bought the Holehird estate in Troutbeck in 1897. Kittiwake was used in much the same way as other steam launches – by family and friends for elegant afternoon tea parties, and also by charitable organisations, such as giving nurses a few hours of relaxation in the lake.

The Groves’ were a philanthropic family giving much to the Westmorland community. In 1920 William G Groves gave funds to Windermere Urban District Council to purchase Ellerthwaite Estate as a library and public meeting place and in 1938 his son, Henry Leigh Groves, funded the purchase of the bed of lake Windermere for the benefit of the local community.

Henry Leigh Groves greatest act of generosity was during World War II when he bequeathed the Holehird Estate to the Westmorland County Council ‘for the educational and social welfare of the public of Westmorland’.

Restoration plans

Kittiwake will undergo the stripping process as to remove the paint and varnish from the hull and strip out the interior lining. Some investigation is required into the stem of the vessel to assess the potential damage to the hull caused by water ingress; the oak stem will then be replaced. Kittiwake was converted to petrol in 1944 but was then returned to steam by the museum in 1984. Her original Sissons engine is currently on loan to the museum and will be reinstated in the vessel which will then be operated on the lake.


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