From the Chairman – The news of the decision of Eagle Steamers to abandon operations, and of the offer for sale of PS Embassy and Cardiff Queen make sombre reading for the Society. The bad news underlines the desirability of doing something positive in respect of Kingswear Castle, since this is a project within our capabilities.
The annual meeting – The Medway Queen’s aft saloon, now magnificently appointed as a lounge bar, was an ideal setting. The meeting gave unanimous approval to the proposals that the Society should go ahead with attempts to preserve Kingswear Castle. There was a sympathetic hearing for Mr Don Rose who told of his company’s attempts to operate PS Queen of the South on the Thames Estuary last summer, and Mr Rose thanked warmly the large number of members who had helped the venture.
Bristol Channel Branch – Mr S C Smith-Cox was the speaker at a meeting in Bristol on December 11th. He chose as his subject “Paddles, Screws and Hovercraft”. The meeting attracted almost a record crowd for a branch function.
Scottish notes – With little to report I thought I might tell you what the Scottish paddlers are like to work on – having served on three of the four as assistant purser.
- Caledonia: Quite a comfortable ship to work on, very warm inside, her accommodation is roomy and comfortable. She alone boasts a bathtub in the Officer’s wash. Her high wheelhouse was my favourite vantage point.
- Waverley: The LNER were never noted for providing their Officers with luxurious accommodation which is probably why most of them go home. Having her ticket office next to the gangway is a distinct advantage. I heard of one assistant purser who played trumpet and used to climb in the wee door into the paddle box and practice away to his heart’s content. He said the box acted as a super echo chamber!
- Talisman: An exceptionally homely ship. She has a smaller crew so that one of the purser’s jobs is to look after the waist rope. Her heating is electric, but most of the power seems to be required for the engines. Her bridge is rather small, but the remote control of the engines is interesting and makes handling easier.
Humber paddlers – Winter cruising is still possible by the coal fired paddle ferries, Lincoln Castle, Tattershall Castle and Wingfield Castle. On arrival at New Holland pier you will have time to view the spare vessel and the simple coaling arrangements. All coaling is done using four wheel tubs which are filled from railway wagons and towed down the vehicle ramp.
The Portsmouth paddler – Ryde is at present in her winter hibernation at Newhaven and she figures prominently in new plans for the Portsmouth – Ryde route announced recently. She will be performing a Clarence Pier – Ryde service on summer Saturdays. If not full, she will go via the harbour to fill up there.
The Swiss steamer scene – Lake Geneva boasts Switzerland’s biggest paddle driven fleet. A total of 13 paddle driven vessels are in existence and five have been converted with diesel electric machinery. Two of the eight steamers are now retired. The Valais (1913) is used as a floating restaurant, and the General Dufour (1905) is likely to tie up for a similar role.