Building a Gangway

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

For the first part of January access to the ship was by means of ladders and duckboards. No way aboard at high tide except by boat. Building an access way became the first priority now for the volunteers, because of the obvious difficulties including loss of on board power supply.

Fixing the gangway. Positioning the timbers with Nick Knight in the foreground (blue overalls).|Pat Bushell
Finished job, but handrail to be done.|Pat Bushell

KC benefited from a secure site at the Medway Bridge Marina. The ship was mainly unattended on weekdays, but a watchful eye was kept by Machin Knight & Sons within whose jurisdiction the berth and slipway were located. Deliveries of materials were taken in by MK&S ready to be signed for by PSPS members on Saturday. Nick Knight was usually on the premises on Saturday mornings and whilst willing to assist in case of emergency or serious problem, it was made clear that he had his own business to attend to, and sometimes casual requests received a somewhat curt response!

From Paddle Wheels No. 56

Fortunately we did not have to go to the trouble of extending the staging over the (barge) timbers. An exploratory visit early in January at low tide proved access could be gained by duckboards and a ladder over the stern. The Medway mud is a real joy to experience and during operations we nearly lost Gary Evans, one of our work leaders. Gary had to be hauled out of the mud by John Carlton and myself but some work aboard was carried out, June Bushell managing some cleaning and oiling while sister Pat did some preparation on one of the wheelhouse stairs — and finally took this piece of ship home to finish off.

Restoration Log Book – Saturday 26 January 1974

  • Made gangway from two 9x3x35′ timbers from Mr. Knight’s lighter, plus hatch covers for planking in.
  • Planking in of landing stage to be extended by replacing with longer planks and providing supports.
  • Gangway to be shifted (shore end) to the higher level.
  • Today was exactly the 365th day since starting work on KC and mainbrace was spliced with sherry to commemorate the occasion!

Work is now focussed on and in the ship. Keeping the weather at bay is absorbing effort with tasks like caulking, rigging the awning, covering exposed areas such as companionways and engine room skylight. The gangway is strengthened and fitted with handropes to improve safe access. A power supply with switched outlets is installed.

Leaking decks are still causing problems, not the least of which is the task of pumping out the bilges at fairly regular intervals. The water is temporarily kept at bay by plastic sheeting fixed to the decks. In preparation for the AGM visitors on 23rd March, further work is carried on the gangway, the only means of access.

From Paddle Wheels No. 57

The forward saloon has been cleared of all spare timbers and large items that do not belong forward, and lino laid on the soles after first painting the bilges. The galley is now reasonably presentable and the new Calor gas stove has been installed to good effect for frying eggs and bacon for the volunteers who have spent whole weekends on the job at no extra cost by sleeping aboard (usually on the Port seating which is nice and wide). A time saving idea has been the running of an electric “Main” along the starboard side interior of the ship with sockets in each compartment. This means that after plugging in the land line inside the after saloon door, convenient short- distance connections can be made anywhere along the vessel.