Autumn 1980

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

Autumn 1980

Capt. John Cameron about to cast his wreath.

In the wake of the Dunkirk paddlers – Dunkirk was back in the news with the 40th anniversary of the evacuation of British troops. Waverley paid her own Dunkirk tribute in a day of special cross-Channel cruises from Deal on 12th May when the highlight was a simple but poignant ceremony in which a wreath of poppies was cast on the waters by Capt. John Cameron DSC, master of the earlier Waverley which was sunk on 29th May 1940 while returning from Dunkirk with over 900 troops on board. The paddler first cruised to turn off Cap Griz Nez where, to the disappointment of those on board, a whistle salute to the lighthouse was totally ignored! Waverley was then taken around the South Goodwin lightship and headed across channel on a course that followed one of the passages used for Dunkirk. The cruise received extensive coverage by BBC TV news and national press. Both TV channels also produced documentaries in which the sea-borne part was played down to a surprising extent. In some brief newsreel clips Royal Daffodil was described as a paddle steamer and there was a close up of the first Campbell Waverley during a description of the sinking of the Clyde Waverley of 1899. Capt. Cameron was the first master of the present Waverley and commanded her illustrious predecessor in her final peace time seasons in the 1930s. He has fond memories of the old Waverley. “She was a fast ship and the businessmen bound for Glasgow used to be able to set their watches by her on their morning trips to town”.

Kingswear Castle – The below water line repairs are one third completed with frames repaired in the forward part of the ship. A section of the engine room bulkhead has to be replaced – the wasted part will be cut away and a new section let in. Hull painting has also started.

Compton Castle – Photographs show that the steamer is in a derelict condition at Looe in Cornwall. The engine appears to be in good order but can be seen by looking upwards through a hole in the hull. The rest of the steamer, which has been beached, is a mass of rust and peeling paint and most of the superstructure as been stripped off. It is difficult to imagine that anything can be done to save her.

Medway Queen – Sadly Medway Queen is now completely derelict, sunk in the River Medina with water lapping above the saloon windows to promenade deck level at times. Regrettably this historic vessel is now no more than a wreck and any hope of her being restored must surely now be out of the question.

Ryde Queen – Parts of the ship (ex PS Ryde) have been repainted but she is generally in rather a shabby condition. Structurally she appears to be sound. It would be a tragedy if this fine vessel was to end up in the same condition as Medway Queen.

Plans to save Lincoln Castle – “Won! The Lincoln Castle Campaign” Under this headline the Hull Daily Mail reported on 24th May that “a 2 year battle to save the historic Humber ferry has been won in court. An application for a liquor license for the ferry, which is moored on the Hessle foreshore, was granted. It will be berthed near the Humber Bridge and now it will open as a floating restaurant, pub and museum” The result was hailed as a victory for supporters who have been trying to find a home for Lincoln Castle since she was withdrawn in 1978.

Royal Navy paddle tugs withdrawn – The diesel-electric paddle tugs Griper and Grinder left Portsmouth under tow on 3rd March bound for Spain. . The remaining vessels of this class are now all over 20 years old and no doubt will be withdrawn over the next few years.