HLF supports The Consuta Project

Project Work progress on Consuta

Please see the Recent news page for much more details of work progress on Consuta.



A visit was arranged to the Portsmouth Historical Dackyard on Saturday 26th November.

Probably not the best time of the year for a visit, but many of the exhibits were under cover and our tickets allowed free return for a whole year. The photo on the left is a view or Warrior and VIC56 from the Boatshed 4 cafe, the one on the right is a view of the boiler room on Warrior. 10 boilers each with four furnaces.

A scene from the last of the project talks at the Liston Hall in Marlow "Boat building on the upper Thames".

Note this photo was taken about 30 minutes before the talk started so more chairs had to be put out.


This photos show the public display we had set up at The Henley Traditional Boat Festival.

We had arranged with the organisers to have the Trust exhibition display showing the work on Consuta.

Cygnet built in 1970 by J.I. Thornycroft was also on display and remains unchanged from when built at Chiswick 140 years ago, Cygnet is No.9 on the Thornycroft ledger.

The new boiler while suspended above the boiler compartment
ready for some minor work on the ash pan.

The weight is totally taken by the chain hoist at this point, just lightly resting on the coal bunker.

The boiler, without backhead fittings, now completely lagged is ready to be installed in Consuta.

The lagging round the barrel and firebox wrapper is 1 inch thick, while on the backhead is 1/2" thick. The lagging is ceramic fibre material held in place by aluminium sheet shaped as required

The new funnel has a slightly smaller outside diameter than perviously, is also complete.

Note only one safety valve is needed, this has been set at 180 psi.

Progress by August 2018

Work is progressing well on the new woodwork for Consuta. Plywood mockups of various parts of the new boiler and engine casings have now been seen and approved by the trustees.

Above - very important for some - checking out a new position for the Windermere kettle.

Consuta's engine is also included on our work schedule, this involves repairing worn components, giving the engine a thorough clean-up and a repaint.

On the left the sparks fly as one of the valve tail rods is re-ground true.

Consuta's new boiler - April 2018

Consuta's Boiler has been collected from Manor Farm Engineering, now trying out some of the fittings on the backhead.

On the left loaded on our covered trailer. doesn't the boiler look low without the ashpan?

Above showing a few of the backhead fittings being offered up to see how they go. The range on the water gauge will be a great improvement on the old boiler.

See below the CAD picture showing boiler with ashpan.

The image above provided by David is a CAD section through the boiler in Consuta. The roomy ashpan with raised sides is intended to stop any ash spills into the bilges and also simplify the ashing out.

The photo on the right shows the wooden mockup of the boiler sitting on a wooden assembly of the boiler mounting and the ashpan.

Also note how much lower the top of new boiler will be compared with the old boiler casing, which is still in place. A measurement indicates a possible 5 to 6 inch reduced boiler casing height potential. The old casing will be removed once Consuta is moved out of the elements when the boat covers can be removed

How to raise steam on Consuta

A 14 minute training video made in 2017 to provide guidance about raising steam on Consuta's coal fired loco boiler plus some additional advice about oiling the engine. The lighting up method shown is suitable for any boiler with a similar grate size; Consuta's is about 5.5 sqft.

Project Work on Consuta

Consuta's new boiler

The photos above show the new boiler after welding. The boiler is presently being kept at Manor Farm Engineering because there is nowhere at Beale Park to keep it under cover at the moment. This does however allow for some further work that needs to be done.

It is a pity but Consuta is having to be kept outside, we are hoping for some good news by mid January about alternative covered accommodation possibilities at the park. This delay unfortunately means that we have already lost five months from the planned refurbishment programme timetable, so it is unlikely that Consuta will be operational in 2018. There will however be plenty of opportunities to come along (in warmer weather) to help with or see all the interesting work that is being done.

Photos of Consuta's bilges

The two photos above show:- on the left the space below the boiler after being cleaned. The photo on the right provides a stark contrast between the before and after cleaning work using a wetvac.

The area under the engine still has to be cleaned so we will need the engine lifted out for this part. All the oily mess was due to two holes in the silencer which allowed that oily water waste from the exhaust to end up in the bilges instead of the ashpan where it would have been burnt off. The bilge paint however after the cleaning looks in remarkably good condition.

Activity News - 2017

The Project Exhibition Unit

The photo on the right shows the project unit closed up for the winter, the large photo of Consuta is on the lift up lid section, looks good doesn't it?

Other news is that we now have a covered trailer suitable for keeping the new boiler secure and dry.

The Trust are now collecting all the new fittings required for the replacement boiler.

We've accrued a wide range of vintage Thames films several of them showing Consuta from the early 1900's. This collection also has a large number of Thames boating and riverside scenes all from the past. So if you visit the exhibition (check the calendar above for when open), please ask if you can see these.

A visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum

Our Consuta Project Activities Coordinator - Jennie - has suggested a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London to see and exhibition named "Plywood: A Material of the Modern World"

Jennie says "I have suggested a visit to the V&A - despite the lack of reference to Consuta Plywood!!!!" If you look at the V&A site it gives some details about the history of plywood but makes no mention of Consuta Plywood. An omission which makes for a good topic of discussion . . . ."

As you know Consuta is uniquely constructed from one of the earliest forms of ply. Sadly, the V&A seems to have overlooked the work of Sam Saunders and his patented Consuta Plywood was an important stage in the development of this versatile material! However, the exhibition should still be worth a visit.

Join Jennie on Saturday 28 October 2017 and please meet in the main entrance at 10.30am. If you are not able to make this date the exhibition is on until 12 November 2017 For more information visit the V&A Museum website

Project News - November 2017

The new boiler in Flat Pack form?

The boiler barrel arrives - rolled and welded tube with various stay and fitting holes

I wonder if there are instructions on how to assemble this flat pack boiler.
Definitely must use a coded welder for the work.

This interesting photo shows most of the bits that are needed to make a boiler. There are some parts that are not shown, the barrel, stays and the tubes aren't here.

The weight of all the bits (some not shown) will be about 0.6 ton before they are welded up.

More soon.

The Consuta Trust have been awarded an HLF grant for

"The Consuta Project"

The trustees are delighted to have been awarded a Lottery Funded grant of £99,500 in March 2017 which will enable the Trust to restore the steam launch Consuta to its original displacement weight, using a much improved loco type boiler fitted with a lower boiler casing as built by Sam Saunders.

We have now established a public exhibition at Beale Park open on specific days as shown on the calendar above. This exhibition will have a variety of activities giving visitors an opportunity to learn more about the developments of steam river launches on the Thames during the 19th century.

Steam launches represent the very first uses of mechanical machinery for moving river craft, and there were amazing developments during the later part of the Victorian age. The Consuta project will:-

  • Undertake a series of works to build and install a more original steam plant together with a range of measures and improvements to the steam management and it's operation.
  • Create an interpretative display near by the launch's current location at Beale Park. The focus for the display will be the story of the historic development of fast steam powered river launches and how marine engineers overcame many of the early design problems.
  • Recruit an Activities Coordinator and Project Assistant for the interpretation display.
  • Provide informal training and skills development for up to twenty people in a range of the related disciplines required for operating, maintaining and conserving this type of launch.

Press Release

Here is a copy of the Press Release


The Trust have appointed two part time staff to work at the project's Beale Park exhibition unit near Pangbourne, RG8 9NW.

If you would like to know more about the project, please contact us by email

The new work on Consuta

Some images from the 3D Cad File

David has now set up a superb 3D CAD file for not only the boiler detail but also Consuta's lines and top works, using 'Onshape', an excellent 3D cad software programme. This software will be used to check out the many detail changes needed to fit the new boiler. Have a look at the the sectioned 3D images below.

The image below shows the difference in height between current adn new superstructure