Archangel – an Edwardian gentleman’s launch
A Norfolk gentleman's saloon launch
Herbert Bunn was building boats in Norfolk in the early part of the twentieth century. Archangel is built of teak and redwood on oak with lovely cabinetry on board. She is most unusual in comparison with Thames launches built in the nineteen twenties or even the early Windermere lake launches in that she has a large aft cockpit, large enough to dine with 8 guests. I am assuming this was to keep the ladies and gentlemen out of the wind and out of earshot of the chauffeur.
Archangel was built at Hoveton in Norfolk by Herbert Bunn who was a renowned builder of racing yachts and father to Graham, also an excellent boatbuilder. Bunn built the steam launch Sabrina and one sees certain similarities in the lines.
She was constructed of Archangel redwood over oak with a teak superstructure and commissioned by Sir Robert Price PM, an Edwardian property owner on Wroxham Broad. A decade later she was in the hands of a Mr Billy Smith who used her as a trip boat operating from the Horseshoes pub nearby. When Broads Tours was established in 1935 Mr Smith became a director and Archangel was one of the original fleet. At that time all of the Broads Tours fleet were named after princesses and thus Archangel became Princess Margaret. This is the name we see on the photo taken with HRH Prince Phillip on board.
During WWII she was laid up but post war she resumed service with the company as a passenger boat with a licence to carry 22 passengers and it was at this time that the aft canopy was fitted.
In 1971 she was altered again with the aft cabin being extended and the forward cabin being mainly taken up with steam machinery.
In 1975 she was fitted out as a “Royal Barge” for a visit by the Queen and Prince Phillip to Norwich. The steam plant is just visible in the photograph.
She finally came to the Thames in 2002 where she has been every since. Now fitted out as a luxurious day boat with three separate areas for entertaining and a reliable Beta diesel engine.
A flushing loo has been installed in the starboard compartment with a holding tank and the sofa pulls out to create a double bed for occasional overnighting.
Under the current owner the boat has benefitted from a full refurbishment and is now presented in A1 condition afloat for viewing. She featured at the Thames Traditional Boat Rally and Festival in mid July 2015 in Henley on Thames.