Kingswear Castle’s 30 Years of Operation
Richard Clammer writes:-
Dartmouth’s paddle steamer “Kingswear Castle” celebrates a significant anniversary this year. Thirty years ago, on 18 and 19 May 1985, the ship set out on her first full public excursions since she had left the River Dart many years before.
The 1924-built paddler operated on the Dart until 1965 when, becoming too expensive to maintain, she was withdrawn, laid up and replaced by a modern diesel vessel. Two years later she was rescued by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society who moved her first to the Isle of Wight and then to the River Medway where volunteers from the Society began the long and painstaking task of restoration.
After 12 years’ hard work their efforts were crowned with success when the paddler completed her steaming trials in November 1983. Two years later, having passed all necessary surveys, the ship was granted her full passenger certificates and commenced a programme of public sailings on the Medway and Thames. For the next 28 years this successful programme was constantly refined and the ship carefully maintained and improved.
Then, after many months of negotiation, an agreement was signed to return the ship to Dartmouth on a long-term charter to the Dartmouth Steam Railway & River Boat Company and, amid emotional scenes, the old steamer returned to the river of her birth on 18 December 2012. Brightly painted in her original livery she re-entered service on Good Friday 2013 and for the past two years has worked her way into the hearts of locals and visitors alike as she paddles about the river on her harbour cruises and trips to Totnes.
Courtesy of Karen Pelow, Dartmouth Chronicle
On Wednesday afternoon 13 May members of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society joined the “Kingswear Castle” crew and passengers on an afternoon cruise to cut a cake in celebration of the steamer’s 30 years in operational preservation and to wish her a long and successful future on the River Dart.