A scheme to build a Thames Heritage Museum to house three historic steam boats is to go to planning appeal.

The museum is planned for Beale Park near Pangbourne but has repeatedly been turned down by West Berkshire Council planners.

The application is currently open for comments with a deadline of January 31st.

The museum project has been designed to house Consuta (pictured above) the first ever steam umpire’s launch, built by local builder Sam Saunders in 1898. The others are Cygnet (right below), built by Thorneycroft  and  Co  in 1870, the oldest surviving steam launch in the country, and Danola, built for Mr Palmer of Huntley and Palmer biscuits in 1894.

It will also provide exhibits and information on the heritage and development of powered boatbuilding on The Thames.

The museum has been planned to open onto a pond linked to the lake at Beale park and will be screened from all directions by existing trees to ensure minimum impact on the landscape and environment. The building will allow Consuta to be kept afloat, as she has a busy schedule of public appearances and events, but still allow her to be protected from the elements.

The Consuta Trust and its partner Thames Boats Trust have been campaigning for some time to develop a facility which allows the public to enjoy the magnificent craft and learn about the development of boatbuilding on the river.

An outline planning application to West Berkshire District Council last year was blocked by the planning officials despite support from the local Basildon Parish Council, local MP Richard Benyon and nationally important organisations such as National Historic Ships.

The appeal has been launched by the Child Beale Trust, owners of Beale Park, the Consuta Trust and the Thames Boats Trust.

Brian Smith, Chairman of The Consuta Trust, said: "We have support from some fifty or so organisations and groups, many of them local to the site and we need as many people as possible to register their support before the 31st January deadline.”

Comments are invited on the appeal (reference 2208764) either by email at or by post to: Attention of Nicolas Patch, 3/06 Wing, Temple Quay House, 2, The Square, Bristol BS1 6PN.

The appeal hearing is scheduled to take place on April 15th at a location still to be confirmed.

More about the museum with plans and graphics on the Consuta Trust website

More about Cygnet on the Thames Boats Trust website

Pictures: RTN and courtesy Consuta / Thames Boats Trusts

Story dated Jan 5th 2014

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