Vintage bus to vintage steamer – On 12th December 27 enthusiastic Wessex Branch members climbed out of their warm beds at the ungodly hour of 5am or thereabouts to join an outing to Kingswear Castle. John Woodhams’ 1950 Bedford OB coach was our means of transport. We progressed at a steady rate, albeit far more leisurely than current fashion dictates. Arriving at Strood, we surveyed the damp grey landscape, then Kingswear Castle paddled prettily into view. Her sparkling white red and green paddlebox was in complete contrast to the surroundings. On boarding KC, hot punch and mince pies soon obliterated the cold breeze blowing as we headed down river. On our return, time was short and we were soon OB-ing back to Portsmouth and the island.
Medway Queen on the move – At long last, after two years of hard work and effort the Medway Queen was re-floated in early November and towed to a better berth. A petition that the ship be found a berth on the Medway was signed by many local people. Among expressions of sympathy and positive offers of help was the offer of a winter berth in Damhead Creek, close to Kingsnorth Power Station. Medway Queen floated for the first time on November 1st after two years on the mud. By 6th November we were ready to go. We were due to leave at 3am on the ebb tide. At about 2.30am Medway Ports Authority arrived with a problem – our tug was fog bound at Sheerness! We had no option but to let Medway Queen settle back on the bottom and wait for next day’s tide. Saturday 7th dawned reasonably clear and the tug Beult II arrived even before the ship was properly afloat. Now everything was to be done on one tide. The Ports Authority were happy for the tow to take place at a faster rate. As we passed Upnor Castle and other landmarks it was interesting to speculate that the last time Medway Queen passed this way was in 1963. We turned into Damhead Creek to arrive at the new berth where a large number of members and friends were waiting.
Princess Elizabeth for Paris – Former Red Funnel paddler Princess Elizabeth, for many years a Thames landmark has been towed across the English Channel to France and is to be converted for use as a floating museum on the River Seine. The veteran was the last steamer in the Red Funnel fleet when displaced in 1959 and saw further service in Torquay and Weymouth before being laid up in 1965 and sold two years later.
Queen Mary dry docked at Chatham – The ex-Clyde turbine steamer has been acquired by Charringtons and was towed to Chatham Dockyard and dry docked in December and is now undergoing internal renovation at Crescent Shipping.
Eileen Pritchard – PSPS member No. 1 – Eileen Pritchard of Southampton whose death occurred recently was one of the founding members of PSPS. She held membership No. 1, of which she was very proud. Many early meetings of the Society took place in her home. As the widow of Laurence A Pritchard who was concerned with the design of several paddle steamers, her interest in ships and shipping was considerable.
Our Society by another name – In September last year PSPS became a company limited by guarantee and on December 21st we were granted Charitable Status.
And 50 years ago… The Society acquired the PS Alumchine; Whippingham was offered for sale; The Bristol Queen is being charted for the Scilly Islands; “Don’t go into the steamship business” warned Mr WJ Philpott, former manager of Eagle Steamers. Read more….