PS Freshwater and the Birth of PSPS

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

PS Freshwater and the Birth of PSPS

The beginnings of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society are directly linked to the Paddle Steamer Freshwater of 1927.

During a sailing on PS Freshwater (Freshwater II) in the summer of 1959 PSPS Founder, the late Professor Alan Robinson, heard from the crew that the ship was due to be withdrawn from service. He was concerned at the increasing rate at which paddle steamers were being withdrawn and scarped.

Alan therefore wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph which was published on 17th September 1959. By late September expressions of interest had been received – a Society would form!

Alan Robinson’s letter – Daily Telegraph 17th September 1959.


Paddle Steamer Freshwater was built in 1927 at Cowes, Isle of Wight, for the Southern Railway for service between Lymington and Yarmouth. She would also undertake some excursion work in the Solent. On the introduction of a new car ferry, which was to bear her name, the suffix II was added. Pictures towards the end of the paddler’s career show the “II”.

Keith Abraham gave a number of his slides to the PSPS Collection before his death last year. Keith captured Freshwater on several occasions, the following images were taken by Keith.

Freshwater in late August 1955.

As Freshwater II.

Freshwater at Lymington Pier.

Freshwater II arrives at Lymington carrying holiday-makers returning from the Isle of Wight. This image was taken on a summer Saturday in 1959. Passengers will disembark the paddler to join a train at Lymington Pier to make the journey to Brockenhurst for onward journeys. Even in her final season the “SR” for Southern Railway remained on her paddleboxes.

On the same occasion in 1959 with Freshwater II berthing at Lymington.

The car ferry Freshwater – the modern replacement for the withdrawn paddle steamer.

The PSPS Collection has over 50,000 items relating to the development of the paddle and pleasure steamers that plied the coats of the UK from the 1850’s to the present day. It comprises of written, printed, photographic and digital records as well as physical artefacts.

The aim of the collection is to educate the public in the historic significance of paddle steamers in the Nations maritime and industrial heritage. Although the collection is not open for the public viewing a few items can be viewed on this website.

We welcome further donations to the PSPS Collection. Please contact the Archive Trustee here.

Sixty Years of Paddle Steamer Preservation – The PSPS Story

A large format, 176 page, hardback book printed in full colour on high quality paper. Illustrated with over 200 rare and previously unpublished photographs, mostly in colour, depicting a wonderful array of paddlers from the 1950s onwards, as well as special moments in the careers of Waverley and Kingswear Castle and many significant characters and events in the Society’s history.

The book tells the remarkable story of the PSPS from its formation in 1959; recalls the 1960s and 70s when members were able to charter and sail on board a wide variety of surviving paddlers; records the purchase and restoration of our own two steamers ; and examines the Society’s close links with other paddle steamer preservation groups.

Compiled from the PSPS Archive and the memories of those most closely involved, the book contains much fascinating information which will inform, surprise and amuse even long-standing members.

This splendid book can be purchased online for just £25 – free postage.