Summer 1989


Balmoral misses spring sailings – The early season programme of cruises in the South East before and immediately following the May Day Bank Holiday had to be cancelled when re-alignment of one of the engines was found to be necessary as a result of re-plating carried out during dry docking at Bristol. The fitting of new plates near the stern caused a slight alteration to the hull shape and resulted in a slight distortion of one propeller shaft. The defect came to light after the vessel left Albert Dry Dock in Bristol City Docks following an overhaul. Time had to be allowed for stresses to stabilize and there was no alternative but to call off sailings due to begin on 28th April with a historic first visit to Rye. Balmoral’s Easter loadings on the Bristol Channel were seriously affected by the weather. On Easter Saturday only 150 were carried all day and only 100 sailed down channel on Sunday morning. On Easter Monday sunshine brought out the crowds again and there was a small surplus over running costs.

Clifton Smith-Cox outside a P&A Campbell booking office on the South coast during the late 1960s.PSPS Collection

Bristol Channel branch dinner – The second annual dinner took place on 5th March. The evening was another outstanding success. Our guest speaker, Mr Smith-Cox commenced by saying that his early interest in paddle steamers was probably kindled by seeing Devonia returning from war service in 1919 when he was eight, and he was greatly encouraged by Capt. Peter Campbell. He delved into many aspects of running a fleet of paddle steamers before they were finally overcome by the motor car. He has acquired over the years a large and comprehensive collection of paddle steamer memorabilia. He concluded by mentioning that our ships are providing enormous enjoyment to thousands of people and that we owe a brobdingnagian debt of gratitude to Terry Sylvester and Waverley’s captain.

Medway Queen – One excursion out into the creek highlighted the problem of launching a boat into Damhead Creek at anything other than the top of the tide. A few hours’ work provided the answer as, with great difficulty, one of the ship’s davits was persuaded to turn again. Corroded solid for goodness knows how long, it was most reluctant to shift to begin with, but is now quite free again. It means that boats can be stored on board and dropped easily over the side when there is water.

New Year with the St. Killian – The Bristol Channel Branch New Year cruise party to Rosslare and Cherbourg assembled at Cardiff Central to join the Merthyr to Fishguard Harbour ‘sprinter’ and duly sailed aboard the St. Brendan at 15.10. The party enjoyed visits to the bridge and engine room. Tuskar Rock brought back memories of cruising these waters aboard Waverley. Our party made their various ways to the Rosslare Hotel for dinner prior to joining the St. Killian II for the New Year cruise to Cherbourg. We departed Rosslare at 22.35. Next morning found the vessel making good progress with Land’s End passed about 06.00 and the Lizard at 07.30. Around 14.30 we were about 6 miles north of Alderney and shortly the approach to Cherbourg commenced. After a 3½ hour visit to the French port St. Killian departed at 20.55. At midnight the passengers and crew were summoned on deck, St. Killian giving seventeen long blasts on her whistle, eight for the old year, eight for the new plus one long blast. Next morning was fine and warm. After a visit to the bridge we arrived back at Rosslare about 14.00. Special thanks must go to the officers and crew of the St. Killian II, especially PSPS member Michael Sullivan, who is second officer aboard the Irish Ferries flagship.

And 50 years ago… St. Trillo opened the season on Maunday Thursday; On the Clyde all four paddlers are ready; Consul has undergone an extensive overhaul. Read more…

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