Help from the Royal Engineers

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

Royal Engineer volunteers on 29th October loading the renovated shaft and hub assembly for floating round to the ship.|P Tullett

To move the renovated shaft/hub assemblies from the storage shed and on to KC required a bit of help. Each assembly weighing about 6 cwt had to be transported across the mud (or water, depending on the state of the tide) to the ship. The shaft then had to be positioned on its bearing bracket with the inboard end guided through the hull aperture. One of the volunteers approached the Royal Engineers from Chattenden Barracks who tackled the job by floating the shafts round at high tide and lifting with special tackle erected on each paddle box.

Royal Engineers lifting the components aboard.|P Tullett
Bringing the shaft aboard and lowering into paddle box.|P Tullett

They were also able to lift aboard the Worthington circulating pump which had been delivered following its completed overhaul. The pump was placed on its bed and the sea water pipework including the new bottom valve re-fitted.

“Gently does it”. Loading the Worthington circulating pump.|P Tullett

Placing the shafts enabled assembly of the wheels themselves to commence. Woodwork around the paddle boxes is proceeding apace and the enthusiasm of working parties has been such that full Saturday and Sunday working continued right into December – with some Mondays as well! Special lighting was erected for evening work. With paddle wheels back and new paddle box vents being positioned – indeed the starboard side was completed – KC took the appearance of a real paddle steamer once again after months of looking somewhat forlorn without visible means of propulsion.

New davits and steering gear were delivered from Babcock Power in December and the assembly of the rudder bearing and steering quadrant completed making it possible to finish the rest of the job. The steering mechanism consists mainly of chains and wire ropes linked directly to the wheelhouse.

Restoration Log Book

The log book records a London Branch meeting held aboard on Saturday 10th October. Distinguished members attending included Pat and June Bushell, Margaret Russell, Basil Craggs, Jeremy Gold (1st visit to KC?) and Joe Marshallsay.

Cash Crisis

The cash situation was precarious and purchases of supplies of timber had to be halted – a pity because there was a lot of deck replacement to be done. In particular new sponson decks.

Society Funds were limited and in order to keep the decking going people were invited to purchase deck timber at 50p per foot, and a large plan of the decks was prepared for display. There are fourteen planks on each sponson, each about 70 feet long which is about 1000 feet of timber. The total replacement eventually required was in the region of 7,000 feet.

A good source of second hand pitch pine timber was found. The wood had to be converted of course – i.e. machined to the correct size, and the overall cost of the ready to use 3.5″ x 2″ plank was about 50p per foot.

The traditional Christmas Party was on Saturday 19th December 1981. Long standing volunteers attending included Colin Harrison, Brian Waters, Mike Rogers, Roger Toft, Pat and June Bushell, and John Foat. Among prominent PSPS supporters were Basil Craggs, Margaret Russell, Joe Marshallsay and Arthur Rickner.