Spring 1983

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

Spring 1983

Engines run again after 15 years – November 20th was a memorable day for Kingswear Castle because the engines were run again for the first time since the vessel left the Isle of Wight. The achievement was the result of a sustained effort by the engine room team led by Chris Jones. To get to this point the steam pipework to all the auxiliaries had to be completed and lagged. Also the boiler had to be lagged and the casing replaced. On the Saturday high tide with the lubricators charged and numerous other preparations made, the steam valve was very gently opened and everything went round very smoothly. Even without the floats on the wheels she gave a good tug on the mooring rope!

Engine trials did not slow progress elsewhere. The after well deck and coach deck above the after saloon have been completely lifted. This gives access to the steelwork where considerable repair and renewal is necessary. November 20th also saw the presentation by Rochester-upon-Medway City Council of the cheque towards the deck timber renewal fund and the Civic visitors were able to see Kingswear Castle in steam.

Bristol Channel Branch – welcomed Clifton Smith-Cox, last chairman and MD of P & A Campbell. Speaking from the sketchiest of notes, he enthralled us for almost an hour and a half, charting his earliest memories of the many companies competing in the channel and his ultimate involvement in the most important of them. He intrigued us with details of the third ship, which after the war was never built, and entertained us with an often amusing account of Campbell’s kingdom. We were able to say, collectively, thank you for twenty five years of vintage cruising.

Waverley – did not have to vacate Stobcross Quay at the end of last year and with no necessity for the vessel to be in steam, plans for a Christmas cruise were dropped. Instead refit work continued with the incorporation of further steel decking on the main deck from aft of the funnels towards the stern. Waverley is expected to go to Clydedock in Govan for dry docking at the end of February with the move to new headquarters at Lancefield Quay, only a short distance from WSN’s first home at Anderson Quay.

New boilers for world’s oldest paddle steamer – Norwegian enthusiasts have been spending a busy Winter working on Skibladner and it looked as we went to press that tasks including the fitting of new boilers would be complete and that the operating company would have sufficient money to start the 127th season of cruises on Lake Mjosa. While the new boilers are rather smaller than the originals, they are being made to appear as similar as possible. Construction of replicas of the original boilers, made in Sweden, was considered, but the plan had to be abandoned because of cost.

A Brazilian paddle steamer adventure – The Rio Sao Francisco is almost unknown outside Brazil. Some time ago the company started replacing the old paddle steamers, and only shortage of money made them think twice about the last stern wheelers. PS Sao Francisco was built in Pittsburg and sailed on the Amazon from 1912 until 1928 and has been on the Sao Francisco ever since. Marvellous scenery can be enjoyed from the deck of the steamer because the river is always less than a mile wide. Only first class passengers enjoy some kind of comfort – they sleep in two bed cabins. Second class passengers occupy the space between the engine, boiler and wood where they span their own hammock. The same deck is also a food store. A big beef leg hangs from the upper deck, about a dozen of poultry nervously scratch on the deck and two sheep bleat continuously.

The ritual raising the flag on the Sao Francisco.|Daniel Krügel

One of the locomotive boilers of the Sao Francisco sternwheeler.|Daniel Krügel