On Thursday 26th August 1937 Duke of Devonshire was scheduled to leave Torquay (10.45am) for the 17 nautical mile run along the beautiful Devon Coast passing the Ore Stone, Babbacombe, Oddicombe, Teignmouth, Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton for Sidmouth (12.45pm) where she put her bow up onto the beach to unload passengers and load some more.
She was due away from Sidmouth (1pm) for Torquay (2.45pm) before setting off again (3pm) for a two hour afternoon cruise passing Brixham and Berry Head to view St Mary’s Bay.
On her return she was away again from Torquay (5pm) for a non landing “Special Cheap Evening Cruise to Sidmouth” (7.45pm) where she unloaded those she had collected and picked up those she had set down in the morning before returning to Torquay (9.30pm).
The Devon Dock Pier and Steamship Company which built the Duke in 1896 and ran her until 1933 described Sidmouth in their guidebook in the following glowing terms: “It was at Sidmouth that the Duke of Kent – the father of Queen Victoria – died in 1820 and the house is still to be seen where Her Majesty was brought up as a child. Sidmouth is becoming known more as a winter resort and possesses many excellent hotels. At very low water, steamer passengers are obliged to land and embark here by rowing boats, but usually the steamer is able to run her bows on the beach as at Salterton”.
During this week’s sailings from Torquay the Duke ran two day trips, one to Plymouth on the Tuesday and one to Lyme Regis on the Sunday with morning, afternoon and evening cruises rostered on the other days with the afternoon landing destinations including Dartmouth, Dittisham, and Slapton Sands. The latter is described in the guide book as “one of the most charming excursions the steamer makes from the point of view of the lover of nature. The famous “Ley” is about two miles long and the finest pike fishing in England is here obtainable. Botanists will be interested to know that the first seakale eaten in England came from the beach at Slapton over 100 years ago”.
The most expensive fare this week was the day return to Plymouth which came in at 5/6 (£19 today). The day trip to Sidmouth was 4/- (£13.75) with the cheapest fare for the one and a quarter hour evening cruises at 1/- (£3.50 today). These were inexpensive trips targeted at less well off market segments.
1937 was the last season that the Duke ran from Torquay. The following year she was bought by Cosens, renamed Consul and continued in service from her new base in Weymouth until 1964 after which she returned to Dartmouth in 1965 under her original name as an accommodation ship for a sailing school. She was scrapped in Southampton in 1968.