MV Canfly, 1922

Builder Harry Breaker, Bowness
Length 28'
Beam 5’ 6”
Hull Carvel Mahogany
Engine Rolls Royce Hawk 6 cylinder aero engine, 7.4 litre, 85 bhp at 1350 rpm
Speed 30 mph

Built in 1922 by Harry Breaker, Canfly has a vertical bow and straight stern, finished in varnished mahogany with red below the water line.

Canfly was built specifically to house the engine it is powered by and is fitted with a 1917 Rolls Royce 85 HP Mk1 Hawk Engine, serial no. 332. The engine was originally used in a World War I airship, which was decommisioned after the end of the war.

The engine has been modified from an aero engine by fitting a large flywheel operated via direct drive onto the vessel’s propeller shaft, it is started by hand and has no gearbox.

History and ownership

Canfly was built to the order of E.H. Pattinson, George Pattinson’s uncle. The engine had been acquired in 1922 from the Royal Air Force disposal board for £75.00.

Between 1922 and 1937 Canfly raced regularly on the lake. She was also  the official’s boat during record attempts, including Sir Henry Segrave’s tragic world waterspeed record on Friday 13 June 1930, when she raced to the scene of the accident in time to rescue the only survivor. E.H. Pattinson gave the Rolls Royce Hawk engine to the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club at Broad Leys and in 1960 the hull was sold by the estate of E.H. Pattinson.

With the opening of the Windermere Steamboat Museum the engine was loaned to the Windermere Nautical Trust to enable Canfly to be restored to working order in 1977 by the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust.

Restoration plans

Canfly is dangerous to operate and we cannot be sure of controlling this powerful vessel within the Windermere speed limit. She has to be pointed out into the middle of the lake before starting her. Once she is in action, the power must be cut well before reaching the other side.

Canfly’s Rolls Royce former aero engine is extremely rare and significant and we must not risk damaging it through operational use. She will therefore be conserved for display in the main exhibition space, where her engine can be properly protected and appreciated at close quarters. We will show her in the context of the development of fast vessels and adventurous activity on the lake, including some exciting film footage of her in action. The log book for her Rolls Royce Hawk engine will be on show close by.

Her engine has been recorded and the fuel lines removed. We will need to carry out some minor work on the hull and sand and repaint her bottom.

Lakeland Arts received a grant from the PRISM fund to purchase the original engine from Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club ensuring that the engine and hull remain together on display at the museum.


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