January 2021:
Paddle Steamer Consul at Cowes

January 2021:
Paddle Steamer Consul at Cowes

Consul approaching Cowes. She was never a regular visitor to Cowes. Indeed I can’t, so far anyway, find any record of her running into or out from this Isle of Wight harbour. But here she is quite definitely making her approach from the west.

In this picture taken a few minutes later she is in the channel leading up to Cowes with the shoreline at East Cowes clearly visible in the background and the little slipway with a boat alongside it in the foreground on the western shore where the photographer is standing. There are no passengers aboard, or at least none visible on deck. Was she coming in to pick up a party? Or had she dropped off a party earlier and was coming back to collect them? And when were these two pictures taken? What was the date?

We know that she was not returned to service after the war until 1949 and for that season she had yet to be fitted with the two ventilating cowls right aft extending above the promenade deck which were put on to provide fresh air for the newly fitted crew accommodation on the lower deck aft. So it must be after that. We know that she acquired a gantry on her funnel in 1954 for taking a second steaming light after a change in the navigation light regulations. So it must be before then. That narrows it down to 1950, 1951, 1952 or 1953.

We know that Consul was based at Weymouth for most of her post war career with Cosens although she came to Swanage, Bournemouth and Totland Bay Isle of Wight quite often during this period. Also in the summers of 1951 and 1952 she spent much of her time based at Poole running from Bournemouth and Swanage between which piers she is seen paddling in this picture taken on Monday 21st July 1952.

I can’t see from the steamer notices from that era that she was ever rostered to run from Weymouth or Bournemouth or Swanage to visit Cowes. Yet here she is in the first two pictures quite definitely entering Cowes Harbour and seemingly without any passengers unless they are all below deck.

All I can think of is that they were taken at some point during the Coronation Naval Review in June 1953. We know that Consul, Embassy and Monarch ran charter and other public sailings from Southampton and Southsea during this period to view the assembled and assembling fleet. Did one of these take Consul in and out of Cowes? Did she do it more than once? Does anybody out there know for sure? Can anyone put a specific date on these pictures?

If you have any of your own ideas then please let us know at info@kingswearcastle.org.

Thank you!