The Museum’s steamboat, Falcon, was built as a pleasure and work boat, in 1895, by Simpson & Strickland of Dartmouth. Its first owner was Sir Edmond Lacon, of Lacon’s Brewery, Great Yarmouth. A falcon was the symbol of the Brewery.
Falcon was later separated from its steam engine and boiler and powered by petrol. Re-named, Vera, Falcon was used by a local boatyard during the Second World War. One of her duties was to dredge the rivers for unexploded bombs!
Meanwhile, the engine went into storage. It was owned by the Bower family.
In 1972, Rupert Latham of Collins Boatyard, Wroxham, had the engine overhauled and the boiler re-tubed. Finally, he found a hull suitable to take the steam plant. As it was identical to that in the 1895 Simpson and Strickland catalogue it was almost certainly Falcon’s original hull. In June 1977, engine and hull re-united, Falcon was launched at Wroxham under the joint ownership of Messrs Bower, Latham and Watson.
Along with her valuable documentation, Falcon was transferred to the Museum of the Broads in 1997. In 2002, Museum volunteers began the work of restoration. Both hull and engine needed work, and a new boiler was commissioned, using donations and a grant from Broadland District Council.
On 24 May 2005, Falcon set off on her first voyage for 18 years. After two seasons’ more hard work, she was given a major refit which involved stripping and rebuilding the engine, and re-varnishing and painting the hull.
In 2019, further funding, from LEADER, enabled a new engine to be built. The original engine and boiler will be displayed at the Museum in due course. Falcon is now back on the water, crewed by volunteers, and taking Museum visitors for an enjoyable and unique river trip.