1854 – 1927
A Maidenhead boat-builder during the heyday of the River Thames, Jonathan built the boat used by the Prince of Wales when he visited the town.
The latter part of the 19th Century saw the heyday of the Thames at Maidenhead, as it became a playground for the wealthy. Royalty and politicians attended house parties at Cliveden and Taplow Court, Skindles Hotel was popular with the ‘smart set’ from London, soldiers from the Brigade of Guards Club besported themselves with abandon, and gaiety girls from the London music halls entertained gentlemen in the houses in River Road (nicknamed Gaiety Row).
Local boatmen, who had previously built mostly trade craft, came into their own with the demand for pleasure craft, and business boomed.
Jonathan Bond dredged and reclaimed the swampy stretch of the Thames alongside River Road, on the Taplow side, and built a boathouse there. His boats were renowned throughout the country and he was a pioneer of electric boats.
Jonathan was very much in demand to build or hire out boats – he built a horse drawn shallop (a houseboat cum barge) which the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII, used on his frequent visits to Maidenhead. Jonathan also built the 73ft steam launch ‘Empress of India’.
Jonathan was a victim of his hard work and success. The council, on seeing how his business was flourishing, decided to assert its’ rights of ownership of the land on which it was built, and they put the land up for auction. Jonathan had to bid £250 a year for his own boatyard at auction, for the privilege of continuing to trade there.
Bond’s Boatyard closed in 1955. The site is now occupied by Maidenhead Rowing Club.