As Ullswater ‘Steamers’ flagship vessel MY Lady of the Lake celebrates her 146th birthday today, she has been officially awarded the prestigious National Historic Ships UK Flagship Award 2023.
Launched on 26 June 1877, Lady of the Lake has spent her entire working life on Ullswater and is thought to be the oldest working passenger vessel in the world.
National Historic Ships UK is the official, independent body that advises the UK government and others on issues relating to historic ships. Each year it makes special awards to vessels which have demonstrated diverse public engagement and marketing activities to celebrate the value of historic vessels to the public.
In a double celebration, a special presentation has taken place to mark Lady of the Lake’s new status as Operational Flagship of the Year 2023.
The award was presented to Ullswater Steamers by Stephen Beresford, Senior Conservation Boatbuilder at Windermere Jetty Museum, which is a regional Shipshape Hub for National Historic Ships UK.
Peter Hensman, Chairman of Lake District Estates, which owns Ullswater ‘Steamers’, said: “What a special moment for Lady of the Lake! Not only does this historic vessel have immense national importance, but it also has a special place in many people’s hearts.
“As she celebrates another landmark birthday, it really does give us all an immense sense of pride that she continues to create such positive, memorable experiences for people almost 150 years on and we are delighted with the recognition that National Historic Ships have given her with Operational Flagship status.”
Stephen Beresford at Shipshape Hub North Windermere Jetty Museum added: “This is a tremendous achievement for Ullswater ‘Steamers’ who not only keep this magnificent fleet of heritage boats on the water, but are creating memorable experiences that connect their passengers to the landscape and culture of the area.”
The presentation was also attended by David Little (CEO, Lake District Estates), James Clarkson Webb (Director, Lake District Estates), Callum Smith (General Manager, Ullswater ‘Steamers’) and Christian Grammer (Senior Skipper, Ullswater ‘Steamers’)
The name ‘Lady of the Lake’ originates from the legend of King Arthur and its mythical association with Ullswater.
She was originally built as a steam vessel at Rutherglen near Glasgow, then transported in three sections by rail to Penrith and onto Ullswater by horse. The vessel converted to diesel power in 1936 and in the 21st century and has survived two sinkings and a fire in her lifetime. Lady of the Lake continues to carry thousands of passengers around the lake every year.
The new Operational Flagship status means Lady of the Lake can now sail with an official Flagship pennant flying on her masthead and will also be highlighted by National Historic Ships UK at a virtual awards ceremony in November.
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Ullswater ‘Steamers’ is a family-owned business that has been operating in the tranquil Ullswater Valley since 1859. Today, the company provides a sustainable and environmentally friendly way of linking some of the most iconic walking routes and views in the Lake District National Park. Ullswater ‘Steamers’ has one of the largest heritage passenger vessel fleets in England, including the oldest working passenger vessel in the world, Lady of the Lake.
National Historic Ships UK is a government funded, independent organisation which gives objective advice to UK governments and local authorities, funding bodies, and the historic ships sector on all matters relating to historic vessels in the UK. National Historic Ships UK is partnered with eight organisations across the UK to act as Shipshape Hubs for their region. Hubs are Shipshape ambassadors that aim to bring organisations and individual vessel projects together, host activities and assist the sector to achieve more in the local area. In direct association with NHS–UK, the Hub carries out Network-related projects, supports the sector and helps attract funds, giving advice to Network members. Windermere Jetty Museum is the Shipshape Hub North.