Working Memories.

A Memory of Bedford

I was the main weekday driver of the launch photographed during the student holiday periods of 1955-1958.  When I drove it, the name was 'Silver Stream'.  It was the largest of a set of three electric launches which carried paying passengers for trips of about 40 minutes duration from the steps on the downstream, north side of the town bridge.  Typically this launch would carry about 40 passengers maximum.  Silver Stream was a magnificent launch to drive, giving a silent drive, almost no water disturbance up to the 6 knots maximum for the river, and had a tubular rudder form which surrounded the propeller.  This permitted a very tight turning such that most of us could turn round in places where the river was reduced in width to one and a half times the launches length.  The two sister launches were smaller.  Silver Spray was a shorter less sleek version of Silver Stream and had a single section canopy (possibly in the background of this photo coming downstream).  It would seat around 30 people.  Silver Foam was a conventional shaped craft with square bow and stern and seating about 15-18 passengers.  During the 50s these launches were owned and operated by a Mr Smith from his home on the riverside near Cardington.  The premises are now somewhat extended and known as The Barns Hotel.  The barn which I believe is now the present hotel's restaurant, was the winter quarters of this fleet for servicing etc.  I was told that Silver Stream and I think Silver Spray started in the pleasure market in late Edwardian times.  Silver Foam having a less elegant profile was probably added later.

A memory shared by Claire Allen , on Apr 6th, 2006.

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