Metric units


Status: Active use

Owner: Bristol Museums and Art Gallery (M-Shed)


Area: UK-South West


Tug. Construction: Riveted iron.
Built 1861 by Stothert & Marten at Bristol
Fit out 1861 at Bristol England
LOA: 65' 0", LWL: 63' 4", Beam: 12' 0", Draft: 7' 2", Displacement: 64000 lbs.
Counter stern.


RT Scotch Built 1930 by W Sisson & Co at Gloucester
Fuel: Coal, Pressure: 100 psi,
Steel barrel. 66 X 3" dia Steel tubes. Steel drum and tubes. construction,
2-furnace Scotch boiler with 66 x 3" tubes installed in 1899 by W Sisson & Co of Gloucester. 14 of the tubes are welded in place as stays and the rest are rolled. The boiler was re-tubed in 2021. Firing from cold is usually done over two days, partly to reduce stress on the boiler and partly because the capacity is 5 tonnes of water.


Compound. 12" + 22" X 16"
Built 1898 by W. Sisson & Co. Ltd. at Gloucester
Piston valve on HP, slide valve on LP valve. Joy Radial valve gear.
Power: 100 HP
Her original single-cylinder engine was replaced in 1899 with a two cylinder compound condensing engine (No.533.) by W Sisson & Co of Gloucester. The condenser is integrated into the main engine frame and supports a bilge pump, condenser raw water pump, vacuum pump and poiler feed pump, all driven from the low pressure cross-head. The engine features metal glands on both the HP and LP piston rods.


0 blades,


The Mayflower is believed to be the oldest working tug in the world and marked her 160th birthday in 2021. 1861 Built on a slip adjacent to Pools Wharf in Bristol harbour ( for Timothy Hadley, a towage contractor to Gloucester & Berkeley Canal Co. Initially she largely towed trains of small vessels such as trows and ketches between Sharpness and Gloucester. 1874 Sharpness New Docks & Gloucester & Birmingham Nav. Co. usually towing larger steamers one at a time. 1890s Modified with higher bulwarks to make her suitable for use on the river Severn, eventually working every part of the river from Worcester to Chepstow. 1948 British Waterways Board. Occupied as a mudding barge towing mud hopper barges filled by the dredging of the sharpness canal to the discharge point. She returned to ship-towing in the winter of 1963-64 when the canal froze and the diesel tugs had difficulty working in the cold. 1964 Withdrawn from service and sold for scrap in 1967. 1967 Consortium led by Anthony H Barrett Great Wyrley purchased Mayflower to conserve her. She was scuttled in Gloucester dock by vandals in the late 70s and was in poor condition when re-floated. 1981 Acquired for preservation, by the Bristol Museum of Technology. Restored 1982-7, first re-steamed Sept 1987. She is now on display at the M-Shed, part of Bristol Museums, and available for trips around Bristol Harbour:

Last Modified: 2023.12.13.

(Lyn Smith) Bristol, 1990


Public trip in Bristol harbour 2023

Firing up takes two days

SBA gets a thank you for help during the restoration in the 80's.

The engine features metal gland packing on the HP and LP piston rods. One of the two layers of packing for the HP cylinder is shown here.

Onboard for a public trip around Bristol harbour.