Here at Gondola HQ we’re very fortunate to have made some good friends over the years and as with all good friendships we’re never shy in asking for a favour or two.
Recently we begged a favour off our good friend Bill, who is skilled in the art of carpentry having worked for many years as a joiner for the National Trust. Bill very kindly volunteered his time to repair one of the capitol boards that sit on the prow of the boat.
Those of you with a keen eye will have noticed that the capitol board holds a clue or two about Gondola’s noble connections.
Here’s another shot showing the capitol boards in place on the boat, the two halves butting up against each other to form a coat of arms of three white stags heads on a black background together with the motto ‘Cavendo Tutus’ carved into the red ribbon below.
If you never got round to completing your I-Spy Book of Heraldry when you were young you might not be aware that this is the coat of arms and motto of the Duke of Devonshire. You can see the motto prominently displayed in gold lettering on the Duke’s home at Chatsworth House below.
The 7th Duke of Devonshire was the Chairman of the Furness Railway at the time Gondola was originally built in the late 1850’s which is how the Devonshire coat of arms came to feature on the boat.
The family motto, ‘Cavendo Tutus’, roughly translates as ‘safe through caution’. We think this is a rather appropriate motto for a boat that carries members of the public, although it doesn’t seem to hold much sway with our public liability insurers judging by the cost of this year’s renewal!
There’s also another hint of the link between Gondola and the Devonshires - on Chatsworth House a number of coiled snakes are carved into the frieze below the roofline. This is echoed on Gondola by the golden sea serpent on its prow.
And that’s only part of Gondola’s nobility story as the boat also has a link with another Duke, the Duke of Buccleuch. You can see his coat of arms on Gondola’s stern.
The 5th Duke of Buccleuch was also a major shareholder in the Furness Railway, but presumably didn’t have as many shares as the Duke of Devonshire.
Loath though I am to compare Gondola to a pantomime horse, it seems that the Duke of Devonshire pulled rank and opted for the front legs!