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The city of York, then named Eboracum, was founded by the Romans in 71AD at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss. The Ouse then continues, joining the Trent before flowing into the Humber Estuary. Eboracum became the capital of the Roman Province of Britannia Inferior. Following the Roman withdrawal in 415AD, York became the capital of Northumbria for the Angles, then known as Eoforwic. The Angles were followed by the Vikings in 866AD, and their name Jorvic evolved into the current title. Jorvic became the capital of a much larger area of Northern England, and remained important in the Norman and later periods. For many years it was the third largest port in England, following London and Bristol. Commercial traffic finally ceased in the 1990s. Excursion and passenger steamers have run on the Ouse from the early days of steamboats and their current successors are run by YorkBoat in 2010.
This page shows some postcards and photos of earlier passenger vessels. Before WW1 there was an interesting steamboat named River King (1) running from York. I am seeking more information on services before the 1970s, and additional images from all periods. Details below covering services since 1970 have been derived from Trip Out Guides and issues of Cruising Monthly (the newsletter of the Coastal Cruising Association).
To travel on YorkBoat services see:- www.yorkboat.co.uk
York Excursion Boats Since 1970
In the 1970s the main operator in York was Hill's Boatyard, who ran the attractive small launches (52-73 passengers) Princess Elizabeth, Princess Katherine, Princess Margaret (1936), Princess Mary (1919) and Princess Royal (1923) from Lendal Bridge and King's Staithe (the same piers as used today by YorkBoat). Cruises either ran to Bishopthorpe or were shorter local circulars. They were joined by the new Duke of York (127 passengers) in 1977. A sister vessel Duchess of York (1) arrived the following year. The Ashanti Gold (1974 - 40 pass) of Ashanti Cruises also ran cruises in York at this time. By 1981 the only surviving older launch in the Hill's fleet was Princess Margaret, but she had been replaced by the Countess of York (1970 -118 pass, previously Abingdon Belle) by 1985. Competition arrived with the White Rose Line who ran the River King (2) (1979 - 100 pass) and River Queen (1983 - 105 pass). They also acquired the Ashanti Gold. In 1988 York Marine Services started using the Duchess (1924) and the Princess Elizabeth (1932). In 1989 a further company Castle Line Cruisers started York trips, using the Empress (1932 - 45 pass). She was soon joined by the Belle (1922 - 40 pass, previously the Duke of Edinburgh).
Ashanti Gold was disposed of by White Rose Line and later worked at Wakefield, the Lancaster Canal and on the Kennet & Avon Navigation. Ashanti Gold was replaced by River Palace (1990 - 218 pass) in the White Rose Line's fleet in 1990. White Rose Line also acquired the vessels and the Lendal Bridge yard of Hill's Boatyard, Duchess of York (1) becoming River Duchess, Countess of York becoming River Countess and Duke of York becoming River Prince (1), forming a combined fleet of six vessels. The Star (1945 - 70 pass, previously Marina II) joined Castle Line for 1993. York Marine Services acquired the new Pride of York (1994 - 190 pass) the following year.
White Rose Line fleet 1993 - River Countess (1970), River Duchess (1978), River King (2) (1979), River Palace (1990), River Prince (1) (1977), River Queen (1983)
For 1997, The Belle and The Star of Castle Line joined a short-lived operator Star Line Cruises. Castle Line acquired the Duchess of York (2) (183 - 85 pass, previously Jonas Fosbrooke). White Rose disposed of River Prince (1) and later acquired the Captain James Cook (1975 - 130 pass) which had been based in Doncaster. York Marine services disposed of their older vessels Princess Elizabeth and Duchess, retained just the recent Pride of York.
White Rose Line fleet 1999 - Captain James Cook (1975), River Countess (1970), River Duchess (1978), River King (2) (1979), River Palace (1990), River Queen (1983)
By 2001 Pride of York had passed to White Rose as Prince William, and White Rose also became known as YorkBoat. YorkBoat vessels River King (2) moved to Shrewsbury in 2001 and River Queen was sold in 2002.
YorkBoat fleet 2001 - Captain James Cook (1975), Prince William (1994) River Countess (1970), River Duchess (1978), River Palace (1990), River Queen (1983)
By 2003, Duchess of York (2) was running for Yorkcruise, later trading as Waterline Cruise & Dine. For 2005, YorkBoat's Prince William had been renamed River Prince (2), and Waterline Cruise & Dine had acquired River King (3) (1981 - 128 pass). The latter company ceased trading in 2008, For 2007, River Countess passed to sister company ChesterBoat as The Jackie.
Boats on this Page
YorkBoat Brochure Archive
2009 Cruise Guide
2009 Groups & Schools
2009 Unique Venues Afloat - Charters
Yorkshire Simplon Pages
Scarborough Excursion Vessels - Page 1: Steam
Scarborough Excursion Vessels - Page 2: Diesel
York Historic River Postcards - this page
Associated Simplon Pages
UK Excursion Vessels
World Ferry Fleets
Simplon Postcards - Home Page
Simplon Postcards - Recent Updates
Trip Out Guides - Written and published by G.P.Hamer - editions from 1977 to 2009
Trip Out Guides are available from Geoffrey Hamer, PO Box 485, Southall, UB1 9BH
Cruising Monthly - www.cruisingmonthly.com