April 2018:
Forty Three British Paddle Steamers Withdrawn 1955 – 1981

April 2018:
Forty Three British Paddle Steamers Withdrawn 1955 – 1981
Bristol Queen (1946 – 1968) alongside at Ilfracombe 6th July 1963.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, paddle steamers in Britain initially did rather well, with four new ones built between 1946 and 1953, including Bristol Queen, and about sixty still in service nationwide. By 1955 this tide of optimism had turned and from then on it was downhill all the way.

Aboard Embassy (1911 – 1967) dropping anchor off Cowes 7th August 1963.

In almost every subsequent year, one or two paddle steamers were withdrawn and sometimes it was as many as five or six. By the late 1960s only a handful remained operational and, of these, all except one owed their continued existence to their usefulness as people-movers on the Clyde, Humber or Solent, rather than for excursions.

Some, like Freshwater, Princess Elizabeth, Consul and Jeanie Deans, enjoyed temporary new careers on services previously abandoned by their longstanding owners.

Sussex Queen ex Freshwater (1927 – 1962) off Eastbourne 9th September 1960.
Consul (1896 – 1968) arriving at Southend Pier 19th September 1963 with a primrose funnel, bottle green hull and eau-de-nil bulwarks to make her look more “with-it” to try to attract a younger 1960’s clientele.
Queen of the South (1931 – 1968) ex Jeanie Deans leaving Southend Pier 29th May 1966.

A few like Medway Queen, Compton Castle and Caledonia became nightclubs, cafés or bars.

Capt Rehburgh aboard Kingswear Castle alongside Compton Castle at Dartmouth.
Most, like Monarch (1924 – 1961) pictured here at the breakers in Cork, ended up under the scrap-dealer’s torch.