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French Brothers
 
 
This Simplon Postcards page is one of a series devoted to River Thames excursion boats - it is not connected with the boat operator. This page shows the excursion vessels of French Brothers of Windsor. Contact www.frenchbrothers.co.uk for details of the sailings and charters of boats on this page. There is a list of boats on this page, plus a table of individual boat pages.
 
Contact: www.frenchbrothers.co.uk
 
 
French Brothers History
French Brothers was established in 1978, and is still a family-owned business. Services in 2005 consist of short and long cruises from Windsor, Maidenhead and Runnymede. From Windsor there are 35 minute and 2 hour cruises upstream, plus shuttle services to Windsor Races. From Runnymede there are 45 minute cruises on the attractive replica paddle vessel Lucy Fisher. From Maidenhead there are 35 minute cruises passing Bray. In addition to these short cruises, longer return trips operate between Maidenhead & Windsor, Windsor & Runnymede, and between Runnymede & Hampton Court. French Brothers also operate the beautifully restored steam launches Nuneham and Streatley on special trips, charters etc. See the official website for details of timings and periods of operation:- www.frenchbrothers.co.uk
 
French Brothers initial base was at Runnymede, and the new Lady Margaret Anne (150 passengers) was delivered in 1980, for use on Runnymede to Hampton Court services, and is still in the 2005 fleet. Also in the fleet was the Princess Mary, which was sold in 1984. The Nuneham was bought in 1981, and was eventually restored to steam with the refurbished engines from Salter Brothers' Oxford (2). In 1982 French Brothers acquired the New Princess of Wales (56 passengers - built 1978, sold again 1990) and the Hurley. Hurley (96 passengers) had originally been built as the Caucase in 1914, but was burnt out. She was rebuilt by Salter Brothers in 1923 and used but them as the Hurley between 1924-1931, when she was sold off the Thames as the Phoenix. French Brothers renamed her Hurley again, and kept her until 1990 when she was sold to Parr Boats of Kingston, where she survives. The next acquisition was the replica African paddle steamer Lucy Fisher (56 passengers), built in 1982 for the film Greystoke.
 
The fleet in 1984 consisted of Hurley, Lady Margaret Anne, Lucy Fisher, New Princess of Wales and Nuneham (out of service). In 1985, another new vessel, The New Queen of the Thames (200 passengers) was delivered. 1987 lists show the arrival of Stephanie Elizabeth, but out of service. In 2005 she lies ashore next to the Runnymede boathouse, but does not appear to have ever entered service with French Brothers. Her stern is just visible on the left of the picture below.
 
 
In 1988, the Gaiety was acquired from Evesham. Gaiety was built as the Oxford (1) for Salter Brothers by Edwin Clarke and Company of Brimscombe in 1889. She was sold to J.T.Phelps of Putney in 1921 when replaced by the larger Oxford (2). She was renamed Gaiety. Ownership became Bowers & Phelps from 1927-28, and she later served at Evesham on the River Avon. Gaiety remains in the 2005 fleet, but is out of service at Windsor.
 
 
Arthur Jacobs/Windsor Boats (to French Brothers in 1990)
In 1990/1991, the working French Brothers fleet more than doubled in size when the six vessels and services of Windsor Boats were acquired, all of which remain in service in 2005:- Windsor Majesty, Windsor Monarch, Windsor Regent, Windsor Royal, Windsor Sceptre and Windsor Sovereign. These boats were built between 1971-1981 and carried between 100 and 130 passengers. New Princess of Wales and Hurley were sold around this time.
 
Windsor Boats had a long history dating back to 1884, when Arthur Jacobs began hiring out manned skiffs at Windsor. His first steam launch was the Woodland Lily, bought from builders Burgoyne in 1890. She remained in the fleet until 1951. In 1900, Arthur Jacobs built his first steam launch, the Windsor Belle, which lasted until 1977. He ran a service from Windsor to Maidenhead (a section also covered by Salter Brothers). The Empress of India was acquired in 1921, since traffic was increasing. She had been built by Bonds of Maidenhead for their own services, She served with Arthur Jacobs between 1922-1930, and was then sold to Picking & Cleves of Windsor. Between 1952-1976 Empress of India reverted to Jacobs ownership, and then served with Turk's Launches until around 1998. Windsor Belle and Empress of India were joined by The New Windsor Castle in 1923, again built by Jacobs himself. Arthur Jacobs died in 1927, and the business was carried on by his brothers and son-in-law, David Picking. In 1943, the business was turned into a the limited company Arthur Jacobs (Windsor) Ltd. In 1948, the first of a series of boats named Windsor I, II etc entered service. These were 36 foot boats carrying 65/70 passengers on local trips from Windsor to Boveney Lock. In 1952, the company put Windsor Three, Four and V into service. The Windsor, acquired 1960, was previously a lifeboat on the Queen Mary. Windsor Five, Windsor Six and Windsor One arrived between 1966 and 1970. Windsor Four was renamed Windsor Two in 1974. Subsequent new vessels dropped the numeric names, and Windsor One became Windsor Crown.
 
A series of modern boats designed by David Picking were built for Arthur Jacobs throughout the 1970s, plus others were acquired:- Windsor Lady (1969, built 1939 as Lady Celia), Windsor Royal (new 1971), Windsor Regent (new 1973), Windsor Sceptre (1) (new 1973), Windsor Consort (1975), Windsor Crown (ex-Windsor One in 1975), Windsor Sovereign (new 1976), Windsor Jester (new 1977), Windsor Jubilee (new 1977), Windsor Sceptre (2) (1977), Windsor Monarch (new 1978) and Windsor Sceptre (3) (new 1980). In 1978, the company had been renamed Windsor Boats, and the fleet consisted only of modern cruisers by this time. Windsor Lady was sold in 1976, Windsor Sceptre (1) in 1978, Windsor Sceptre (2) in 1979, Windsor Crown in 1981, and Windsor Consort in 1984. The six remaining boats passed to French Brothers in 1991, as described above.
 
 
Bray Boats (to French Brothers in 2001)
Bray Boats had been operating a private hire business from Maidenhead, when they acquired the Windsor Sceptre (1) from Windsor Boats in 1978, and renamed her Bray Princess. In 1987 they acquired Windsor Jubilee and renamed her Bray Royale. They rejoined their sisters from the Windsor Boats fleet in 2001, when Bray Boats also became part of French Brothers.
 
 
 
Ships on this Page:-
Bray Princess - French Brothers: 2001- (built: 1974, ex-Windsor Sceptre (1) - in the 2005 fleet)
Bray Royale - French Brothers: 2001- (built: 1977, ex-Windsor Jubilee - in the 2005 fleet)
Gaiety - French Brothers: (built: 1889 - in the 2005 fleet)
Hurley - French Brothers: 1982-1990
Lady Margaret Anne - French Brothers: 1980- (in the 2005 fleet)
Lucy Fisher - French Brothers: (built: 1982 - in the 2005 fleet)
Nuneham - French Brothers: 1981- (built: 1898 - in the 2005 fleet)
New Princess of Wales - French Brothers: 1982-1984
The New Queen of the Thames - French Brothers: 1985- (in the 2005 fleet)
Stephanie Elizabeth - (out of service)
Streatley - French Brothers: 1905-  (built: 1898 - in the 2013 fleet)
Windsor Majesty - French Brothers: 1991- (built: 1981 - in the 2005 fleet)
Windsor Monarch - French Brothers: 1991- (built: 1978 - in the 2005 fleet)
Windsor Regent - French Brothers: 1991- (built: 1973 - in the 2005 fleet)
Windsor Royal - French Brothers: 1991- (built: 1971 - in the 2005 fleet)
Windsor Sceptre (3) - French Brothers: 1991- (built: 1979 - in the 2005 fleet)
Windsor Sovereign - French Brothers: 1991- (built: 1976 - in the 2005 fleet)
 
Thames Passenger Boat Pages:-
River Thames Header Page - other operators
Catamaran Cruisers
City Cruises
Crown River Cruises
French Brothers  - this page!
Thames Clippers
Thames Launches
Thames Leisure Cruises
Thames Steamers
Joseph Mears
Salter Brothers
Thames Launches
Thames Leisure Cruises
Westminster Party Boats
 
Thames Passenger Boat Cruise Pages:-
River Thames - Harwich-Southend-Tilbury-Tower Pier Cruise
River Thames - Runneymede Circular Cruise
River Thames - Windsor-Maidenhead Cruise
River Thames - Maidenhead-Marlow Cruise
River Thames - Marlow-Henley Cruise
River Thames - Henley-Reading Cruise
 
Associated Pages:-
www.frenchbrothers.co.uk - French Brothers Official Website
Ferry Postcards
Cruise Ship Postcards
Ocean Liner Postcards
Simplon Postcards Home Page
 
References:-
Royal River Highway by Frank L.Dix (David & Charles, 1985)
Trip Out Guides - Various Editions 1985-2013 by Geoffrey Hamer (PO Box 485, Southall UB1 9BH)
Trip Out Guides are available from Geoffrey Hamer, PO Box 485, Southall, UB1 9BH

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Table of Individual Boat Pages
Name
Other names
 Built
 Lucy Fisher  
 1962
 Nuneham  
 1898







French Brothers Fleet List
 
 
River Queen (E.Cawston: 1896-1930)
The Original River Queen (E.Cawston: 1930-1945)
The Original River Queen (Salter Brothers: 1945-1969)
The Original River Queen (French Brothers: 1973-19?? - not used)
 
River Queen was acquired by Salter Brothers in 1945 from E.Cawston of Reading, who were also her builders in 1896. She was 60ft long. She was renamed The Original River Queen when registered in 1930, but "The Original" was rendered so small as to be invisible in this card. Salter's dieselised her soon after purchase. She ended service with Salter's around 1969, and was bought by Keith French. He eventually came to the conclusion that she was too far gone to be restored and he sold her.
 
 
Official Salter Brothers postcard of River Queen
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The Original River Queen in 1983 at Old Windsor (French Brother's yard?)
Photo: 1983 Greg Beeke

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ORIGINAL RIVER QUEEN - Photo: 1983 Greg Beeke







Bray Princess
(built: 1974 - French Brothers: 2001- )
 
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Runnymede, 24th April 2005.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Runnymede, 24th April 2005.







Bray Royale
(built: 1977 - French Brothers: 2001- )
 
Bray Royale is in the 2005 fleet. She is described as one of French Brothers "Premier Vessels" (along with Nuneham) and she has a distinctive colour scheme and is fitted out for special charters, parties etc.
 
 
Bray Royale on a charter.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor-Maidenhead, 22nd May 2004.



Bray Royale on a charter.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor-Maidenhead, 22nd May 2004.



Bray Royale on a charter.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor-Maidenhead, 22nd May 2004.







Gaiety
(French Brothers: 1989- )
 
Gaiety was built as the Oxford (1) for Salter Brothers by Edwin Clarke and Company of Brimscombe in 1889. She was sold to J.T.Phelps of Putney in 1921 when replaced by the larger Oxford (2). She was renamed Gaiety. Ownership became Bowers & Phelps from 1927-28, and she later served at Evesham on the River Avon. Gaiety is in the 2004 fleet, but is out of service at Windsor.
 
 
Dennis postcard of Gaiety at Evesham.



Gaiety out of service at Windsor.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.







Lady Margaret Anne
(French Brothers: 1980- )
 
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Runnymede, 24th April 2005.







Lucy Fisher
(built: 1982 - French Brothers: 1983- )
 
The steam-outline Lucy Fisher was built in 1982 as a replica Victorian paddle steamer as used on African Rivers. Her purpose was to appear in the Hollywood movie Greystoke, and she was taken out to Cameroon for this purpose. After completion of filing, she was shipped back to the UK, and is now owned by French Brothers. She runs regular short trips from Runnymede. She is diesel-powered, and the boiler and paddlewheel are replicas only.
 
Additional images of Lucy Fisher
 
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Runnymede, 24th April 2005.
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Runnymede, 24th April 2005.
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Runnymede, 24th April 2005.
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Runnymede, 24th April 2005.
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Runnymede, 24th April 2005.







Nuneham
(French Brothers: 1981- )
 
The steam launch Nuneham was built for Salter Brothers of Oxford by Edwin Clarke and Company of Brimscombe in 1898. For nearly seventy years, Nuneham plied the Thames for Salter Brothers between Oxford and Kingston, being converted to diesel propulsion in 1948. Operating on the Thames tideway, she ran trips between Westminster and Hampton Court from 1971 for Jackson Brothers and Harbourside Investments until she was brought back upriver by French Brothers in 1983. She has been fitted with a refurbished Sissons triple expansion steam engine from the Oxford (2), which is of the same design as her original, and a brand new scotch boiler. Nuneham has been entirely reconstructed by expert craftsmen to an exquisite standard, and now operates private charters for the Thames Steam Packet Boat Company (part of French Brothers).
 
Additional images of Nuneham
 
 
Photo Precision (Colourmaster) postcard PT10219 of Nuneham at Henley-on-Thames in Salter Brothers service.
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Nuneham in service with French Brothers, having reverted to steam propulsion.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.
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Photo: © Ian Boyle, Runnymede, 24th April 2005.







The New Queen of the Thames
(French Brothers: 1985- )
 
The New Queen of the Thames is is the 2004 fleet.
 
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Maidenhead, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Runnymede, 24th April 2005.







Streatley
(French Brothers: 201?-  )

Streatley was built by Salter Brothers for their own use in 1905. She is 85 fete long She was converted to diesel in 1959. Streatley spent some time laid up until sale around 1996. She was based in Marlow and marketed as 'Steamship Streatley'. Streatley then operated for Great River Journeys (of Wallingford), who acquired her in 2005. Great River Journeys subsequently ceased trading and ownership of Streatley changed. She was then laid up but thankfully later acquired and refitted by French Brothers.


Salmon postcard 1-35-07-05/3181c of Streatley at Caversham Lock.



Photograph of Streatley at Sonning.
Photo: © Stephen Humphreys from www.sonning.net
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Streatley at Benson Lock, on a charter for the 'Swan Upping'
Photo: © Derek Powles, 2003
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Streatley at Windsor in 2013
Photos: 2013 Mike Tedstone
Steam Launch STREATLEY - French Brothers - Photos: 2013 Mike Tedstone Steam Launch STREATLEY - French Brothers - Photos: 2013 Mike Tedstone Steam Launch STREATLEY - French Brothers - Photos: 2013 Mike Tedstone







Windsor Monarch
(built: 1978 - French Brothers: 1991- )
 
Windsor Monarch is is the 2004 fleet.
 
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.







Windsor Royal
(built: 1971 - French Brothers: 1991- )
 
Windsor Royal is is the 2004 fleet.
 
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.







Windsor Sceptre (3)
(built: 1980 - French Brothers: 1991- )
 
Windsor Sceptre is is the 2004 fleet.
 
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.







Windsor Sovereign
(built: 1976 - French Brothers: 1991- )
 
Windsor Sovereign is is the 2004 fleet.
 
 
Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.



Photo: © Ian Boyle, Windsor, 22nd May 2004.







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