Autumn 1991

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

Autumn 1991

Ryde’s uncertain futureRyde, the last paddler built for the Southern Railway, faces uncertain future on the Isle of Wight. The developers of the site which she occupies close to the River Medina have indicated that they wish to dispose of her. It is very much hoped that Ryde can be saved. She is the last surviving Denny-built paddler.

50 year wait ends! – This year Waverley visited Northern Ireland, where the last paddler sailed fifty years ago. New ports bring new problems and in this case the Department of Transport applied a new Class III limit of 418 passengers making loadings and fares critical. Fortunately all sailings were either full or almost so, and the proportion of long trips ensured economic success. On Friday 17th May sailings covered the traditional Belfast Lough cruise route established in the last century and successfully revived by Balmoral in recent seasons. On Saturday and Sunday excursions sailed to the Isle of Man from Belfast and Donaghadee. These were the first Isle of Man excursions by paddle steamer since Greyhound in 1923.

Parisienne Princess – With the tricolour fluttering at the stern and the Eiffel Tower on the skyline ahead, the Princess Elizabeth looks every inch a Parisienne lady in her new berth on the River Seine. Although sandwich-board type signs announce her existence, there is no information about use as a museum ship and conference centre.

Nick Knight’s fine work recalled – The London Branch recently arranged for a brass plaque to commemorate the late Nick Knight in recognition of his work in connection with the purchase of Kingswear Castle and the subsequent restoration over many years. Tributes were paid to Nick’s achievements and to his immense value to the society, including arranging a berth on the Medway, and the provision at his own boat yard of slipway facilities. Without his help and inspiration there was little likelihood that the KC preservation project would have succeeded even if it had started at all.

1977 Manoeuvring KC in the vicinity of the slipway, Nick Knight (second left) directs operations.|Pat Bushell

My trip to the Scillies with BalmoralBalmoral was chartered the Isles of Scilly Steamship Co. to deputise on the service from Penzance while the Scillonian III received repairs to a damaged gearbox. Christopher Jones (age 8) wrote: We left Penzance at 9.15am. The sea was calm and I enjoyed looking the Cornish coastline. Derek the Purser did an interesting commentary. Soon we got out past Land’s End, and there was nothing to look at except the sea. Mum and I went round the deck and sold the ‘Waverley Times’. Before long we could see the Islands ahead. It was interesting sailing into St. Mary’s, the largest island. The scenery was beautiful. We stayed on board and watched the people getting off. The quayside was very busy with all the passengers and luggage being unloaded.

Kingswear Castle reportKC went up to London for her yearly visit towards the end of June for some charters and two public sailings. Saturday 29th June was warm and sunny which brought forth the crowds for the Medway Towns River Festival. KC was chartered by the Council as a free ferry between the piers and was full for most of the time. Up to the end of June passenger numbers were up 46% compared to last year.

And 50 years ago… Medway Queen Club opened; Embassy’s appearance altered by addition of mainmast; White Funnel – the use of three ships results in improved service for all piers; Waverley’s serious breakdown. Read more…