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Paddle Steamers past and present
Excursion Paddle Steamers of the Past
: vessels and paddle steamer operators Above: The ship that started it all off in Europe - or
at least a replica. Henry Bell's PS Comet is regarded as the first
commercially operating paddle streamer. Built in 1812, the replica,
owned by the local authority (Inverclyde), is located alongside the
main road past Port Glasgow on the Clyde estuary. It was at the
local Fergusons' shipyard for refurbishment (2011/12) in advance of the
bi-cententennial celebrationsClick below to see the history of
operators and vessels in many of the major operating areas in Europe, with very limited coverage of other parts of the world.
You can return to this page (Paddle
Steamers of the Past), or follow onward links (e.g to existing vessels / services) from
the individual area historical pages Vessel dates are first and last years in the fleet.
Vessels may or may not have sailed for the company in the year of
purchase / disposal
Links are provided to vessel profiles from the pages covering the
paddle steamer operating companies in each geographical area.
Main areas of excursion steamer operation in the
UK : Excludes short-sea routes such as to Isle
of Man, Ireland,
France/Belgium unless shown below On
short-sea connections paddle steamers quickly lost prominence to screw
steamers and after the advent of turbine power at the beginning of the
20th century, turbines tended to dominate this market.
well as the Humber ferry service, which saw large paddle steamers
continue in operation well into the 1970s, there were numerous paddle
steamer services offering short crossings across rivers and estuaries.
These included the well-known Mersey ferries, crossing between
Liverpool and Birkenhead and other piers on the Wirral, where paddle
steamers dominated until the beginning of the 20th century, after which
all new-build was for screw-propelled ships.
ferry in west Wales is remarkable to the extent that the UK's last
paddle steamer was built to serve the short crossing of the Cleddau
River to Neyland. Paddle Steamer Cleddau Queen
was introduced in 1956 and was a small primarily vehicular ferry and
replaced the older passenger ferry PS Alumchine. She later sailed in
association with the diesel ferry Cleddau King. The ferry service
survived until 1975 and the opening of a bridge.
tugs were highly numerous and no attempt is made in this database to
include these vessels. They included small vessels used for manoevring
larger vessels around confined port areas and larger vessels used for
carrying cargo (and also pulling cargo barges) especially on rivers
were especially common on rivers such as the Rhein and Danube, sailing
in the same waters as conventional passenger steamers. A typical
example is shown below :
Above: This is Adolf Linden IV, seen near Koln on the Rhein in 1958 in a photo kindly supplied by Alan Murray-Rust.
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