Wharfinger: Flat-pack steam ship

By Giles Broadbent on September 7, 2010 11:14 AM |

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High in Peru, on lake Titicaca, floats a living piece of history that dates back to the days when London was a key shipbuilding centre.

The 1861 steamship Yavari is now the only working single screw passenger ship in the world, a product of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co of Bow Creek - which also gave birth to West Ham Utd (the "Irons").

Ordered by the Peruvian government, the Yavari and her sister ship Yapura, found their way to the world's highest lake by unorthodox means.

They were built in numbered sections, none of the 2,766 weighing more than a mule could carry. Which was the way the pieces made the final 190 miles of their journey - over mountain passes and across driest deserts.

Engineers from Boulton & Watt went ahead of the party to build a jetty by the lake - and they had time on their side. It took seven years for all the parts to arrive.

The Yavari was launched on Christmas Day 1870. It was in regular service until 1950 and was rediscovered in 1982 and a charitable trust set up to restore the craft.

Go to yavari.org

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