Thames Heritage Boat Museum gets go ahead
A Thames Heritage Boat Museum in the grounds of an animal park has been approved.
The museum at Beale Park, on the border of Berkshire and Oxfordshire, will house three historic vessels.
Trustees of two charities behind the project said Thames boat builders "made significant contributions to naval architecture in the 19th century".
The museum plan was initially refused by West Berkshire Council but granted by the Planning Inspectorate on appeal.
The three boats are on the Historic Ships National Fleet list.
The Consuta was built in Goring, Oxfordshire in 1898 and was the first steam launch designed for umpiring boat races, and was used during the Henley Royal Regatta.
It was used by the BBC in 1947 to provide the first outside broadcast coverage of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race.
The Cygnet, built in 1870, is reportedly the oldest surviving steam launch in the country, according to The Thames Boats Trust which now owns the vessel.
The Donola was built in 1894 for George Palmer of Reading's Huntley and Palmer biscuit company.
The museum will also exhibit information on the heritage and development of powered boatbuilding on the River Thames.
The plans were originally turned down by West Berkshire Council because of the effect on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
But planning appeals inspector Ken Smith disagreed and granted the plans after the Child Beale Trust - the charity that owns Beale Park - and the Consuta Trust appealed.
Robin Ford of the Consuta Trust said the trustees were "delighted".
"This is a wonderful opportunity to gather several surviving historic boats under one roof," he said.
"Our River Thames heritage is a very undervalued part of history."