Spring 1972


Society news – Annual draw – 213 members created a record result through the sale of 5,325 tickets, which has brought in a gross total of £266, the profit going to the Kingswear Castle fund. The individual Branch efforts were London £166, Wessex £48, Bristol £25 and Scottish £33. The draw took place on the paddle steamer Medway Queen on November 20th.

TS Duchess of Hamilton.

Farewell to the ‘Duchess’ – TS Duchess of Hamilton was built in 1932 by Harland and Wolff – a one class ship with direct drive steam turbines turning triple screws to give a speed of more than 20 knots. The ‘Hamilton, then was the last of the typical Clyde turbines. In profile she was not very different from TS King Edward (1901), the first commercial turbine steamer in the world. Perhaps the ‘Hamilton’s finest moment of the 1960s was in September 1969 when for one Saturday she regained her former kudos as the CSPCo’s sea going excursion steamer on a special charter from Ayr to Stranraer. She retired two days later with serious propellor-shaft trouble, but to everyone’s surprise she reappeared in the 1970 season. The seventies , however, brought new standards. MV Caledonia introduced far greater passenger comfort beside which the Hamilton appeared rather tawdrey. She was quaint now, not elegant. An application is reported to have been made to Glasgow City Corporation to establish the Duchess of Hamilton on the north bank of the Clyde at Anderston Quay.

‘Caley’ heads south – After lying dormant for 22 months in the shipbreaking yard of Arnott Young of Dalmuir, the former Clyde paddler Caledonia was moved on November 15th. Old Caledonia (as she was renamed in 1970) had deteriorated badly but great care was taken to ensure that the machinery was properly lubricated in case a buyer be found. At about 7.45 am the Old Caledonia made the first move in her new adventure. Once into the channel the tugs took her in tow at about 7 knots. At 9.45 she arrived at Lamont’s yard, her first visit since last annual overhaul. It was the intention to “slip” the vessel on arrival, but conditions were bad and she lay alongside until the following Wednesday morning, by which time the weather had improved and she was safely winched out of the water. The purpose of this operation was to ensure that the hull was sound, and to have the hull shotblasted and painted brown. As Bass Charrington are to have her moored at Cleopatra’s Needle on the Thames, it is necessary to cut 7ft off her funnel and remove both masts in order that she can negotiate the bridges. These items will be replaced on arrival at the Thames. Although there are many who are disappointed that this fine steamer will never sail again, we must be grateful for the initiative in spending money on this old ship. Most of all, the Society must be grateful to Messrs Arnott Young who said they had no intention of scrapping her. Mr Scott, MD, said “It has been a long and painstaking effort to keep her afloat – there was a time when it looked as if we would have to scrap her – however we decided to keep her while there was a chance she could be saved”.

Thames & Medway – The Swanage Queen made history by making the first trips from the Medway to Southend since the withdrawal of the Medway Queen. She was chartered for three days by Don Rose. It is fitting that this revival of trips should accompany the arrival of Kingswear Castle. A further item of interest from the Medway is that the Commodore Queen, formerly the New Medway S.P.Co’s Rochester Queen, has returned to the river. Converted from a landing craft after the war, she operated on the Medway until 1956. From 1961 she ran between Guernsey and Sark but was withdrawn in 1969. After a refit at Cherbourg she arrived at Chatham on 11th September. It is intended that she will be resold, and adverts for her have quoted £35,000.

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