Well, I’ve never been to Venice, but I have been in a gondola – a steam Gondola anyway. It’s a restored boat, owned by the National Trust that operates on Coniston Water. Of course, we had to take a trip on it even if it isn’t free to National Trust members.
The boat was originally launched in 1859 having been built for the Furness Railway company who had a line that run into Coniston. The line was originally intended to convey materials from the mines and quarries in the area, but the company opened it up to passengers with the boom in tourism in the Lakes. The Gondola was an added attraction which no doubt made a few extra pounds for the company. The Gondola ran on the lake until 1936. It was converted to a houseboat in 1946 but eventually fell into disrepair. It was restored in the late seventies and came back into service in 1980.
Trips on the lake leave from Coniston pier, a short walk from the village centre and the 45 minute “cruise” goes half way down the lake and then calls at Brantwood and Monk Coniston before returning to its departure point.
Inside it’s origins as a vessel run by an Edwardian railway company are evident with it’s First and Second class lounges.