PS Kingswear Castle Returns to the Dart in 15 Year Deal

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SCameron
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PS Kingswear Castle Returns to the Dart in 15 Year Deal

Post by SCameron » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:42 pm

After a gap of nearly half a centuert Britain's last coal fired paddlle steamer will be returning to her original area of operation, the River Dart, perhaps as early as next week. She had operated in the Dart from the time of her build in 1924 until her withdrawal in 1965. She was saved from the scrapyard but progress was slow and 15 years passed until she was restored to operational status. For rhe past 27 years she has been operating on the River Medway and lower Thames estuary (with occasional visits to London) under the very capable management of the master, Capt John Mrgoran. . However, a new 15 year deal with the Dartmouth Railway will see her future shift back to the place of her origin. She is scheduled to be towed by seagoing tug from the Medway on Monday (10th Dec)
Kingswear Castle.jpg
One of the last remaining coal-fired paddle steamers in operation in the UK today, built in 1924 at Philip & Son of Dartmouth, is to return home after an absence of 47 years.

In her heyday the impressive ship was the life blood of the river Dart, carrying almost 500 passengers between Totnes and Dartmouth until 1965 when she was purchased by the PSPS (Paddle Steamer Preservation Society) and left the Dart in an era when diesel engines and propellers were favoured over paddles. Her own engines date back to 1904.

The grand old lady of the Dart will begin her return journey next week (possibly Monday 10th, weather permitting) after being at Chatham in Kent where the PSPS took 15 years to restore her to her former glory and she has been offering river trips on the Medway for 27 years. She will arrive home towed by a seagoing tug and subject to her periodic winter refit will operate pleasure trips once again to Totnes and back from Easter.

Announcement of the Kingswear Castle’s return was made in Bath by Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company General Manager Andrew Pooley during the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS) annual meeting. He announced that a 15 year agreement had been signed with the paddle steamer owners PSPS to allow the move and operation within the river initially as part of the Paignton, Kingswear, Totnes, Round Robin pleasure trips.
Mr Pooley said; “I am delighted that she has caused such excitement over her return, it has been a hard secret to keep to ourselves of late – we are all very excited too. It has taken nearly three years negotiations with the trustees to bring this about and time to persuade the trustees that we have within our organisation the marine expertise and steam engineering skills to look after this historic vessel in perpetuity. There can be very few organisations in the country with our expertise – this is why we have had agreement to bring Kingswear Castle back to her home port so that she can once again carry passengers up and down the waters that she was built for.”

South Hams District Councillor Hilary Bastone said: “This is wonderful news. The old steam driven paddle wheelers brought such magic to the river. The Kingswear Castle was the last of the line – it is a truly inspired decision to bring this 88 year old lady back to her true home.”
South Hams Kingswear and Dartmouth Councillor Jonathan Hawkins, a self-proclaimed steam buff and member of the PSPS, said: “This is great news that she is coming back to Kingswear where she belongs and for the economy of both Dartmouth and Kingswear. I went up for the commemorative cruise at Chatham to mark the 100th anniversary of her steam engine. We presented her with a commemorative plaque and she was in wonderful condition then.”

The first passenger steam boat service was introduced on the Clyde in 1812 and it wasn’t until 1836 that the South Hams greeted its first estuary passenger steamer. Prior to this, goods were transported via pack horse or carters wagon. The arrival of the railways in the mid 1800’s challenged their survival and at that point they became more reliant on the tourism trade.
The steam railway has had a long historical link with the steamers on the river Dart. Charles Seal Hayne was one of the early investors in the railway and associated steamer service. In 1859 he founded the Dartmouth Steam Packet Company Ltd which was later sold to Dart Pleasure Craft, now part of the Dartmouth Steam Railway & River Boat Company.

Andrew Pooley added; “We are delighted that visitors will be able to enjoy a nostalgic cruise along the lower reaches of the river Dart where the sounds and smells will transport them back in time to an era when these ships were the life blood of the community. A tour booking will start and end in Dartmouth, passing Bayards Cove, Warfleet Creek, both Dartmouth & Kingswear Castles, Britannia Royal Naval College, Noss boat yard, the quaint village of Dittisham and the Greenway Estate, former home of the late Dame Agatha Christie. It’s also going to be the most wonderful addition to our Round Robin offering.”

yorkieman
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Re: PS Kingswear Castle Returns to the Dart in 15 Year Deal

Post by yorkieman » Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:52 pm

Interesting move, Stuart .... I guess the passenger and revenue earning potential (very important as we all know) must be deemed to be as good down there as on the Medway.
Clears the way for WAVERLEY to be based entirely on the Thames/Medway .....
just joking!
George Robinson
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Number6
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Re: PS Kingswear Castle Returns to the Dart in 15 Year Deal

Post by Number6 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:36 pm

Its an excellent result - but - it would have been 100% better if the supporting volunteers had been taken into confidence though.

It would have been far better if she had been towed down to Devon in an atmosphere of congratulations and optimism for the future rather than recriminations.

But just wait until tomorrow!

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davidships
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Re: PS Kingswear Castle Returns to the Dart in 15 Year Deal

Post by davidships » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:42 pm

It would have been far better if she had been towed down to Devon in an atmosphere of congratulations and optimism for the future rather than recriminations.
What's all this about then?

What's towing her to Devon? Can't see anything on the move - perhaps GPS's NAPIA?
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Clydebuilt1971
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Re: PS Kingswear Castle Returns to the Dart in 15 Year Deal

Post by Clydebuilt1971 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:22 am

Number6 wrote:Its an excellent result - but - it would have been 100% better if the supporting volunteers had been taken into confidence though.

It would have been far better if she had been towed down to Devon in an atmosphere of congratulations and optimism for the future rather than recriminations.

But just wait until tomorrow!
This is good news for the future of the steamer - although she was by no means in any imminent danger on the Medway there were concerns over piers etc and also (to a lesser extent) any impact the restoration of Medway Queen would have.

I admire the way in which the Trust goes about its business and wish them and their beautiful ship all the very best.

Gav

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