Winter 1979

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

Winter 1979

1979: A glimpse into Europe

  • A place of honour in the parade of vessels to mark the 150th anniversary of Austria’s First Danube Steamship Co went to the fleet’s last paddle steamer Schönbrunn, which lead the line of ships, with the Diesel Electric paddlers Stadt Wien and Stadt Passau immediately astern.
  • The all white colour scheme adopted for the Lake Brienz steamer Lotschberg might have upset Swiss purists, but the 1914 vessel was still in pristine condition.
  • The wheelhouse is empty as Lake Geneva steamer Rhone is brought towards the pier at St. Gingolph by the lone custodian of the bridge who is now using direct control from the wing. Now radar equipped, the Rhone was used in 1979 for an afternoon circuit of the upper lake.
  • At Kunz an enthusiast organization is hoping to secure long term preservation of the lake Constance paddle steamer Hohenwiel which dates from 1913.
  • The two lake Como steamers were advertised for Saturday evening dancing cruises throughout the season, the Patria from Colico to Dervio and the Concordia between Lecco and Menaggio.

Veteran paddler Medway Queen makes a very sorry sight as she lies in the River Medina near Binfield in May this year.

MV BalmoralBalmoral left Bristol City Docks on Monday April 6th and entered public service the following day. The season has been remarkably trouble free. The Swansea – Tenby trip planned for July 20th had to be diverted to Lundy due to administrative difficulties at Tenby, but enthusiasts were rewarded with a long time ashore at Lundy in excellent weather. Capt. EJ Wide, who has served with Campbells for 50 years, retired on August 31st. Balmoral has been kept in a smart and tidy condition this year, however poor catering standards have been the norm.

Lincoln Castle – More than 2,000 readers of the Hull Daily Mail took the trouble to complete a coupon inviting views on the future of Lincoln Castle. More than one reader thought that if the steamer was good enough for the front cover of the Hull Telephone Directory then it deserved a permanent home in the city! The background was the decision by Hull councilors not to grant permission to the new owner to moor the vessel in the town docks.

Waverley’s 1979 sailings – On the two long excursions in the Bristol Channel Waverley performed better than we expected. For the run from Avonmouth to Ilfracombe on June 2nd Waverley was joined by Capt Power who acted as pilot, and Capt Wide from Balmoral. Despite unfavourable tides she made good time on both days. On the Sunday excursion around Lundy the loading of sixty stranded passengers gave Waverley a first and unexpected call at Lundy. Returning from Ilfracombe to Penarth on this final English trip of the season, with nearly 700 aboard, Waverley pounded over to the Welsh coast at a steady 42rpm. We waited at Penarth as the storm boards were lowered and fresh water taken on board for the journey north. As she lay at the pier, Waverley’s destination board summed up the atmosphere of unreality. Four thousand two hundred and ninety seven days after the last paddle steamer had sailed on the Bristol Channel, a paddle steamer lay at Penarth proclaiming “Waverley for Campbeltown”.

Kingswear Castle – September and October have seen plenty of activity. Cleaning and painting of the hull has commenced and welding in of the new sponson brackets by our own fabrication team has commenced. The bottom plating is now under way. Each weekday, when tides permit, plates are being welded into the hull. The repairs are being carried out by FT Everard & Sons, Greenhithe. Weekends have seen a large amount of preparation work by volunteers, and each day a firewatcher has been on duty – society members have been using holiday leave to take their place in the rota.