Wessex & Dart Branch Newsletter – Winter 2014

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

Wessex & Dart Branch Newsletter – Winter 2014

Many members will have been aware that we have been host to the Waverley for a number of weeks. Following her season operating along the River Thames, she made a scheduled bunkering call at Weymouth only to become stormbound. After, around, a week at Weymouth she relocated to Southampton for operational reasons berthing, first, in the Eastern Docks as a close neighbour of Shieldhall and latterly at 106 berth in the Western Docks. A series of Atlantic fronts rolling had failed to give sufficient respite for the ship to safely make the passage north. She eventually sailed arriving safely back at Glasgow on Sunday November 23rd.

The branch programme of winter meetings opened at the Holiday Inn, Southampton on Saturday 1st November when an excellent attendance enjoyed a robust presentation by Chris Phillips focussing, primarily, on the success of Kingswear Castle on the Dart and her important role in Devon tourism.

Wightlink has announced some changes to its fleet from summer 2015 reflecting reduced demand for its services. With customer statistics revealing that the number of people using the Yarmouth-Lymington route has fallen by almost 15% in the last four years, Wightlink will re-locate one of the three W-class ships that operates in the Western Solent to the Fishbourne-Portsmouth route in early 2015. The vessel will replace St Helen which will be retired.

As the year draws to a close we can reflect on a very positive 2014. The Kingswear Castle received awards and plaudits for her valuable contribution to tourism, the Waverley made a successful return to Poole and, following many hours of dedicated work by her owners, the Monarch was successfully re-launched from Wareham. Looking ahead to 2015 the branch has some exciting opportunities planned. However, these can only succeed with your continued support. I have highlighted, below, some of the events and outings we can look forward to.

Dates for Your Diary 2015

(The usual, full and detailed programme will be printed and circulated with the spring edition of “Paddle Wheels”)


Saturday 24th January

The Coastal Cruising Association have arranged a five-hour Solent Cruise on Saturday, 24th January 2015. Depart Ocean Village 11.30 aboard Blue Funnel Cruises Ashleigh R. The itinerary will reflect the weather and sea conditions. It is hoped to cruise down Southampton Water, through the eastern Solent and into Portsmouth Harbour towards Fareham. A basket lunch of Sausage & Chips will be served (with vegetarian alternative) and is included in the fare of £32. Full details may be obtained from your secretary. PSPS members are invited to join the cruise that should prove very interesting. Ashleigh R is a purpose-built pleasure boat with ample covered accommodation, heating and a well stocked refreshment bar.


Saturday 28th February

We are indebted to Chris Phillips who has arranged a members visit to the Kingswear Castle on the slip-way at the DSRRBC shipyard in Old Mill Creek. Numbers for the visit are strictly limited to twelve. Anyone wishing to attend must register with Chris without delay. It should be noted that the visit will be to a shipyard environment and is unsuited to those with physical disabilities. For tickets, please contact Chris: The Penthouse, Leighton Mount, 72 Victoria Avenue, Shanklin, Isle Of Wight PO37 6LY. Access to the shipyard is by road, only. There is no public transport link.


Wednesday 18th March

At the Granary Restaurant, Wareham (adjacent to the town bridge) at 10.30. The operators of the Monarch have invited anyone who might be prepared to support the venture in a voluntary capacity. From crewing, quayside rope-handling to marketing. If you can spare a few hours and would enjoy being a part of this delightful operation, please come along and learn all that is planned for 2015.


Saturday 18th April

The Flavel Theatre, Dartmouth, will play host to long-serving PSPS member and renowned paddle steamer authority, Richard Clammer who will be giving a presentation entitled “Devon Steamers” commencing at 14.00. It is hoped to co-ordinate the meeting with a 12.00 sailing aboard the Kingswear Castle.


Sunday 3rd May

Southampton. Cunard 175 years celebrations with the ‘Three Queens’ sailing plus the International Ship Show.


Thursday 21st May – Sunday 24th May

Waverley 40 years in preservation celebration cruises. Please see enclosed copy of basic timetable. For full details and fares, please refer Waverley Excursions in the usual manner. EARLY BOOKING IS RECOMMENDED.


Saturday 30th May – Monday 1st June

The “OLD GAFFERS” festival at Yarmouth. This delightful event goes from strength to strength and is recommended to anyone with an interest in nautical matters and history.


Saturday 13th June (Provisional date)

Special sailing by the Kingswear Castle in conjunction with the Steamboat Association. This will be a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the paddler’s return to service along the river Medway following restoration by the PSPS. Full details to follow.


Monday 24th August (Provisional date)

SS Shieldhall. Wessex & Dart Branch nominated cruise from Poole Quay to Southampton Docks. Full details will appear in a subsequent newsletter.


Sunday 18th October

Branch nominated outing to the Isle Of Wight Bus Museum Autumn Running day.


September / October (Date and times to be confirmed upon receipt of 2015 cruise programme)

Branch coach excursion from Bournemouth & Southampton to Gravesend to board P.S. Waverley for an upriver cruise along the Thames, through Tower Bridge and return. For this excursion to take place, sufficient support from, both, the membership family and friends must be forthcoming. Expressions of interest are, therefore, invited at this early stage. The cost would be ‘coach only’ in order members holding ‘ Friends Of Waverley’ or Commodore tickets would be entitled to use them on the cruise. Other passengers would qualify for a group discounted rate. Anyone who is interested in supporting the outing, please contact your secretary. (Details at foot of the newsletter). Should there be insufficient support forthcoming to warrant operating a coach, a rail alternative via Waterloo and Waterloo East will be offered.


Saturday 24th October

The Wessex & Dart branch are, once again, proudly hosting the PSPS National AGM. The venue will be the Royal Dart Yacht Club, at Kingswear. It is planned to operate a river cruise aboard Kingswear Castle in conjunction with the AGM Clearly, the committee are keen there is a good representation of the branch membership in attendance. The meeting coincides with the Dartmouth Food Festival making the day attractive, perhaps, to spouses and relatives who may not be qualified to attend the AGM. With this in mind, it is hoped to operate a coach connection from Bournemouth & Dorchester. However, this can only work with your full support. We can advertise this as a day in Dartmouth so if you know of anyone who fancies a lovely day out in South Devon with a river cruise and a visit to the food festival, please let them have details. Again, expressions of interest are invited. Without your support, this excursion cannot take place.

The Chairman and committee join me in wishing you all a joyous Christmas, Happy New Year and good sailing in 2015. See you aboard !

Peter Lamb signature

Wessex & Dart Branch