January 2010:
Paddle Steamer Shipyard at Lucerne

January 2010:
Paddle Steamer Shipyard at Lucerne

The shipyard at Lucerne has a busy life maintaining in tip top condition the large fleet of passenger vessels on the lake as well as undertaking outside commissions. It also has an enviable reputation for renovating historic paddle steamers having, in the last couple of decades, rebuilt to a superb standard the Stadt Luzern, Uri, Schiller and Gallia. Now it is the turn of the Unterwalden, pictured above in January 2009 before entering the covered dock, to be re-built.

Her old boilers look a bit sorry for themselves and are about to be lifted out.

The empty boiler room.

A new boiler, built by Garioni Naval, arriving at the yard on 11th December 2009.

And into the Unterwalden it goes.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the yard, work has been proceeding with refurbishing a steam engine for installation in the paddle steamer Neuchatel in order to return her to operational condition. Withdrawn from service in 1972, Neuchatel lost her original engine and boiler but continued to make a living as a static restaurant and bar for many years at a berth in the town and on the lake after which she is named.

Neuchatel’s original engine has long since gone so it was a stroke of good fortune that this one, which originally powered the paddle steamer Ludwig Fessler on the Chiemsee, was found. The engine’s original owner is still in service each summer on her usual routes although her paddle wheels are now turned by Diesel hydraulic machinery installed in 1973.

The refurbished engine in pristine form and ready to be taken away for its new role in the Neuchatel.

The Lucerne yard not only has the finest expertise in maintaining historic paddle steamers but also is in the forefront of modern ship technology having built and put into service in the spring of 2009 the high-tech catamaran Cirrus.

And this combination of an interest and expertise in the old as well as the new is exemplified by people like Kurt Hunziger, pictured on the bridge of the Cirrus. When not driving the various types of ship on Lake Lucerne, he comes ashore to don another hat as one of the small team of editors of the “Dampferzeitung”, or “Steamer Times”, one of Europe’s foremost magazines for paddle and other steam-ship lovers.

For more details of the Paddle Steamer Neuchatel click here.

For the “Dampferzeitung” magazine website click here.

Pictures by E Buholzer.

Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.

John Megoran

John Megoran