Summer 1995

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

Summer 1995

25 years ago… Three new ships?

On the Clyde

This season got off to a rousing start as Waverley, in full compliance with the new Department of Transport regulations, began her 1995 cruising programme with a well-supported four days of sailings on the Clyde. Getting the ship out for Easter had been no mean feat. Her arrival at the Garvel dry-dock had been delayed by the problems with Bells Bridge, which left her marooned upstream of it until the various parties involved with the bridge got their act together. So it was not until the Monday evening before her first sailing on Good Friday that Waverley arrived back at Anderston Quay, and anyone who has seen the state of a ship as it emerged from dry-dock will know that to get ready for sailing in three working days (and nights) was quite remarkable. The ship’s officers and crew, not to mention contractors such as the upholsterers deserve our gratitude for a difficult job well done. All hard work was rewarded by excellent loadings on all the Easter sailings with revenue up 56% on Waverley’s most recent Easter sailings and passenger journeys up 67%.

On the Medway

Kingswear Castle has emerged with hinged funnel, lowering mast and bow thruster which will allow her to use Rochester Pier for the new council subsidised riverbus service. These changes, while they may be decried by the dyed-in-the-wool purist, will enable her better to earn her keep, and have prevented a rival service being set up. The changes will enhance her performance with very little alteration to her appearance and character. The “new regulations” work was completed last year and we all hope for a bumper season as she expand her sphere of her operation.

In Bristol

Balmoral has had virtually all the “new regulation” work” including new life-saving appliances, emergency escapes and an additional bilge – pumping system. The ship has emerged smart and spruce with the after promenade deck now unencumbered by lifeboats. The 1995 season has opened on a high note.

And 50 years ago… PS Caledonia sold to breakers who intend to sell her as operational if possible; First year since 1812 that no paddler operates in the South West; Kingswear Castle boiler and machinery properly laid up; Balmoral being prepared for PSPS charter on May 2nd.

Plus 65 years ago… Southend Pier – 16 daily excursion steamer calls. Is this a record?

Sailings from Southend Pier after 1945.

[generic_table tblClass=”” tblHeadings=”||”]
10.00am | MV Royal Daffodil | Gravesend to Margate and French Coast cruise
11.00am | PS Medway Queen | Medway Towns to Herne Bay
| PS Golden Eagle2 | London to Clacton
| MV Rochester Queen | Medway Towns back to Chatham and Rochester
| PS Queen of Thanet | Medway Towns to Margate
12 noon | PS Royal Eagle2 | London to Margate and Ramsgate
1.00pm | PS Queen of Kent | Medway Towns to Nore Forts cruise
| MV Crested Eagle1 | London, back to London
| PS Medway Queen | Herne Bay, back to Herne Bay
4.30pm | PS Queen of Kent | Nore Forts to Medway Towns
5.00pm | PS Royal Eagle2 | Margate and Ramsgate to London
| PS Golden Eagle3 | Clacton to London
6.00pm | PS Queen of Thanet | Margate to Medway Towns
| MV Rochester Queen | Medway Towns to Medway Towns
7.00pm | PS Medway Queen | Herne Bay to Medway Towns
| MV Royal Daffodil | Margate and French Coast cruise to Gravesend


  1. Crested Eagle’s calls were occasional visits.
  2. MV Queen of the Channel took over the Clacton run after withdrawal of PS Golden Eagle.
  3. MV Royal Sovereign took over the London to Margate run after withdrawal of PS Royal Eagle.

This was the basic plan, but changes were made from time to time as needed. Medway Queen and Rochester Queen were interchangeable on the Herne Bay and Rochester runs. No passport Day excursions to France were not possible immediately after 1945, the two large paddlers, Queen of Kent and Queen of Thanet were soon sold, followed by withdrawal of PS Golden Eagle.

Last time we asked if anyone remembers sailing on Royal Eagle?

There was a response to the PSPS website feature “2011 Pictures of the month”.

Brig Rooke (Ms) wrote:
[quote]I was delighted to see your February picture of the paddle steamer Royal Eagle. I went on a day trip from London to Margate and back in 1946 or 1947, when I was 10 or 11 years old. My most vivid memory is of watching the huge pistons working and the paddle wheels turning round. At the time my hair was in plaits tied with white ribbons, and the purser (or some other official) stamped the ribbons with the name Royal Eagle. I was very proud of those ribbons, and kept them for many years. Thank you for bringing back fond memories.[/quote]

Brian Waters writes:
[quote]I sailed on the Royal Eagle twice, one occasion was when my grandfather took the whole family on a day trip to Ramsgate and the other was when I returned home from Boarding School at the beginning of the long summer holidays. I was up early and at Tower Pier for the 8am sailing for Southend. Being twice the tonnage of Waverley she was impressive but did look a bit lumpy in profile. She was certainly luxurious and like the two big motor ships she had she had Royal Loom chairs in the main deck saloon – very comfy. The main deck above extended out to the sides of the ship and passengers mounted steps over the paddle box to get from fore to aft on the main deck. This arrangement gave a large and roomy deck saloon and a roomy sundeck sheltered from the wind. Also it eliminated the narrow side decks.

When I was 4th Engineer on the GSN cargo ship Grebe I sailed with Ian Fairley who was Chief Engineer on the Royal Eagle. He told us that when coming alongside at Southend Pier with the fast running tides, the captain on the navigating bridge would only ring Stand By on the telegraph and left it to the engineers to decide when to reverse the engine. The second engineer would watch the approach to the pier and shout NOW! when the ship reached a certain part of the pier. Another that he told us was that when the Royal Eagle and Golden Eagle had disembarked passengers they were put on to mooring buoys for the night. The engineers would then spend two hours testing all the nuts on the paddle wheels for tightness. By then pubs were closed but the London Police laid on two squad cars to take them to a pub with a late licence so that they could have a drink ashore.[/quote]

Compiled by Guy Hundy from Paddle Wheels No. 140 Summer 1995 and No. 40 Summer 1970.