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The Steam Yachts are run with Yorky, a 1901 Savage steam engine


How brave are you?

 

THE EXCELSIOR STEAM YACHTS

This impressive set of steam yachts is one of only two or three surviving examples of a stately ride which was very popular in Britain at the turn of the 20th century. It may appear to be a gentle machine from the Victorian age, but don't let that fool you! The 'yachts' swing under steam power to an almost perpendicular angle, making even the hardest of men shriek.

Built for showman Joe Ling by Savages in 1921, this set of yachts has been through lots of changes in its life. It was arguably the most elaborate and attractive set of yachts that Savages ever made, with intricate carving and decoration, and it travelled extensively with the Ling family before changing hands a number of times in the 50s and 60s. As with many steam-driven machines, the Steam Yachts lost their engine when boiler inspection came in in the 1950s and it was scrapped – faced with the huge expense of having a new boiler manufactured, most showmen chose to convert rides to diesel or electricity. Over the years it also lost a bit of its embellishment, to make building up easier and to fit with contemporary style.

We were very keen to get a working set of yachts, and in the 1970s, the Ling Yachts were put up for sale in a scrapyard in Scotland in a sorry state. The engine was missing, and showman Harry Lee (who was running his own set of steam yachts at the time) generously offered us the old engine from his set in the early 1980s, which he had put into storage a few years before. The 1901 Savage engine, Yorky, from the original Waddington Yachts is still going strong, entertaining families every weekend through the summer. Harry was a very enthusiastic supporter of Carters Steam Fair, and accompanied the restored Yachts on their first season, providing help and teaching the family how to drive them.

The restoration process was expensive and tough, including two new yachts built to the original pattern and new timbers specially imported from Canada, but it was all worth it in the end!

Who can ride, and what does it cost?
You must be over 1.05m tall to ride on the middle (yellow) seats, and over 1.2m to ride on any seat. The ride costs 6 tokens per person to ride. Prices may be subject to change.


Buy tokens in advance online, and get FREE RIDES!

Hire the Steam Yachts
If you are interested in hiring the Steam Yachts, the price starts from around £3000. Please click here for more information. The Steam Yachts take about 8 hours to build up and have a footprint of approximately 48 x 32 feet, and a height of about 29 feet. Please be aware that you will need a good level ground with no overhead obstacles, and clear enough access to get an articulated lorry on to the site (any gate must be minimum of 10 feet wide). It runs on steam so we would need access to water, and is not suitable for indoor venues.

 

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