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Historic 'Steamer' Joins Lord Birkett Celebrations

ONE of Ullswater Steamers’ most popular craft, MV Raven, is to join in with Ullswater Yacht Club to celebrate the prestigious Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy.

This year sees the 50th running of the famous race and the event is already attracting competitors from all over the United Kingdom.

On Saturday 7th July, Raven will join over 200 yachts on Ullswater.  Passengers will be able to watch at close hand the start of the race, due at 1pm. Raven will steam ahead of the fleet and station off Kailpot Crag where a memorial plaque to Lord Norman Birkett is sited.

The 50th boat to pass between the shore and Raven will receive a rousing salute and will be awarded a special trophy, kindly donated by Ullswater Steamers.  Raven will then sail amongst the fleet and return to Pooley Bridge at 3.30pm.  If you wish to be a part of the celebrations on Raven and purchase a ticket, please see the Ullswater Steamers website.

Commodore of Ullswater Yacht Club John Spivey, of Watermillock, said: “All the steamers on Ullswater have become a familiar sight to members of UYC and we are extremely pleased that Raven can join in the celebrations in this unique way.”

 John said: “Not only are we delighted that Raven is joining us but the event will also be attended by the Hon Tom Birkett, grandson of Lord Birkett, again this is a first for the Club”.

In 1962 Lord Norman Birkett’s speech helped defeat the Parliamentary Bill against the Manchester Water Authority in the House of Lords.  He passed away shortly afterwards, some say the happiest he had ever been.  On the western side of Ullswater above Glencoyne Head, a nameless fell was re-named in his memory.  There is also a memorial plaque on Kailpot Crag visible only from a boat.

And, of course, Ullswater Yacht Club holds the two-day Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy Race every year in his honour. Competitors race the full length of the lake, more than seven miles, round an island at Glenridding, and back on both days.

Jim Walker, Chief Executive of Ullswater Steamers said: “The Directors of Ullswater Steamers are delighted to work closely with the Ullswater Yacht Club to raise the profile and enhance the enjoyment of this important event.

“Lord Birkett served in Parliament at the same time as Lord Wakefield who had earlier saved the ‘steamers’ from certain extinction. It is therefore fitting that we continue to celebrate the success of both these individuals in maintaining popular access to this beautiful lake for future generations.”


Raven is one of five craft belonging to Ullswater Steamers and all have become a familiar sight to members of Ullswater Yacht Club.

Raven was launched on 16th July 1889; she was named after Ravencrag, the home of Company Director W.H Parkin.  On the day of her launch, the local paper Cumbria and Westmorland Herald said: “It is questionable if there be any boat to beat, or even equal, this little craft on any lake in the country”.

Wilfred Parkin, aged six, broke a bottle of champagne across Raven’s bows.  In sailing folklore they say the younger the person that names a vessel, the longer she will live, Raven is over 120 years old.

One of the shareholders in the Steamer Company, Mr Thomas Cook, was behind the launch of a second steamer on Ullswater.  He voiced his concerns that when Lady of the Lake broke down at the height of the season, a second vessel would have alleviated the problem.

In 1912 Raven became a temporary Royal Yacht when the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II visited the Ullswater area.  During his stay he visited Lowther Castle, home of Lord Lonsdale. In 1934 Raven was converted from steam to diesel.  She cruises at 12 mph or 10 knots.

For more about the Birkett and Ullswater Yacht Club visit

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