August 2014:
New Book on River Conwy Paddle Steamers

August 2014:
New Book on River Conwy Paddle Steamers

With the blossoming of Victorian tourism in the 1840s, the beautiful Conwy Valley in North Wales, with its healthy climate and picturesque scenery, became immensely popular. The rediscovery of an ancient chalybeate mineral well led to the transformation of the quiet village of Trefriw into a major spa resort to which health-seeking visitors flocked, travelling aboard a unique fleet of charming paddle steamers, which quickly established themselves as an essential part of the Welsh tourist experience.

As you would expect from the pen of maritime historian Richard Clammer, the book is meticulously researched, lavishly illustrated and is a very informative and entertaining read bringing us all up to date on a largely forgotten area of paddle steamer history.

It covers the history of the Conwy paddle steamers from the earliest packet boat days in the late 1840s (this is the St George next to Conwy Castle)…

…through the development of the business as tourism blossomed in the area, (this is the Queen of the Conway passing Deganwy around the turn of the century)…

…tells how the development of the Trefriw Spa with its “Richest iron waters known” aided the paddle steamer business…

…and continues right up to the last paddle steamer sailings around the outbreak of the Second World War and beyond when motor boats took up the now reduced trade (this is the King George in 1939).

It tells the story of the people who made it all happen… (this is the gold braided Capt Jones engaged in a “who can keep their hands on their hips longest competition” with a lady)…

…and includes the tale of this rather sinister looking priest, Father Sylvester Baron, who, in consort with some nuns, bought the paddle steamer King George right in the middle of the Second World War. Why did he do that?

For the answer to this and much more about the fascinating Conwy paddle steamer history you will have to buy the book:

“Passenger Steamers of the River Conwy” by Richard Clammer.

It is available online from The History Press and Amazon.