Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle

Coal-fired Kingswear Castle on the Medway.

Coal-fired Kingswear Castle on the Medway.

Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle, known affectionately as KC, is Britain's last coal burning river paddle steamer. She was built by Philip & Son of Dartmouth in Devon in 1924 for the River Dart Steamboat Company Limited for service on the River Dart. The Society purchased her in 1967 and over a number of years restored her to her present day condition.

From 1985 until 2012 she operated on the rivers Medway and Thames, based at Chatham. In December 2012 Kingswear Castle returned to her home waters on the River Dart after an absence of 45 years.

Kingswear Castle sails from Dartmouth and Totnes. Her main sailings are 90 minute Dartmouth Harbour cruises but on selected days (subject to tidal conditions) she steams up the beautiful River Dart to Totnes and back.  She is owned on behalf of the Society by the Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust.  She is on long term charter to the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company who operate her each summer.

These are the options offered for 2020:


Shipbuilder Built in 1924 by Philip & Son of Dartmouth
Engine-builder Manufactured in 1904 by Cox & Co of Falmouth and recovered from the earlier PS Kingswear Castle (1904-1923)
Engine type 130HP two cylinder compound reciprocating steam engine with 12" and 24" cylinders with a 24" stroke
Boiler Scotch single furnace return tube, coal-fired, working pressure 120 psi (8 bar)
Boiler maker Wellman Robey, built 2000
Coal capacity 4 tons (4,064kg)
Length overall 113 feet, 8 inches (34.7m)
Hull beam 17 feet, 6 ins (5.3m)
Beam overall 28 feet (8.5m)
Paddle-wheels 10 feet (3m) diameter, fixed wooden floats
Draught 4 feet (1.2m)
Gross tonnage 94 (47 nett)
Speed 8 knots (9 mph / 15kph)
Port of Registry Dartmouth
MCA passenger certificates Class V and Class VI: 235 passengers
Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) 235007618
Radio call sign MCGH6
Operators 1924 - River Dart Steamboat Company
1985 - Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust
2012 - Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company
1904 Kingswear Castle's engine built by Cox & Co. of Falmouth for the previous vessel of the same name.
1924 Date of build, engine transferred from the 1904 Kingswear Castle.
1961-2 Extensively re-plated below the water line and re-boilered.
1964 Kingswear Castle becomes the last operational paddle steamer on the River Dart.
1965 Kingswear Castle withdrawn from service at the end of the season.
June 1967 Purchased for £600 by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.
28 August 1967 Towed to Medina Creek, Isle of Wight, and moored alongside PS Medway Queen.
1969 First sailing under Paddle Steamer Preservation Society ownership when she was steamed for the BBC TV series 'Bird's Eye View'.
June 1971 Towed to River Medway for comprehensive restoration.
20 November 1982 Boiler is steamed for the first time.
4-6 November 1983 Steaming and manoeuvring trials carried out on completion of restoration.
1984 Limited passenger carrying certificate issued for 12 passengers.
May 1985 Full passenger carrying certificate issued.
1986 Kingswear Castle wins National Steam Heritage Award.
1 June 1987 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher boards Kingswear Castle during the General Election campaign.
1994 First prize winner in Scania Transport Trust Awards.
2001 New coal fired boiler installed with support from Heritage Lottery Fund, Manifold Trust and the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.
3 June 2012 Kingswear Castle selected for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
11 December 2012 Kingswear Castle leaves Chatham Historic Dockyard on the River Medway to return to her birthplace, the River Dart in Devon.
29 March 2013 First cruise on the River Dart since 1965.
May 2014 Kingswear Castle wins Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Engineering Heritage Award.

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