Autumn 1974

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

Autumn 1974

Waverley’s future – The Strathclyde Regional Council is expected to announce early in the new year whether they will make a grant towards operating Waverley. Their support is vital to putting the steamer back into service next summer. Working parties descended on the Waverley as soon as the vessel was officially handed over in August. The steamer was thoroughly cleaned from stem to stern and there was a lot of external scraping, painting and varnishing. Scotts of Greenock were brought in to repair some 8,500 feet of decking, all damaged glass on the ship has been replaced and a new name board made and fitted to the starboard paddle box.

Kingswear Castle – Caulking of the main decks is now nearly complete with three sessions lasting until 8.30 and 9.30pm. being finished under electric light. This must have looked like a witches tea party with steaming cauldrons, scurrying up and down the deck seams and mutterings. In the engine room the air pump has been re-erected after cleaning and inspection and the circulating pump has been stripped down – internal condition is first class.

Captain Aldis.

Medway veteran remembered – With the passing of Capt. TJ (Tommy) Aldis a link with the Thames and Medway steamers has parted (wrote HC Stone). PS Princess of Wales re-opened the old pe-war route from Strood to Southend in 1921 and was Capt. Aldis’ first command. The following year the far larger City of Rochester became available and he was transferred to her as master. As one personally acquainted with him from the time he took the little PS Audrey into Herne Bay Pier in 1923, I feel the events in his life should be recorded.

The sailing bill shows PS Audrey leaving Chatham at 8am, Southend at 10am, calling back at Sheerness before proceeding to Herne Bay. Three hours were allowed to make the crossing to Southend and back before the homeward journey. The snag was there alright, as on any fine day the ship would fill to capacity at Southend for the no-landing trip, and there could be up to twice the ship’s capacity to be brought home. Princess of Wales, coming light from Rochester was able to take away the overflow. In latter years either Queen of Kent or Queen of Thanet would put in at Herne Bay to collect up the left behinds, and sometimes cut corners off the Kentish flats to make up for lost time, resulting in an all night stay on a sand bank. The Calais run got to be known as the no passport day and night trip!

Princess of Wales in 1921 with Captain Tommy Aldis in command,

Capt. Aldis was given command of Medway Queen for her first two seasons, opening a second new service to Clacton, Walton and Felixstowe. He moved to Queen of Thanet, and his congenial disposition made her the most popular ship in the fleet. Leonard Horsham (later to command Medway Queen) was his first officer. He took command of the company’s first motor vessel Queen of the Channel, and retained command of MV Royal Sovereign for war service, bringing some 16,000 troops from Dunkirk. Royal Sovereign was sunk by a mine in the Bristol Channel, and Capt. Aldis was injured.

On June 8th 1946 the first two post-war steamers sailed into Margate Jetty – Queen of Thanet, with Capt. TJ Aldis D.S.C. at the helm, was first to come alongside. He took command of the second Queen of the Channel in 1949 for some while until he retired.


Compiler’s note

This edition of PW actually appeared in Winter 74, and is shown here because no Summer edition was published.