About

MB Fountain is a Historic Museum Ship (formally recognised and registered on the National Register of Historic Vessels) representing maritime industrial heritage. The custodian along with Friends of Fountain work to maintain and raise awareness of maritime heritage both in the UK and Internationally.

We do this is a variety of ways including protecting and restoring MB Fountain herself as well as managing significant archives, offering training and open days and keeping a public presence online including regular virtual exhibitions as well as touring exhibitions on a variety of subjects from Maritime Folklore to Knot Tying traditions.

MB Fountain was built in Cheshire to work on the river Thames and also has an interesting cultural heritage along with her unique design – she served as the bunkering ship to HMY Britannia during visits to the Pool of London and we are exploring her links to the designs of the ships that attended Galipoli.

Part of our work is exploring and recording the lives, histories and skills of the people who work the Thames and in line with this we are producing a full length documentary giving an insight into this somewhat hidden world. This is in the final editing process after three years of work and it is envisioned that MB Fountain herself will provide the movable venue for screenings – visiting the very communities that the film represents.

MB Fountain is currently on a ‘holding mooring’ on the Suffolk-Essex Border, and is currently preparing for a full overwinter restoration. We need your support to achieve this. More HERE.

MB Fountain needs urgent support to continue this work. CLICK HERE to read more

The Thames

The Thames has traditionally been Fountain’s home and her main place of work.

She started work in the 1950’s for C Crawley, a bunkering service based out of Gravesend who provided oil, water, and provisions to vessels visiting the Thames and Medway. She worked the Thames for over 40 years, supplying fresh water to a myriad of ships, yachts, and working vessels, including HMY Britannia and other VIP visitors to the Thames.

For the majority of this time she was based out of Crawley’s main yard in Gravesend, which would have included Gravesend Pier. She also made use of the Thames and Medway Canal to make the journey between her home yard and the river Medway.

Prior to MB Fountain, Thames bunkering providers operated a number of converted ‘X’ lighters, or “Black Beetles”, which were first world war landing craft based on Thames Barges. Crawley themselves operated several X lighters, and it is believed that MB Fountain was constructed as a direct replacement of one such vessel that became inoperable the year before Fountain was commissioned and built.

WJ Yarwoods

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Fountain was built at WJ Yarwoods in Cheshire in the early 1950s.

The shipyard at Yarwoods was active between 1896 and 1966.

The company founder, William James Yarwood (1851–1926) served an apprenticeship at an ironfoundry in Northwich. He was appointed as a blacksmith with the River Weaver Navigation. In 1896 he assumed control and renamed the John Thompson shipbuilding business, based on the west bank of the River Weaver near Northwich.

MB Fountain

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MB Fountain is a steel hulled ship, constructed using a combination of welded and riveted hull plating.

Her main hull is built of 10mm steel, which is substantially thicker than the minimum required for ships of her size.

Her main engine is a Lister Blackstone EV4 4 cylinder engine, which outputs ~ 180HP.