Winter 1992

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

Winter 1992

Waverley dominates Carradale harbour – Sunday 27th September 1992 was day for the enthusiast with the opportunity for a unique sailing to Carradale, on the Kintyre Peninsula. In the days when Campbeltown had a steamer company of its own, the pier at Carradale, an elegant iron structure, had daily visitors. The pier is no more, and Captain Michel faced a considerable challenge by agreeing that a call in the tiny harbour should be included in the schedule. In this case more than ever the sailing was certainly “subject to weather and other circumstances permitting”. In fact, the weather was kind, with scarcely a breath of wind. Berthing the steamer was an intricate exercise carried out with consummate skill, and many local people turned out to witness and to wonder at the first visit to the village by a passenger ship of any size since March 1940. Well over 500 passengers were on board the steamer.

Waverley at Carradale Harbour.|Ashley Gill

Royal Lady – A while ago we asked for information about a vessel named Imperial Eagle that was sailing from Malta to Gozo and had portholes marked ‘GSNC 1904’. In 1934 Thomas Round & Sons of Sunderland built a twin screw motor vessel named Royal Lady to operate pleasure trips. The venture proved so successful that they ordered a second, larger and faster vessel which they named New Royal Lady and they sold the first vessel to Malta. The new vessel was certificated for 700 passengers as far as Gravesend. She was similar but larger than the Rochester Queen that is a floating restaurant at Rochester She was sold on to GSN in 1947 and re-named Crested Eagle. At the end of 1957 she followed her predecessor to Malta.

The mystery of the porthole fittings has now become clearer. As a GSN ship she would have been serviced at the company’s yard at Deptford Creek where it was common practice to keep the workshop busy making replacement fittings. They would be marked with the company’s name and dated. Thus a fitting made in 1904, could have been taken from one of the company’s many cargo ships and fitted to the Crested Eagle between 1947 and 1957.

Kingswear Castle alongside Medway Queen, August 1st 1992.|Ashley Gill

KC moors alongside Medway Queen – There has been a constant stream of visitors to the Queen’s berth at Damhead Creek. We have enjoyed a fair bit of coverage in the local press and this has been reflected in the number of local people who have visited us. We entertained the PSPS London Area group at the end of June. Among the group of visitors was Margaret Russell, who was able to see the galley where, while serving as the ship’s cook, her late husband played such an important part during the Dunkirk evacuation of 1940. It is now resplendent in bright white paint once more, although the original fittings and equipment have long since disappeared. Only a few weeks later Kingswear Castle visited Medway Queen, and passengers were able to step straight from one ship to the other! On one of the highest tides of the summer, KC was able to come right up alongside MQ. As the sponson decks of the two vessels are at an almost identical height, the transfer of passengers presented little problem and members of the MQPS were treated to the sight of their ship apparently thronged with people. It was certainly the greatest number that had boarded the Queen at one time for many a long year.

And 50 years ago… Kingswear Castle was delivered safely and is moored, lying opposite the Medway Queen, on the Medina River; Bristol Queen’s withdrawal with paddle damage at the end of August; Talisman sold to breakers; Ryde completed her 1967 summer sailings on September 25th. She did all that was required of her without trouble. Read more…