Salters Steamers, one of the longest established firms on the river, has stopped running scheduled services from Windsor.

But it has expanded in Abingdon where it has taken over an existing hire and chandlery business.

From Victorian times Salters had operated to a timetable on the Windsor section of the Thames. But from this season it will only operate boats for pre-booked parties and groups. Its office in the town has clsoed. Services upstream are not affected.

Director Paul Salter told River Thames News: "Passenger numbers have not justified our former service but our boats are still available for pre-booked groups of 20 or more passengers.

"We will be retaining our mooring near Windsor Castle and look forward to maintaining our presence in the town."

Meanwhile upstream Salters now operate from Abingdon Bridge Marine, by the town's bridge. It has moved the berthing facility for its steamers from nearby Nag's Head Island. It will continue to run the hire business providing self-drive and rowing boats, chandlery and will still provide fuel and other facilities for visiting boats.

Simon Wenham, (pictured above right) author of the definitive history of Salter Brothers Pleasure Boating on the Thames, writes: " The firm's association with Windsor probably stretches back to the 1840s, when the Salter family was producing racing boats for clubs around the country, whilst based in Wandsworth.

"The firm established a more permanent presence in the area in 1870, when the brothers John and Stephen Salter, who had founded their own business in Oxford in 1858, opened a second yard at Eton.

"They were the leading racing boat builders in the 1860s and it made financial sense to be located next to the leading rowing school, although the yard was subsequently closed in 1875, when Stephen left the business (and it is now one of those used by Eton College).

"The firm's passenger boats (or steamers, as they were always known) became one of the most familiar sights on the river in the area, after Salters' started operating an Oxford to Kingston service in 1888, which was subsequently expanded over the years. This also led to the firm acquiring a permanent office in Windsor, which it has had for over a century.

"The firm ran 'circular tours' in conjunction with the railway companies (particularly GWR) and this early form of mass transportation was responsible for bringing thousands of tourists to Windsor every year. The firm played a key part in popularising leisure on the river and, in the interwar period, many people enjoyed a boat outing as part of sightseeing trips that would include visiting Windsor castle and/or London airport (as it was then).

"The Oxford to Kingston service was eventually cut into shorter sections in 1974, when the river was so busy that the steamers were unable to keep to a timetable and there was growing demand for shorter trips. The latter remains the case today and there is no doubt that is one of the contributing factors to the demise of the regular long-distance services from Windsor. "

Link to our earlier story on Simon Wenham's book.

Link to Salters Steamers website

Link to Abingdon Bridge Marine website

Story dated June 22nd 2015