Steam Pinnace 198 forms an integral part of the Royal Naval Museum’s Boat Collection. Built by J. Samuel White & Company, Cowes, in 1911, the role of Steam Pinnace 198 was to service one of the super-dreadnoughts under construction.
It was typical of the numerous fifty foot steam pinnace boats in naval use from the late nineteenth century until the Second World War. Steam Pinnace 198 is the only survivor of its type and of the standard ship’s boats introduced by Lord Fisher in 1908.
In 1916, Steam Pinnace 198 was converted for use as an Admiral’s barge, by the addition of a counter stern. Later the vessel became the duty boat serving Netley Hospital on Southampton Water.
In 1949, the pinnace was bought privately and steamed from Portsmouth to the Thames, where its steam plant was removed. After being neglected, it was bought for restoration by an antique dealer who spent £10,000 on hull repairs. This work was undertaken by Tough’s Boatyard at Teddington,. Work still needed to be undertaken to install the steam machinery. With the assistance of a grant from the Science Museum and three private donors, the vessel was purchased by the Royal Naval Museum in 1980.
The pinnace was transported to Gosport, where the Maritime Workshop, an organisation sponsored by the Maritime Trust, became responsible for its restoration, maintenance and operational manning for public display, on behalf of the Royal Naval Museum
An early boiler from a steam pinnace, and a compound engine from another fifty-foot pinnace were provided by HMS Sultan, and some of the original steam auxiliaries were retrieved from Belgium.
The restoration was almost entirely undertaken by apprentices and Youth Training Scheme (YTS) trainees. The British Shipbuilders Training Centre at Portchester was responsible for a new steel casing for the engine room and boiler, for the overhaul of machinery, and for some of the deck joinery. Volunteer engine apprentices from HMS Sultan and YTS shipwright trainees of the Maritime Workshop fitted the vessel out fore and aft. The Maritime Workshop also coordinated the work and provided the necessary expertise in marine steam plant.
On completion of the steam pinnace’s restoration in 1984, it was used to convey the Flag Officer, Portsmouth and the Queen’s Harbour Master to the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, during Cowes Week, being manned entirely by YTS deck crew and volunteer steam engineers. For other naval occasions, the pinnace was manned by a mixed crew of YTS and HMS Sultan apprentices.
During 2001, Steam Pinnace 198 has undergone further restoration funded by the Friends of the Royal Naval Museum, Hampshire County Council and the Royal Naval Museum.
© Royal Naval Museum Library 2001
The information contained in this fact sheet is correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for a bibliography of further reading materials, if available.