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.” 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."
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. 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.
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." 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.
The Parks Committee agreed to purchase a new motor launch in late 1954. 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. 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. By this time the charges per trip in the launch were 40 pence for adults and 20 pence for children. 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.
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. 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. Since that that date it has remained in the boathouse.
Sources of Information