Sunday, March 20, 2016

Czech Republic 2016
Historical Vehicles - Paddle Steamer Vysehrad

COUNTRY: Czech Republic
ISSUE DATE: 17 February 2016
STAMP SIZE: 40 x 23 mm
 STAMP DESIGN: Pavel Sivko

The paddle steamer Vyšehrad was built in 1938 under the name Antonín Švehla. It was later renamed Karlstein (1942), T.G. Masaryk (1945), Děvín (1952) and Vyšehrad (1992). She is one of the last two remaining operating large paddle steamers on the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic and belongs to the Prague Steamboat Company. In 2013, the Czech Ministry of Culture placed it on the list of national cultural heritage.

The steamer was built in 1938 by the shipbuilding and woodworking company in Ústí nad Labem. The company’s general manager was the chief designer and the machinery was supplied by ČKD Prague. She was one of the four large steamers commissioned by the Prague Steamboat Company during the modernisation of its fleet in the 1930s, when new boats were being bought and old ones modernised. Type-wise, the first two steamers, the Dr. Edvard Beneš (renamed Labe from 1939) and the Antonín Švehla (today’s Vyšehrad) were inspired by the then a decade old salon steamships Dresden and Leipzig built for the Dresden-based SBDA in 1926 and 1929, respectively. Each of the new Czech steamers cost 2.5 million Czech crowns.

The Vyšehrad was launched during a ceremony attended by the minister of industry, business and trades on 1 May 1938. In 1980, the steam boiler was converted into a liquid fuel (light fuel oil) fired boiler in the Prague-Smíchov works. In 1992, at the same time as the Vltava steamer, the Vyšehrad was completely renovated in the Boletice-based ČSPLO works and converted into a restaurant salon boat. The original steam engine has been preserved but the steam boiler was replaced. At a launching ceremony held on 13 August 1992, the renovated steamer was renamed Vyšehrad. The plating of the boat was replaced during the latest reconstruction in the Dresden-Laubegast shipyard in the winter of 2006-2007.

The Vyšehrad is 62 m long and 6.2 m wide (10.5 m over the paddleboxes). Her installed power is 165 kW (220 hp) at 42 rpm. Originally she could carry 885 passengers; nowadays it is 300 and 199 of them can be seated. The maximum speed boasted in a contemporary advertisement was 20 km/h, but the actual maximum speed in calm water was about 17 km/h.

At first, both salon steamers were used on a route between Prague and Vrané nad Vltavou. During the first 70-day season, they carried an average 150 passengers during one cruise. In 1939, the top covers on the upper deck were removed to ease the passage through some lower profiles, such as under the railway bridges in Skochovice and Štvanice.

During World War II, the steamer was confiscated and served in Dresden as a field kitchen for refugees fleeing the Red Army. After the war, she was returned to Prague. In the 1970, the two salon steamers were used on the route between Prague and Štěchovice as regular boats. Since the 1992 reconstruction, the Vyšehrad has been used mainly as a restaurant boat and a boat for private cruises, but it can also be used by the general public on the routes between Prague and Slapy and Prague and Mělník several times a year.

Stamp image and description thanks to Česká pošta