A Week in the Life of Monarch 1960

Monarch approaching Bournemouth Pier.


Let’s take a snapshot of a week in the life of Cosens’s Monarch running from Bournemouth in August 1960 and see what she was rostered to be up to:

Friday 5th August 1960: Leave Poole (9.15am) for Bournemouth (10.15am – 10.45am) for Swanage (11.30am) for Bournemouth (12.15pm). She then lay alongside Bournemouth Pier until (2.30pm) for Swanage (3.15pm) for Bournemouth (4.15pm) for Swanage (5pm) for Bournemouth (5.45pm). She then lay alongside Bournemouth Pier until (8pm) when she set off for a “Late Night New Orleans Jazz Cruise – the River Boat Shuffle – with Gerry Brown’s Jazzmen” due alongside Poole Quay (11.30pm).

Saturday 6th August: Day off with Embassy running the Swanage service.

Sunday 7th August: Leave Poole (1pm) for Bournemouth (2pm – 2.30pm) for Swanage (3.15pm) for Bournemouth (4.15pm) for Swanage (5pm) for Bournemouth (5.45pm – 6pm) for Swanage (6.45pm) and Poole Quay (7.45pm).

Monday 8th, Friday 12th & Saturday 13th : Leave Poole (9.15am) for Bournemouth (10.15am – 10.45am) for Swanage (11.30am) for Bournemouth (12.15pm). She then lay alongside Bournemouth Pier until (2.30pm) for Swanage (3.15pm) for Bournemouth (4.15pm) for Swanage (5pm) for Bournemouth (5.45pm – 6pm) for Swanage (6.45pm) and Poole Quay (7.45pm).

Tuesday 9th: Leave Poole (8am) for Swanage (9am) for Bournemouth (10am – 10.45am) for Swanage (11.30am) for Bournemouth (12.15pm) for Swanage (1.15pm) for Bournemouth (2pm – 2.30pm) for Swanage (3.15pm) for Bournemouth (4.15pm) for Swanage (5pm) for Bournemouth (5.45pm – 6.30pm) for Swanage (7.15pm) and Poole Quay (8.15pm).

Wednesday 10th: Leave Poole (9.15am) for Bournemouth (10.15am – 10.45am) for Swanage for Bournemouth (12.15pm) for Swanage (1.15pm) for Bournemouth (2pm – 2.30pm) for Swanage (3.15pm) for Bournemouth (4.15pm) for Swanage (5pm) for Bournemouth (5.45pm – 6pm) for Totland Bay (7.30pm) for Bournemouth (9pm) and Poole (10pm).

Thursday 11th: Leave Poole (9.15am Bournemouth (10.15am – 10.45am) for Swanage (11.30am) for Bournemouth (12.15pm) for Swanage (1.15pm) for Bournemouth (2pm – 2.30pm) for Swanage (3.15pm) for Bournemouth (4.15pm) for Swanage (5pm) for Bournemouth (5.45pm – 6.30pm) for Swanage (7.15pm) and Poole (8.15pm).

Monarch A/S Weymouth Pleasure Pier, February 1961.Dorothy Megoran

So that was a schedule made up predominantly of running backwards and forwards between Bournemouth Swanage with one day off a fortnight. She started most days running directly from Poole to Bournemouth but to balance up the operating hours with Embassy ran via Swanage on at least one day and sometimes two days a week.

The 10.45am departure from Bournemouth connected at Swanage at 11.30am Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with a coach tour of the “Beauty Spots of Dorset” with stops of an hour and a half or so in Weymouth and Lulworth Cove.

And on this Tuesday also connected with Consul at Swanage (11.30am) freshly arrived from Weymouth which took intending passengers on to Lulworth Cove giving about one hour ashore. In earlier years Consul brought passengers up from Weymouth for Swanage and Bournemouth or Totland Bay on days with this Lulworth connection with Monarch taking her Bournemouth bound passenger onwards or Embassy taking those for Totland Bay. However Consul was not a fast ship and was apt to be late into Swanage. This didn’t really matter for the Lulworth passengers. They could just wait on Swanage Pier until Consul arrived but it did matter for Monarch‘s scheduled departure at 11.30am back to Bournemouth. If Consul was late and she had to wait then so did her Bournemouth bound passengers too. So in 1960 Consul’s 9.30am departure from Weymouth was scheduled to run only as far as Swanage with no mention made of Bournemouth for these connections.

On the evening of Friday August 5th Monarch ran the Jazz Cruise for the first and only time in the 1960 season. Her Class III Passenger Certificate to be outside the Categorised Waters Limits was valid only until one hour after sunset so by 10pm she would have had to be back in Poole Harbour for a slow crawl up to Poole Quay (11.30pm). In subsequent weeks Embassy was rostered for a similar but rebranded “Showboat Cruise” on Thursdays with “Dancing on deck 8pm to 10pm”. So no dancing after 10pm once back in the confines of Poole Harbour. Maybe there had been complaints about the noise.

The only other departure from a daily diet of the Swanage service was on Wednesday evenings when Monarch ran an evening cruise from Bournemouth at 6pm to mop up any overflow of passengers which Embassy had been unable to accommodate on her 4.45pm departure from Totland Bay. There would of course have been passengers intending to take the later trip from Totland Bay but for any who had wanted to take the earlier sailing and been unable to get aboard because Embassy was full then they may not have been best pleased to have had to wait three and a half hours to be picked up by Monarch. However any irritation and consequent hunger at having missed their dinners may have been pacified by Monarch offering “Special Ham and Egg Suppers” at 4/6, a filling and tasty supper which was easy to prepare in Monarch’s tiny galley situated on the aft side of the port sponson.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays Monarch was available for her last run of the day to Swanage and Poole at 6pm but she had to wait until Embassy got back to Bournemouth from the Isle of Wight at 6.30pm to take any of her passengers on to Swanage.

Monarch started her 1960 season on Tuesday 31st May running on the Swanage service on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, to Totland Bay on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays and to Yarmouth on Thursdays until she was joined by Embassy on Sunday 3rd July. After that Embassy took over the Isle of Wight trips with Monarch on the Swanage service. Her last sailing of the season, and indeed the last public sailing of her career, was on Thursday 8th September after which she sailed back to Weymouth to lay up the following day.

Monarch A/S Weymouth Pleasure Pier, February 1961.Dorothy Megoran

Monarch was scheduled for just five days off during the whole summer of 1960 so that comes in as an operating season of 98 days at best without taking into account any cancellations due to weather. The return fare between Bournemouth and Swanage was 7/6 which comes in at just under £9 in today’s money. Monarch could carry over 700 passengers. So if she had been full on at least three of her trips between Bournemouth and Swanage each day that would have given a maximum revenue of £18K per day which scales up to £1.7 million for the season in today’s money. If she had been half full then that would have been around £800K. If only a third full than that maximum revenue falls to just over £500K which is not a lot to finance the operation and refit of a paddle steamer 190ft long with a crew of around a dozen.

There were days when she was running to, or near to, capacity in the peak weeks of this season but there were many more when she was not. Of the two trips I made on her with my parents in June and September 1960 she was only lightly loaded with just a handful of passengers aboard on each occasion. 1960 was her last season. She was towed away to be scrapped in Cork the following March.

John Megoran

John Megoran

October 2021
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