On Saturday 28th July Kingswear Castle was chartered by the Wessex and Dart branch of the PSPS for an evening cruise. This was one of the ‘promotional cruises’ which form part of the agreement between Dart Pleasure Craft (Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Co) and Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust, when the ship was returned to the Dart on long term charter at end 2012.
120 passengers enjoyed the evening cruise, which after leaving Dartmouth called at Kingswear on her way up river, turning off Stoke Gabriel. Local PSPS members and friends were joined by groups from Probus Clubs at both Bishopsteignton and Torquay together with a group from Torquay Rotary.
Damien Wallace was in command of the steamer and in the engine room newly qualified 'Steam' engineer Marc Bellin, was looking after KC's 114 year old engines - originally built for the first Kingswear Castle in 1904 by Falmouth engineers, Cox and Company.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all - the downpour which we were treated to as the steamer made her way upriver past Dittisham added to the atmosphere and doubtless boosted the sale of refreshments down below.
Fortunately the 'thundery shower' was short lived and less wet if somewhat breezy conditions, returned by the time Stoke Gabriel was reached and KC turned to head back down river.
All too soon we were back alongside in Dartmouth. There were lots of 'thank yous' from our passengers and everyone was asked to recommend sailing on KC to their friends. Waverley was not forgotten, with her Bristol Channel and South Coast programmes in September getting a mention.
The raffle on board, organised by W & D Committee member Brian Elliott, made £160 and an overall surplus of £1,550 from the evening was made for PS Kingswear Castle Trust funds. Funds are required by the trust to ensure that major works on the vessel can be carried out to keep her in service.
The ship was looking very well turned out and the engines running as smoothly as ever. Thanks are due to all involved in the operation of Kingswear Castle and to the crew for ensuring the evening was such a success. It is hoped that a similar cruise will be arranged in 2019.