Built in 1952 by W.J. Yarwood & Sons Ltd of Northwich, Cheshire, FOUNTAIN was a 75ft (80 L.O.) riveted steel hull bunkering vessel with unique riveted bow design fitted with a 121hp Lister Blackstone diesel for C. Crawley Ltd of Gravesend. Built as their flagship, FOUNTAIN was a modern version of the Thames sail barges which a her 3cyl diesel egnine which made her reliable and gave her a speed of around 7 knots. From the design of her funnel set up and the size of her engine room it would appear she was originally envisioned to carry a steam engine. However during her build, innovations from Blackstone meant that she received the very first of their new marine diesel engines putting her at the very front of a new age of power for Thames Barges.
Working out of C.Crawley's West Pier at Gravesend, FOUNTAIN supplied Fresh Water services to vessels on both the River Thames and Medway. The majority of C. Crawley's fleet were converted tanker ships but FOUNTAIN was purpose built as the fleet's flagship.
Providing bunkering services to ships on the River Thames brought her into contact with a huge variety of vessels including the HMY BRITANNIA for which she provided fresh water services during BRITANNIA'S visits to the Pool of London.
FOUNTAIN stayed in service until the late 1990's and, upon the dissolution of C. Crawley, was sold to private owners who lovingly maintained her and kept her wheelhouse and engine room in original condition.
Currently being restored as a museum ship, FOUNTAIN is also home to considerable specialist archives focussing on W.J. Yarwood and Sons Ltd, C Crawley Ltd (including fleet lists), as well as an extensive History of the Working Thames River.
Historic Museum Ship MB Fountain is supported by Friends of Fountain, an active and friendly group of supporters who carry out a wide range of tasks from maintenance and crewing to research. If you would like to get involved please visit their website.