Some History about Sam Saunders and Consuta

From The Consuta Trust archives       Return to Home page

S.E. Saunders

Sam Saunders and his wife

Samuel Edgar Saunders was born in Streatley and started his own boat building business in Goring, but soon moving to the Springfield Works at South Stoke a small riverside hamlet just above Cleeve Lock. In 1896 he was commission by H.S. Clutton who live at Cleeve Mill to build an umpire launch for the Henley Royal Regatta, the requirement was that the launch should have much less wash than existing umpire boats which was causing problems.

Consuta was built using a novel monocoque multi veneer construction technique for the hull, the method was patented in 1898, and became known as "Consuta Plywood". This plywood was instrumental in turning S.E. Saunders into a world renowned company.
The company merged with A.V. Roe in 1929 to become Saunders Roe.


Raymond Wheeler Raymond Wheeler

Books about S.E. Saunders

Raymond Wheeler has edited and published two excellent books about S.E. Saunders; the first is titled "From River to Sea" and the second "From Sea to Air". Although now out  of print, copies of these can still be obtained from various booksellers.

River to Sea     ISBN 0-9509739-3-9

Sea to Air        ISBN 1-873295-05-7


Saunders 1904 catalogue

Saunders 1904 Catalogue

Sam Saunders published a catalogue in 1904 shortly after opening his Saunders Syndicate works on the Isle of Wight.

This 20 page catalogue can be downloaded in PDF format (1.7Mb), just click on the thumbnail. Opens in new page.

Fight nagazine 1919

Flight Magazine 1919

The Flight magazine of 1919 published an interesting article about S.E. Saunders following the award of an OBE for his work helping build anti submarine aeroplanes during the 1st world war.

Click on thumbnail to see this in PDF format. Opens in new page.



Richard Goddard's Henley Umpire Launches

The Umpire's Launch at Henley Royal Regatta

This excellent historical review publication was researched and produced
by Richard Goddard in 1997.

The book covers the whole history of umpiring the Henley Regatta boat races from 1837 to present day. Steam launches were used from about 1870 and Consuta was built in 1898
to have less wash than the earlier umpire launches.

Click on thumbnail to download 31 pages in pdf format (2.2Mb). Opens in new page.


Vintage Photos of the Steam Umpire Launch Consuta pre 1920

Mr Clutton on Consuta


The Trust have gathered many photos of Consuta taken during her steam years,
click on the thumbnail to see this photo album selection.

There are 18 old pictures in this album.

Consuta's engine

The Steam plant was removed from Consuta at Tom Taylor's yard by James Taylor in 1923.
A Wolesley six cylinder petrol engine was fitted, this was later to be replaced by a six cylinder Gray Marine petrol engine which remained in service until 1971.

The Trust still have the Gray marine engine

Click on thumbnail for larger picture of the engine and personal recollections about the removal of Consuta's engine plus photos of two other DesVignes umpire launch steam engines.



from 1949 Mechanics magazine Raymond Baxter and John Snagge

Photos of Consuta being used by the BBC for a live TV broadcast of the whole course 4 mile plus course of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race in 1949. This was the first live full coverage of an Outside Broadcast sporting event. Picture on the right is from the Practical Mechanics Magazine.

Race commentators were Raymond Baxter and John Snagge.

Click on thumbnail for an explanation report with pictures of the first TV OB from Consuta  in 1949 plus amusing stories on John Snagge's commentary.


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