Kingswear Castle – Our great challenge – On the morning of June 16th 1971 Kingswear Castle set out from East Cowes under the tow of the diesel tug MT Dagger. Tug and tow arrived at Newhaven at 21.20 and left again at 11.55 next morning. They reached the Medway on 18th at about 11.00. The tow was transferred off Strood pier to the river tug Hobbitt, skipper John Oliver. The vessel is at present lying at the “petrol buoy” above Rochester Bridge and has been thoroughly cleaned out and fore and aft and opened up to a considerable extent. The engines and condenser have been opened up ready for inspection. There is no disguising the fact that a considerable amount of work of a serious structural nature will have to be carried out to make her sound and seaworthy. Our exciting Kingswear Castle project now being organised is our greatest task. She will bring great publicity to “the cause” and educate future generations to the sight, sound and smell of the old time paddle steamer.
Full load on the Humber – The Society’s first Humber Charter on August 15th was almost embarrassingly successful, Lincoln Castle leaving with 500 passengers and many unable to be accommodated. About 100 tickets were available at the gangway at New Holland but it became obvious that there were more intending passengers than tickets. At Corporation Pier, Hull there was a queue stretching the length of the connecting bridge and out into Nelson Street. Again secretary Chris Phillips had the galling task of explaining to as many as 200 that there were no tickets for them. The cruise was “Towards Spurn Head” and “towards” was as far as we got, Lincoln Castle turning between Immingham and Grimsby to retrace our steps. Anglia TV devoted a five minute spot to the charter with interviews with local people and film of the stokers at work feeding the coal fired boiler and also the engine room.
Paddling round the Isle of Arran – Members of the Scottish Branch had to be treated from shock when September 25th dawned fine and sunny! From every corner of Britain enthusiasts converged on Gourock and Waverley, and were to be seen boarding in magnificent autumn sunshine. MV Rover had been chartered to provide a connecting sailing from Craigendoran and came alongside carrying 118 passengers. Both vessels were flying the Society flag. Waverley departed with 396 on board and another 100 boarded at Largs – close to full complement. Music was provided by Charlie Harkin’s band. Waverley sailed through the Kyles of Bute to Brodick and then the route taken was south via Lamlash Bay, Holy Isle, north to Lochranza and back to Brodick. As always on PSPS charters there was a friendly atmosphere and when the tremendous amount of work is appreciated by hundreds of people (and they make it known) then everything seems worthwhile.
PS Princess Elizabeth – The former Red Funnel paddler is moored below Tower Bridge providing restaurant and convention centre facilities. She had lain almost derelict in Chichester Harbour following the collapse of a marina project. The engine and boiler had been removed, and the space has proved extremely valuable in her new role.
Bristol Channel – The severing of an 84 year link with the upper Severn Estuary by P & A Campbell is the sad news from these waters. Westward Ho had her share of bad luck during the season and we will be sorry to see a famous name disappear from service with this popular vessel. Principal sailings in 1972 will be by Balmoral on the more lucrative Swansea – Ilfracombe – Lundy service. Most eventful trip of the season must have been Balmoral’s from Bristol on August 10th. Capt. Wilde decided to wait at Ilfracombe on arrival as a Lundy landing in a strong north westerly would be uncomfortable. By 5.15pm the wind being more northerly, the vessel stood off in a freshening gale. By embarkation time observers were resigned to a coach trip back, but Balmoral, rolling heavily made the inner Stonebench berth at full tilt, turned with her bows against the concrete, embarked her passengers and made an expert dash for the open sea. The return trip was uneventful – but no high teas were served!