15th June 1937 Duke of Devonshire

Duke of Devonshire was scheduled to make her first trip of the 1937 season on Tuesday 15th June with a departure from Torquay at 10.30am for the three and a half hour or so cruise along the Devon coast and round Start Point to Plymouth. Departure from Plymouth was scheduled for 4.15pm and the fare was 5/6. On her return to Torquay that day the Duke was rostered for an "Evening Cruise in Torbay" leaving at 8.15pm, back at 10pm and priced at 1/-

Duke of Devonshire steamer notice 1937.

Duke of Devonshire steamer notice 1937.

Built in 1896 the Duke of Devonshire and her sister the Duchess of Devonshire of 1894 were the mainstay of paddle steamer excursions along the Devon Coast from Exmouth and Torquay from the mid 1890s up to the 1930s when competition from smaller and more economical motor launches running local trips and the general economic depression dented their trade. This difficult commercial situation was not helped by both Cosens of Weymouth and  P & A Campbell trying to muscle in on their market from Torquay at various times. The Duchess was first withdrawn in 1930 leaving the Duke to carry on alone until 1932 when she too was withdrawn and sold first to P & A Campbell who then resold her for service from in Cork in Ireland. The Duchess re-appeared on her old routes in 1933 in private ownership but survived for just two seasons eventually coming to grief on the beach at Sidmouth in August 1934.

For 1935 there were no paddle steamer trips from Torquay so it was good news when the Duke was brought back to revive her old excursions by Mr Alexander Taylor in 1936. The following year the Duke was re-registered in Southampton, given a red, instead of buff funnel and was run "under the personal supervision of Capt J R Radley" according to the steamer notices. This operation was not a success and in 1938 the Duke was sold to Cosens of Weymouth.

On the trip to Plymouth on 15th June 1937 all that lay ahead and none of the passengers aboard that day could have foreseen that Duke of Devonshire would be given a new lease of life and renamed the Consul would remain in operational condition based at Weymouth for a further twenty seven years right up to 1964.

John Megoran

Not Yet a PSPS Member?

Join us today and help us support our two Paddle Steamers - Waverley and Kingswear Castle. In addition PSPS members gain access to exclusive benefits including our full colour magazine, 'Paddle Wheels', every three months in addition to gaining access to discount tickets for Waverley and Kingswear Castle. Membership starts from only £10 per year. For full details and to join on-line today go to www.paddlesteamers.org/join.

Join the PSPS and help preserve our maritime heritage for present and future generations