Motor launches

The first motor launch was placed on the lake in April 1915 despite opposition from anglers. The Chief Officer, William Pettigrew, had reported in March 1914 that "the Boat Proprietor was desirous of placing a Motor Launch on the Lake, and plying same for hire.[1] Representatives of the Glamorgan Anglers’ Club argued that a motor launch would be detrimental to fishing, but the Parks Committee approved the proposal, and in April 1915 Andrew Pettigrew, as Chief Officer, reported to the Committee: “Your Boating Contractor has now placed the Motor Launch on the Lake, as agreed last year. This appears to fulfil a long-felt want at Roath Park Lake, and is certain to prove most popular with both adults and youngsters."[2]

By 1920 boating in general was so popular that the Council decided it should purchase the boats from the contractor and run the operation itself. This took effect from May that year.[3] The hire charge for the motor launch - once up and down the lake - was set at 3d for adults and 2d for children under 15.[4]

Britannia I

Britannia Ⅰ from an undated postcard

In October 1928 the Western Mail reported on a new launch: "Messrs Thomas Diamond and Co. (Limited) are building a motor-launch for the Cardiff City Corporation for use on Roath Park Lake. It will carry 38 passengers and will be ready for use by Easter next."[5] By 1939 there were two motor boats - Britannia Ⅰ and Britannia Ⅱ - and trips up and down the lake were reported to be highly popular. The charge was still 3d.[6]

Britannia Ⅱ near the boat stage from a postcard c.1953

Britannia Ⅱ near the boat stage from a postcard c.1953
Reproduced by kind permission, copyright Tempest Photography

The Parks Committee agreed to purchase a new motor launch in late 1954.[7] This required an alteration to the landing stage - construction of a small dock to enable the motor launch to be brought ashore - which was approved in January 1955.[8] This launch was Britannia Ⅲ, diesel powered, and it remained in service until the mid 1980s, when it was replaced by the electric powered Roath's Pride. The dock was set vertically into the landing stage, meaning that the launch entered forwards and reversed out.

Roath's Pride, the purchase of which was approved in October 1986, was built by Bossoms of Oxford at a cost of approximately £20,000 and was equipped with twelve lead acid batteries, for which a charging point was installed at the boatstage.[9][10] By this time the charges per trip in the launch were 40 pence for adults and 20 pence for children.[11] Operation of Roath's Pride required a qualfied captain. Originally 24 passengers could be carried, later reduced to 12 to comply with regulations for commercial boat operation.[12]

The enclosure for Roath's Pride seen in the photograph below was created during the renovation of the boatstage which was completed in late 1990.[13] The orientation of the original dock for Britannia Ⅲ had to be changed, as Roath's Pride was unable to reverse, so the new enclosure was parallel to the landing stage with gates at each end.

Unfortunately Roath's Pride is no longer in service; it was taken out of service in 2013 following an inspection by marine surveyors.[14]

The Roath's Pride boathouse,1994

The Roath's Pride boathouse,1994
©Cardiff Parks Department collection

Roath's Pride on the Lake

Roath's Pride on the lake
©Cardiff Parks Department collection

Roath's Pride on the lake for the opening of the boatstage 1991

Roath's Pride on the lake for the opening of the boatstage 1991
Les Davies, Director of Sports and Leisure Services, on the left
Mayor, Jeffrey Sainsbury, on the right
©Cardiff Parks Department collection

Sources of Information

  1. Meeting of the Parks, Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 5th March 1914
  2. Meeting of the Parks, Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 8th April 1914
  3. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 18th May 1920
  4. Meeting of the Parks (Boating) Sub Committee 1st March 1920
  5. Motor-Launch for Roath Park Lake, Western Mail Saturday 27th October 1928 page 7
  6. Viking adventure at Sixpence an Hour. Maritime Law on Roath Park Lake by Gilbert Norwood, Western Mail South Wales News, Friday, August 4 1939 page 8
  7. Meetings of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 11th November 1954 & 16th December 1954
  8. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 13th January 1955
  9. Personal communication (TD)
  10. Meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee 27th October 1986
  11. Meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee 24th November 1986
  12. Personal communication (TD)
  13. Meetings of the Leisure and Amenities Committee 3rd September 1990 & 3rd January 1991
  14. WalesOnline 12th July 2017