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PS Kingswear Castle (1924)
Operating Area : River Dart, UK

Kingswear Castle on the Medway in 2000, seen from PS Waverley. Photo by kind courtesy of Phil Barnes
Built in 1924 by Philip & Son, Dartmouth

Ccompound diagonal engines 12" and 25" x 24" stroke by Cox & Co, Falmouth, England in 1904
Engines recovered from PS Kingswear Castle (1904-1923)

Overall length 113'8" - beam 17'6" (28'0" across paddle boxes) - draught 4'0"

Passenger Capacity (2015) : 235 (Class V and VI waters)

Ran a service with three other paddlers from Totnes to Dartmouth in the inter-war period
Served as a stores ship and tender to the US Navy during World War II
Was part of a three-vessel service after the war
Withdrawn after the 1961 season for reboilering, retaining coal fuel, and attention to the hull
Returned to service in 1964, but with her two consorts withdrawn in favour of replacement motor vessels
Finally withdrawn after the 1965 season as running costs continued to mount
Laid up in Old Mill Creek, she was bought by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society in 1967
Moved in August 1967 to the River Medina, Isle of Wight, alongside PS Medway Queen.
In steam twice in 1969, but otherwise deteriorating at her berth
Moved to Rochester on the River Medway in June 1971
Preservation then restoration work undertaken at a tidal berth by a small band of volunteers
Successfully steamed "in-situ" in 1982
Returned to operational steam on 4/11/1983 and obtained her insurance certificate
Operated for 20 days in 1984 with a volunteer crew and a 12 passenger limit venturing as far as Gravesend.
First meeting with PS Waverley on 16/9/84 on Chatham Reach
Passenger Certificates were obtained to allow commercial operation in the 1985 season.
1985-2012: Continued expansion of operation on the Medway and Thames estuary and improvement of facilities under guidance of Captain John Megoran.

2013 : Conclusion of a 15-year charter agreement with the Dartmouth Steam Railway & Riverboat Company to return her for service on the River Dart
Winter 2016-17 : new low-pressure cylinder cast following the discovery of a small crack on part of the outer casing

The webmaster comments : Indications from the Dartmouth Company are that they are very pleased with their decision to engage Kingswear Castle as part of their fleet, seeing the wider benefits of having such an unusual and attractive ship as part of their offer to the tourist. This echoes experience in Switzerland where the larger PS Blumlisap on Lake Thun was saved, restored and operated by enthusiasts in conjunction with the incumbent lake cruise operator (the paddler's former owners) before more formal re-incorporation into the commercial fleet. The most recent example of such is on lake Neuchatel in Switzerland with the eponymous PS Neuchatel.  The survival of a large number of paddle steamers in Switzerland has been because of partnerships with the local operators, including financial support from enthusiast bodies, to ensure that these ships survived periods of fleet modernisation to fulfill the important "heritage" role so appreciated by today's tourists. Operating such a ship independently was, is and will continue to be an enormous task with big financial risks.

Kingswear Castle is one of two paddle steamers owned on behalf of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society and her return to service has meant that there are only two operational paddlers in the UK. During Waverley's traditional autumn visit to the Thames, her schedulers have always tried to ensure that there was a meeting between the two ships on the Medway. On this occasion, 27th September 2000, a little more than ther normal "parade of steam" along the Medway was planned. The two ships were to exchange passengers in mid-channel. Although the ships met (see photo above by kind courtesy of Phil Barnes), an exchange was aborted as the waters roughened. Despite failing in this unusual procedure, there remained the opportunity to photograph the other vessel sailing in procession.
Click here to see more photos of Kingswear Castle by Phil Barnes


Above : Kingswear Castle at Thunderbolt Pier, Chatham on June 14th, 1992 by Phil Barnes.  
Click here for more photos form 1992 and 1993 by Phil Barnes

Bibliography
Kingswear Castle - Britain's Last Coal-Fired Paddle Steamer
By J.B. Millar
Published in various editions by Kingswear Castle Excursions Ltd / PSPS
The KC story

Internet Links

Kingswear Castle owner's official website
Dartmouth Steam Railway & River Boat Company website


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