Kingswear Castle, the last remaining operational coal fired paddle steamer in the UK, is owned by the Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust, a registered charity which takes care of the ship in association with the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.
The Trust, originally called Paddle Steamer Navigation Ltd. was established in 1963 with the intention of buying the paddle steamer Alumchine. Sadly that deal fell through but in 1967 Kingswear Castle was purchased for £600 with a loan from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. Restoration, primarily by volunteers working at weekends at Chatham Dockyard in Kent, took many years and it was not until 1984 that she attained the necessary certificates to carry passengers once again.
The Trust operated Kingswear Castle on the Medway and Thames for next 28 years and it was during this time that surpluses from the revenue coupled with grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Manifold Trust, local authorities and the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, as well as from other donations and legacies, enabled major restoration work to continue including substantial hull replating, commissioning a new boiler, re-decking, new sponsons and paddle boxes and very much more.
Throughout these years there was a hope that one day Kingswear Castle might return to operate in her home waters. This was finally realised in 2013 with her chartered by the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company who operate her today on the Trust’s behalf.