Spring 1987

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

Spring 1987

KC awakes!Kingswear Castle lay alongside Thunderbolt Pier in a deep winter sleep. One day in December she was vaguely aware of being coaled, and some time later the engine came to life. She paddled up to Strood and remained there for a few hours. She had been paid a fee to vacate her pier to enable a TV company to film around it. Back at the pier she soon settled back to sleep. Not for long though, as on a bright Saturday morning she was made ready for a cruise. Her saloons were decorated and her captain hoisted a small fir tree to the main mast. At 11.15 am she moved up river to Strood again, but this time there was a crowd of people waiting on the pier. As they came aboard they were handed a beaker of hot punch. There was a turnout of 96 for a four hour cruise and Sunday saw 60 aboard for an afternoon cruise complete with Santa Claus and gifts for the children. There was a £3,000 boost when purser Chris Smith received £400 from Geoffrey Ryder on behalf of the Wessex Branch while KC treasurer Stafford Ellerman was handed a £2,632 cheque by Margaret Russell representing two years of London Branch effort. KC felt well pleased as she paddled back to Chatham into a lovely sunset.

More hard facts: By Waverley’s captain – During 1982 I was hounded by DoT surveyors regarding compliance with the safe means of access regulations which require rigging of barriers, safety nets, lighted lifebuoys and lines each time the gangway was placed between ship and shore. Most of the requirements were met but the rigging of safety nets, far from being an improvement was a hindrance which could have resulted in an accident. The dangling of nets in the immediate vicinity of revolving paddle wheels could have very serious consequences. Political pressure resulted in an exemption being granted. Continued resistance to regulations which threaten to drive us into extinction is vital. It is vital too, that whether the ship sails depends upon the master.

Medway Queen restoration project – Work on the ship has continued every weekend and a very noticeable advance was the plugging of the boiler room hole. This involved the digging of a deep trench under the ship to enable us to fit a patch from the outside. Access was only possible on the very lowest tides. We can now work down in the engine spaces for much longer periods and we have removed vast quantities of mud, helped by a new piece of equipment which fits on to the pump hose outlet and incorporates a venturi nozzle. Anything near the bottom of the pipe is sucked up with considerable force.

Medway Queen in her berth on the Medway dressed overall
in honour of Waverley’s September visit.|Kent Evening Post

Charitable status – Becoming a charity will bestow additional status on the Society which makes outsiders more disposed to make donations and there will also be advantages through covenanted subscriptions. A target date of July 1987 has been set to coincide with the new subscription year.

And 50 years ago… Arrangements have been made to install a new boiler in Kingswear Castle which the River Dart company hope will preserve her in good running order for a further period; The Bristol Channel steamers will again be the two “Queens” with Glen Usk in reserve; The billiard room of “The George” was packed with members to hear Mr WG Peake, MD of the New Medway SP Co. speak on the topic of “Engines”. Read more….