UNITED KINGDOM — England is known for its ancient history, what with the United Kingdom nation home to the Magna Carta, Big Ben and Stonehenge. The former colonial isle is also where what is considered to be the oldest electrically powered vessel still in existence was built. Mary Gordon is probably hanging about somewhere these days, but she was built in 1898 and measured 52 feet in length.
She is certainly not a SoCal Classic but Mary Gordon’s history is worth noting here in our Fast Facts section. The website, nationalhistoricships.org.uk, states Mary Gordon is “the oldest electrically powered craft still in existence.” She was commissioned before the turn of the century by the Leeds City Council and was named after Mary Gordon (the wife of the municipality’s mayor).
The vessel debuted on Waterloo Lake in Leeds’ Roundhay Park in 1899 and switched hands several times afterwards until the 1970s, when Mary Gordon sank and was left abandoned at the bottom of the River Trent. A man by the name of Graham Mackereth had rescued her in the late 1970s and restoration efforts have been off and on ever since.
Oakwood Church in Leeds featured a story of Mary Gordon on its website and explained the vessel as “one of the largest electric launches ever built.”
“Electric powered boats, driven by large numbers of batteries, were very fashionable in the 1890s,” the Oakwood Church feature stated. “In 1914 the Mary Gordon was converted from electrical to aerial propulsion. An 8- to 10-horse power Alpha marine motor was … fitted on the rear deck complete with propeller.”
Mary Gordon, by most recent accounts, was being restored by The Mary Gordon Trust, but the group’s website does not appear to have updates of any sort since 2013.