On Monday 10th May 1937 P & A Campbell’s Waverley left Cardiff at 8am bound for Newhaven. She was followed at 10.15am by Glen Gower for Brighton.
This long positioning run was advertised in the first steamer notices of the season for Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings but there were few takers with Waverley sailing light ship and Glen Gower carrying just 36 passengers. The season was due to start on Wednesday 12th May which was the day of the coronation of King George VI. This provided a tricky scheduling issue for paddle steamer trips as on such a major state occasion many people wish to have an involvement of some sort with the ceremony. The roster offered for that day was therefore simple fayre with shorter trips along the coast and between the piers with the first cross Channel day out to Boulogne not being advertised until the following day Thursday 13th May.
Unfortunately the positioning run did not go according to plan. At 8.50pm Glen Gower’s steam steering engine jammed in the vicinity of Lands End and she was forced to use the emergency hand operated tiller in the stern in order to continue. Captain Bruford on Glen Gower called up Captain Hawken on Waverley and asked him to stand by with the two ships now diverted to Falmouth where they arrived at 1.15am early the following morning. The 36 passengers were transferred from Glen Gower to Waverley which set off straight away arriving at Brighton at 6pm. Meanwhile a spare part was removed from the steering engine of Westward Ho and driven down in haste by car from Bristol to Falmouth by P & A Campbell’s Managing Director Mr Banks where it was fitted enabling Glen Gower to proceed on her way once again at 12.30pm.
Both ships therefore ended up positioned to start the Sussex Coast season as advertised on Wednesday 12th May.
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 May 2021.