Understood to have been built in 1912 by Bill Horsham at the Ray Motor Co. boatyard at Raymill Island, Maidenhead, Laughing Water II is a Thames saloon launch constructed of mahogany on oak frames. She is believed to have been built for Lady Nancy Astor, Britain’s first woman MP, who lived at nearby Cliveden, where the boathouse still remains.
Laughing Water II is 49 feet long and is on the National Historic Ship Register. She was collected by Cox’s Boatyard from a small boatyard near Birmingham, where she was in a very poor state and had sunk. Cox’s Boatyard took their work boat up and towed her down the canal system through two locks to another boatyard, where she could be craned out onto a lorry to transport her back to Cox’s Boatyard.
We started the restoration in 2010 when we began replacing the planks, timbers, beams and part of the hog. Rebuilding the counter stern was a challenge as the stern plank has three different curves in it. Once we had rebuilt the hull, we started on the cabin by rebuilding the sides, doors, bulkhead and the complex roof and roof beams. She is now waiting to have the engine and inside restored.
Laughing Water II was the first vessel to navigate the restored Southern Stratford Canal in 1964 and has travelled all around the canal system of Great Britain.