Mystery of historic ship’s fiery fate finally solved by Mail readers

Duke of York on the Thames.
Duke of York on the Thames.
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The mystery surrounding the final resting place of a Victorian pleasure steamer has finally been solved - thanks to Mail readers.

Derek Hinds launched an appeal in May to find out the fate of Duke of York, which was last seen on the site of the Old West Quay pub several years ago.

Duke in Hartlepool 1992.

Duke in Hartlepool 1992.

“She was among several boats lifted onto the Ballast Quay in the 1990s. She sat there for years and I wanted to know what happened to her,” said Derek.

“Sadly, it appears that she was smashed up and burned on the quayside. Apparently plans were discussed to restore her at one point, but she was just too far gone.”

The Duke of York was built by Edward Finn of Isleworth in 1894 and designed to carry up to 120 passengers on trips along the Thames.

She was then sold to Joseph Mears in 1914, who ran a large fleet of steamboats and used her on the river until 1941 - when she sank at the height of the wartime blitz.

“Duke wasn’t needed for the war effort and only raised after the conflict ended. She was then sold on to the Cattell family, who took her to Chersey Meads,” said Derek.

“In 1946 she was moved to Laleham Reach - where she was used as a houseboat until 1982. After that, she was sold to unknown owners at Kingston, who took her to Windsor.”

The Duke was sold on again soon after, to a Mr Hole, who had her towed out of the Thames and up the North Sea coast to Hartlepool, where she was lifted out of the water around 1992.

Attempts were then made to restore her, but the owner was thought to have “lost heart” when the project proved much more difficult than expected.

“Burning her seems like a sad end for a historic vessel like the Duke,” said Derek.