Scottish news – PS Caledonia was sold on February 4th and a week later she was towed from Rothesay Dock to the Dalmuir Basin of Arnott Young & Co (Shipbreakers). It seems that the breakers intend to sell her as an operational unit if at all possible. She now carries the name Old Caledonia. The remaining Clyde paddler Waverley emerged for service on Good Friday and has sailed every day since. On Sunday April 5th Waverley had the first of the season’s charters. The trip was from Glasgow (Princes Dock) to Rothesay and during the afternoon the PSPS Scottish Branch had a sub-charter from Rothesay and Wemyss Bay round the Isle of Bute. This venture was a success despite the appalling weather conditions, and for the very reasonable fare of 7s.6d (37p) passengers had five hours of cruising. At its formation the Scottish Branch had about 25 members but this figure has now grown to 60 and it is hoped to reach about 100 by the end of the summer. With the announcement of the withdrawal of Caledonia a massive campaign was drawn up which led to widespread press and TV publicity. The Spring timetable, due to commence on March 27th was not issued by April 6th. Maid of the Loch was on the Balloch slipway during March and preparing for her season on Loch Lomond which begins with early charters in May. Last year she carried 180,000 passengers.
Solent scene – This year threatens to be the first since 1812 that no paddle steamer has operated in the South West.
- PS Ryde: is now in the hands of the stores department for disposal and more than half a dozen offers have been received. It is doubtful if she will sail again.
- PS Princess Elizabeth: The rusting, engineless hull of the former Red Funnel paddle steamer has been bought for about £3,000 and towed to Marchwood slip. It is understood that she will be incorporated in the St Katherine’s Dock redevelopment near Tower Bridge.
- PS Medway Queen: The first stage of the Medway Queen Company’s marina is due for completion in June. The southern millpond remains untouched with Medway Queen still afloat. Medway Queen’s restaurant facilities will be inadequate and a second ship is being sought. MV Lochfyne and PS Caledonia were inspected but are respectively too small and too expensive.
- PS Kingswear Castle: During the winter the boiler and machinery were properly laid up to the Society’s satisfaction. The plan to keep Kingswear Castle in the River Medina has been abandoned. She will be brought into the northern mill pond where she can be slipped and attended to.
- MV Balmoral: Balmoral arrived at Husband’s Shipyard at Marchwood for an underwater survey on April 3rd. She was expected to return to Cosens at Weymouth after about two weeks for her final preparation for the summer season, to begin with a PSPS Charter on May 2nd.
A pint in ‘The Paddler’ – The Medway Queen tradition is perpetuated at the Hotel St George, Herne Bay which has recently been renovated with one of its bars dedicated to ‘The Paddler’. There are a number of relics and photographs and there is a copy of an old handbill of 1832 extolling the new resort of Herne Bay and health giving paddle steamer cruises.