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P.S. Wingfield Castle

Above: Wingfield Castle moored outside the Hartlepool Museum on May 9th, 2009.

Launched on September 24th 1934 by Wm. Gray at Hartlepool, England
Engines : Triple Expansion Diagonal, 18, 28.5 and 46 in x 51 in
Dimensions : 199.9 ft (overall) x 33.1/57 ft 
556 Gross Registered Tons

Built for LNER Railway (later British Railways) Hull - New Holland ferry service
On of three paddlers maintaining a year-round service for passengers, cars, cattle and cargo
Withdrawn in 1974 as the new Humber Suspension Bridge took away most of the traffic
Sold various times and lying derelict in Swansea when purchased by Hartlepool Borough Council
Returned to Hartlepool in June 1986 for restoration
Moored at the site of the former William Gray & Co shipyard as an exhibit of Hartlepool Museum
Refurbished in 2006/2007 with the help of the Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the HMS Trincomalee Trust
The rotten traditional promenade deck planking has been replaced by a latex compound laid above a reinforced steel deck
Saloon areas now converted for use for eductional seminars, corporate events etc


There is no dedicated museum to paddle steamers in the UK and only Wingfield castle remains as purely a museum exhibit. She is attached to the excellent municipal museum at Hartlepool,  in the north east of England. Hartlepool's importance dates back to the industrial revolution when she became an important port for exporting coal mined in the county of Durham. Hartlepool also became an important shipbuilding centre. Whilst docks do remain, the shipbuilding yards have now closed. However, the museum and a separate visitor attraction based around a recreated naval dockside have been built alongside the yard of Wm Gray and Sons.

Wingfield Castle will be confined to Hartlepool Marina for the rest of her life it would seem. The lock (rebuilt in 1991 after she arrived) is now too small for her to pass through.

Wingfield Castle, as well as being a fine exhibit to scramble around with some audio presentations to explain the operation of the engines and the history of the ship, operates as the museum's cafeteria. The latest refurbishment has introduced changes which detract from her historical authenticity to comply with modern accessibility standards. The fore and aft lower saloons are now accessible by lift and locked companionways protected by combination-coded doors. These rooms are now hired out for local groups to use. The fore saloon companionway, previously in the middle of the cafeteria has been boarded over as part of these changes. The ship has none of the comfort found in her refurbished sister Tattershall Castle or her recently lost younger cousin Lincoln Castle, both which were adapted for the leisure industry in London and Grimsby respectively. Ironically, it was Lincoln Castle, scrapped in 2010, which was probably the most authentic of the preserved ships rather than the "museum" ship.

View a selection of photos taken in 2009 showing the key parts of Hartlepool's museum ship and Britain's museum paddle steamer

Wingfield Castle in service in 1971 in a photo kindly supplied by Jake Dale.
Below : From the photograph archive

By 1990 restoration was well under way at Hartlepool

By 1998 she was a fully open part of Hartlepool Museum

A coffee bar is installed in the forward lounge




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