Kingswear Castle’s Refit 2013-14

Supporting the preservation and operation of paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle

Kingswear Castle’s Refit 2013-14

Kingswear Castle is the Society’s coal fired river paddle steamer now on extended charter to the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company and used on summer excursions from Dartmouth and Totnes on the River Dart in South Devon.  Details of her trips in 2014 are now available here.

These pictures were taken in the covered slip at the Company’s own shipyard at Old Mill Creek, a tributary of the Dart, shortly before being re-floated on February 1st.


Kingswear Castle’s condenser opened up showing the ends of the tubes through which the circulating pump sends cooling water and the outsides of the tubes over which the exhaust steam is condensed to water. During the 2013-14 refit Nigel Thomas has been partially retubing the condenser, replacing tubes that had previously been blanked off. (The quick fix for a leaking tube is to plug it.)

Head-on view with painting and sign-writing complete, but lacking the decorative scroll boards on either side of the bows, which are usually among the first items to come off at the end of a season and among the last to be put back.

Stern view with some yellow lining still to be touched in but showing the depth of shine in the black paint finish.

The rudder was removed for inspection as a survey item this year and is now back in place.

Kingswear Castle was built to the maximum dimensions for swinging at Totnes Steamer Quay. It looks as if she was also built to the maximum dimensions to fit in the shed.  The mast no longer has to be lowered in everyday service but needs to come down to get into the shed.

After consultation with Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust, the balance weights added to the funnel when it was hinged during the 1994-95 winter have been removed and the funnel fixed in position.

Looking down on the after deck with the awning removed. It is intended that in 2014 Kingswear Castle will carry a new awning that can be rolled up to the ridgepole in good weather, as was previous practice with the paddle steamers on the Dart.

An abundance of fresh paint and varnish looking down on the foredeck.

When the funnel was hinged the spacing between the main ventilators had to be widened to allow the balance weights to swing forward as the funnel swung aft. That was achieved by inserting a double elbow in each ventilator to set the top portions further apart. As with as many as possible of the departures from the original that took place during the Medway years, the modification was designed with some regard to its being reversed at some future date. That time has now come and the vents are again straight up and down at their original spacing. It will not be an unmixed blessing for the crew because the kinks in the ventilators in the seasons from 1995 to 2013 provided an ideal footstep for polishing the whistle!

The after welldeck showing the rudder quadrant and steering chains. It also shows that there is not much water in Old Mill Creek. Slipping and launching have to be done on high spring tides and the key events in the Dart company’s annual refit programme include dates of new and full moon.

[sig]Pictures by Nigel Thomas; words by Roddy McKee[/sig]