Merlin's magic days on The Mere

This steam boat pictured on The Mere at Ellesmere years ago turns out to have been called Merlin – so perhaps it's fitting that it seems to have magically disappeared.

Merlin casts its spell with a trip on The Mere
Merlin casts its spell with a trip on The Mere

After we published the photo the other day Steve and Rosemary Milns, from Cockshutt, who are formerly area representatives for the Steam Boat Association of Great Britain, emailed in with some extra information.

They told us: "Your Picture From The Archive on January 4 showed a trip boat on Ellesmere Mere.

"You asked whether the funnel was indicative of an engine, or just for show.

"It is indeed a steam boat, an open passenger launch named Merlin, built in London for tripping on Regent's Canal 1982-3, later acquired for tripping on Ellesmere some time post-1984.

"Our own steam boat Elfin is one of the few ‘powered boats’ that have been allowed on The Mere – even once acting as umpire’s launch at the regatta many years ago when the official boat’s engine refused to work!

"The owner at the time Merlin was on Ellesmere was apparently named Lawson Fage – and no, that’s not a typo. We understand that she then went to Wigan as a trip boat on canals – we don’t know exactly when, whether with the same owner or sold on, or where she is now.

"Some years ago another boat, Lady Katherine, was converted to steam to become a similar trip boat on The Mere. Unfortunately the conversion work was very poor and she only lasted a few years.

"We suspect the strong determination to protect local birds and other wildlife from human disturbance will prevent future ventures."

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