Spring 1989

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

Spring 1989

Record number of teddy bears sail on Balmoral – There were four Teddy Bears parties in 1988, from Penarth, Swansea, Ilfracombe and Bristol. Over 235 bears travelled and more than half the children and their parents had not sailed on Balmoral or Waverley before. Every Teddy Bear received a badge and a certificate saying that they had sailed on Balmoral. There were also competitions for the tallest, smallest oldest and best dressed Teddy Bears. Winners were presented with their prizes by the Captain on the bridge. The Teddy Bears were very well behaved – they did not run around the decks, eat too many sweets and were not seasick.

Wingfield Castle progress – Since November PS Wingfield Castle, undergoing restoration in Hartlepool, has been open to the Public at weekends. Built in Hartlepool in 1934 for the LNER as one of two sister ships, Wingfield Castle and Tattershall Castle spent their working lives as ferries over the Humber estuary.

Wingfield Castle at Hartlepool.|John Megoran

Wingfield Castle bridge interior.|John Megoran

Lincoln Castle opens in Grimsby – Following extensive refurbishment work at Grimsby, Lincoln Castle’s official opening ceremony took place on 19th January. The new carvery restaurant is at the forward end of the ship. The vessel is located at Alexandra Retail Park in the heritage centre of the town.

Queen Mary – A job well done – The former Clyde turbine steamer Queen Mary finally opened during December on the Thames Embankment on the berth once occupied by PS Caledonia. She still has the feel of a ship and no attempt has been made to disguise the original deck heads. The original dining saloon is a carvery with the atmosphere enhanced by the retention of the old wood paneling. Photographs of the ship’s Clyde career are prominently displayed.

Medway Queen – One of the nicer features of the original saloon was a paneled false ceiling which completely hid the deck beams overhead. Unfortunately, years of dereliction had left it rotten, trapping water. So it was stripped out and removed together with the rotten paneling behind the bar. This has allowed access to the bulkhead, now chipped and painted. We were recently able to turn our attention to the boiler room. There is a hole down there which prevents us from being able to keep the ship afloat permanently. Work has started on digging out the boiler and the area underneath. It is a really filthy job, but very much better than the rushed, hourly shifts between tides that was all that could be managed while the ship was on the river at Chatham, and where on some days the water never completely left the ship.

A new Commodore Club ticket – that you never need buy again allows sailings on Waverley and Balmoral for the life of the member. It is available to all retired persons for a donation of £1,000.

Branch news

  • Scottish: Joe McKendrick and Gordon Wilson’s ‘Balmoral Briefs’ featured our ocean greyhound in many of her new haunts of 1988.
  • North of England: Peter Reid travelled south on 4th February to entertain us. His talk on his experiences as ‘Accountant at Large’ was both informative and amusing.
  • London & Home Counties: 34 members came to hear Margaret Russell give us a talk ‘The Two Old Girls in Steam’ about her adventures on Waverley.
  • Bristol Channel: An illustrated talk by John Megoran proved very enjoyable and attracted over 80.
  • Wessex: The winter meetings commenced on 15th October with an afternoon of member’s slides. The following month we held a film show featuring ‘The Feathered Wheel’.

And 50 years ago… Work done to save Medway Queen; Totnes Castle disposed of; Caledonia made newspaper headlines. Read more…