Saint Magdalene is the Society’s large boat. She was built in South Wales in 1991 and moved from Monmouthshire to Linlithgow Canal Centre in 1995.
She can carry up to 40 passengers (36 if a catering table is used) seated at 10 (or 9) tables of four. Her passenger accommodation is fully enclosed and has central heating. There is a small foredeck at the front of the boat. She has a toilet, a 240 volt AC supply and a small galley with a sink and hot water urn.
Saint Magdalene is 45ft (11.6 metres) long and 8ft (2.5 metres) wide with a draft of 3 feet (0.9 metres) and weights 11.5 tons.
Abergavenny to Linlithgow
Saint Magdalene was originally named “Ohmega” and was built in 1991 by Millsteel Fabrication, Abergavenny. She was fitted out by Castle Narrowboats who are based near Abergavenny on the 33 mile Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal and was used as a trip boat. Ohmega originally had a 5 kW 72 volt electric motor powered by 2 x 36 volt batteries. The batteries were located in the boxes under the passenger entrance steps.
Ohmega was purchased by LUCS in 1995 for £40,000 after a fund raising appeal, with West Lothian District Council providing a grant for half this amount. She arrived at Preston Farm on 28th March where her hull was treated before being launched at Park Farm two days later.
Prior to her arrival, LUCS had had the use of “Janet Telford” on loan from the Seagull Trust who sold her to the Forth & Clyde Canal Society at Kirkintilloch at same time LUCS purchased Ohmega. When she was launched at Park Farm on 30th March 1995, the same crane and lorry was used to lift Janet Telford out of the canal to take her to Kirkintillch were she is today.
Also on the 30th March there was a ceremony to welcome the new LUCS boat to the Linlithgow Canal Centre and rename her. Her new name was the result of a competition for local school children to suggest a name. Suggestions included Sparky; Lucy; Queen Mary; The Black Bitch. The name Mary Stuart was narrowly beaten by Saint Magdalene, a name chosen by Gillian Morrison who helped West Lothian Convenor Jimmy McGinley re-name the boat.
Saint Magdalene’s first public trip to the Avon Aqueduct was on 1st April thereafter regular weekend afternoon aqueduct trips had carried 4,000 passengers carried by year end.
In 1998 the decision was taken to replace the electric motor with a diesel engine. Not only had the efficiency of the batteries decreased by then but it seemed likely that Saint Magdalene would require a greater range as it was becoming clear that Lowland canals were to be opened up.
Saint Magdalene’s last trip under electric power was the traditional members frostbite cruise on 2nd January 2000. After this the batteries and electric motor were removed, the hull modified and a diesel engine installed. Central heating (using engine coolant), a new galley and 240 volt electrics were also provided. Before the modified boat could carry passengers it had to pass an inspection by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency who complimented LUCS on this being “a thoroughly professional job”.
Saint Magdalene’s first trip under diesel power was her participation in the M8 bridge opening flotilla.