Isle of Wight Branch – Following the AGM when it was decided to re-form the branch, a meeting was held on Medway Queen on 6th January. Three Islanders scrambled aboard Kingswear Castle to inspect the Society’s acquisition. A few small jobs were done before darkness and rain sent the party back to the warmth of Medway Queen for a welcome “cuppa”.
Wessex Branch news – On the Woolston side of the River Itchen one can still see the red funnel of Princess Elizabeth. She does not look very different, with bridge still intact and funnel still in place, but the time will come when she has gone completely, and with her the last paddle steamer to have been built locally. We were very fortunate to be able to buy her wheel, although the cost was greater than anticipated.
PS Queen of the South – At a recent Court hearing against the owners for arrears in payments for mooring etc an order was made that she be put up for sale. She has gone to a Belgian firm of shipbreakers.
MV Queen of the Channel – youngest of the excursion ships on the Thames, Medway and Kent coast has been sold. Work is in hand boarding up the windows. Although not a paddler she is the last in the line and her departure from her lay up berth in Rochester would appear to close 148 years of excursion sailings in this area.
Bristol Queen to be preserved? – Following the announcement that PS Bristol Queen was being withdrawn a great deal of correspondence has taken place in the “Bristol Evening Post” on whether she should be preserved in Bristol as a maritime museum. Mr Smith-Cox writes “The cost of fuel, wage rates, not only on board ship but in yards, have so increased running costs that it is only with the aid of every modern device and economy that it is possible to maintain services at all. In the case of my own company (P & A Campbell) Bristol Queen and Cardiff Queen have continued to operate after many similar ships have gone because they were new vessels built since the war”.
Scottish news – By October all four Clyde steam vessels had retired to Queens Dock in Glasgow. Waverley is berthed outside Queen Mary II and Caledonia is lying beside Duchess of Hamilton. It is not expected that a paddler will undertake standby duties this year – the Maid vessels are likely to keep this right up till Easter. HC Stone writes: There is still an opportunity to book up for the old fashioned and tranquil holiday of getting up from the breakfast table and within a few minutes being aboard a paddle or turbine steamer on the Firth of Clyde. The Clyde Cruising Holiday has been arranged this year with accommodation on the West Bay of Dunoon. This may be your only opportunity of cruising aboard all four of these old time steamers.