At 8.43am on Wednesday 10th July 1936 Brighton Belle was struck by lightning off Eastbourne.
She had spent the previous night at anchor off Hastings and, according to a local newspaper report:
At 8.43am on July 10, in a violent thunderstorm, Brighton Belle was bringing 50 people from Hastings to join the Brighton Queen for Boulogne, and when she was 300yds from Eastbourne Pier there was a blinding flash, accompanied by deafening thunder, splintering the top of the foremast with the aerial spreader sent whipping down to the deck narrowly missing the captain on the bridge. The radio was burned out and the purser, Mr Cuttle, received severe shock.
Captain Smith recorded in his log:
At 8.43am ship struck by lightning damaging foremast. Lightning flame passed through the wireless room, damaging transmitter, continued to engine room, slightly damaging dynamo and causing shock to myself, Mate, Chief Engineer and Purser. Aerials fused and brought down to deck, smashing insulators. Proceeded to Newhaven for repairs.
With repairs complete, Brighton Belle returned to service two days later on Friday 12th July.
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.
This article was first published on 10th July 2021.