A Week in the Life of Consul 1960

Consul backing out of Lulworth Cove .


Consul started her 1960 season on Saturday 4th June running a ferry service between Weymouth and Portland Naval Dockyard for Navy Days. Her last scheduled trips of the season were on Thursday 15th September with a 2pm departure from Weymouth for a trip round Portland Harbour followed at 3pm with ” A Cruise Towards the Bill of Portland”.

That was a season of just over 14 weeks made up of 105 operating days. There were no days off built into the timetable. Consul was rostered to run seven days a week and Cosens provided no relief crew. Captain Iliffe and his team were expected to be aboard every single day with Cosens taking the view, like many other operators, that the winter is a long time in which to take time off. In the summer you had to pack in all the trips you could while the business was there.

Let’s take a snapshot of a week of Consul’s sailings in August 1960.

Sunday 14th August 1960

2pm Leave Weymouth for one hour “Cruise Round HM Ships and Merchant Shipping in Portland Harbour”.

3pm Leave Weymouth for “Tea Cruise to the Shambles Lightship.” Due back 4.45pm.

7.30pm Leave Weymouth for “Special Jazz Jamboree Evening Cruise” round Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay. Due back 9.30pm.

Monday 15th August

10.45am Leave Weymouth for a “Coffee Cruise across Weymouth Bay towards Osmington and Ringstead thence to Portland Harbour.” Due back 12.15pm.

2pm Leave Weymouth for one hour “Cruise Round HM Ships and Merchant Shipping in Portland Harbour”.

3pm Leave Weymouth for Lulworth Cove (4pm – 5pm). Due back 6pm.

Tuesday 16th August

9.30am Leave Weymouth for Swanage (11.30am) for Lulworth Cove (1.45pm – 3pm) for Swanage (5pm) for Weymouth (7.45pm).

8pm Leave Weymouth for “A Grand Illumination Cruise to view Weymouth’s Fairylike Illuminations from the best vantage point obtainable.” Due back 9.30pm.

Wednesday 17th August

10.30am Leave Weymouth for Lulworth Cove (11.30am) for Weymouth (12.30pm).

2pm Leave Weymouth for one hour “Cruise Round HM Ships and Merchant Shipping in Portland Harbour”.

3pm Leave Weymouth for Lulworth Cove (4pm – 5pm) for Weymouth (6pm).

7.30pm Leave Weymouth for “Cruise to the Shambles Lightship.” Due back 9.30pm.

Thursday 18th August

10am Leave Weymouth for Swanage (12.30pm) for Bournemouth (1.15pm – 2.30pm) for “Cruise Towards the Needles Lighthouse” for Bournemouth (4pm) for Swanage (4.45pm) and Weymouth (7.45pm).

8.30pm Leave Weymouth for “Special Evening Cruise Through Portland Harbour Viewing Shipping and HM Dockyard.” Due back 9.30pm.

Consul A/S Bournemouth Pier circa 1960.

Friday 19th August

10.30am Leave Weymouth for Lulworth Cove (11.30am) for Weymouth (12.30pm).

2pm Leave Weymouth for one hour “Cruise Round HM Ships and Merchant Shipping in Portland Harbour”.

3pm Leave Weymouth for Lulworth Cove (4pm – 5pm) for Weymouth (6pm).

Saturday 20th August

2pm Leave Weymouth for one hour “Cruise Round HM Ships and Merchant Shipping in Portland Harbour”.

3pm Leave Weymouth for “Tea Cruise to the Shambles Lightship.” Due back 4.45pm.

Steamer Notice for Consul August 1960.

So in this week there was one day sailing from Weymouth to Swanage then bringing passengers from there and from Bournemouth (brought to Swanage by Monarch) back to Lulworth Cove, one sailing to Swanage and Bournemouth from where a short afternoon cruise towards the Needles was offered. There were landing trips to Lulworth Cove from Weymouth on three days, one hour trips round Portland every day except when she was away at Swanage and Bournemouth and there were one or two afternoon cruises either to Portland Bill or to the Shambles Lightship as well. And after the day was done evening cruises were rostered for four days each week. In addition on Fridays 15th and 29th July and 12th and 26th August there were day trips advertised leaving Weymouth 9.45am or 10am for Swanage (12.15pm) and Totland Bay Isle of Wight (2pm – 4pm) for Swanage (5.45pm) and Weymouth (8.30pm).

Also bear in mind that Consul started and finished her days at a berth up Weymouth Harbour alongside Trinity Wharf near the Town Bridge. Every morning she backed down the harbour to pick up her sailings from the Pleasure Pier about half and hour before departure time. And every evening when her days were done she paddled back up the harbour again to her overnight berth.

The only days or time the crew had off were when cruises were curtailed or abandoned due to the weather. If the wind was more than around 20 knots then the trips to Lulworth Cove, Portland Bill and Shambles Lightship were replaced by a cruise in the more sheltered “Partially Smooth Waters” of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour and the trips outside Weymouth Bay to Swanage, Bournemouth or Totland Bay, Isle of Wight were cancelled altogether.

Rain also stopped play. Passengers just did not want to sail for pleasure cruises from Weymouth on paddle steamers with limited covered accommodation when it was raining. Cosens knew this so on rainy days the crew mustered as usual, Consul was prepared for her trips as usual, but if the rain looked like persisting all day then all the trips were cancelled and the crew given the rest of the day off.

To today’s eyes these long seasons with long days with few or no days off may look daunting but that is just how it was. Crews knew this and in the main Cosens retained stable crews who appeared and reappeared year after year on their steamers. Key individuals like captains and engineers were kept on throughout the year as well as other crew members who were useful to them in their engineering and ship repair works in the winters. But a lot of the crew were seasonal. They did other things in the winter and looked forward to returning to spend their summers afloat aboard the paddle steamers each summer.

Looked at another way the passengers paid for these trips. To them sailing to Lulworth Cove, Swanage, Bournemouth or whatever was a one off pleasure every now and again for which they paid good money. The crew, on the other hand, had the same pleasure of enjoying these same trips seven days a week, week in and week out, and were paid for the privilege and pleasure of the doing of it. What could be better than that? A little slice of heaven really. At least that is how I always looked at it as the long hours ticked by each season during my long paddle steamer career.

John Megoran

John Megoran

September 2021
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