On Thursday 11th December 1941 the starboard sponson of Shanklin suffered considerable damage when the ship was thrown heavily alongside Ryde Pier by the excessive wash from a fast naval craft speeding by too close. This necessitated repairs which took almost a week to complete and cost £299 (£15K in today’s money).
With Southsea, Whippingham, Ryde and Sandown away on war service, with Freshwster on charter at Weymouth as part of the Examination Service and with one of the remaining three paddlers in the middle of her annual refit, this left the Southern Railway short of a ship for the Portsmouth to Ryde route so they chartered in Princess Helena from their Isle of Wight competitor down the road at Southampton Red Funnel to fill the gap.
Princess Helena was something of a veteran. Built in 1883 with an iron hull she spent much of her life, including her winters, on the Southampton to Cowes ferry run although she ran excursions in the summers including in earlier years from Bournemouth. From 1949 she became spare ship on the cargo service and was finally scrapped in Southampton in June 1952.
Shanklin was built in 1924 for the Southern Railways’ Portsmouth to Ryde ferry service on which she remained throughout the war and on up to November 1950 when she was replaced by a modern twin screw diesel vessel which also took her name. Bought by Cosens of Weymouth and renamed Monarch she spent the next ten summers running from Bournemouth Pier most particularly on the Swanage service. She was scrapped in Cork in 1961.
By the following Monday 18th December 1941 Shanklin was repaired and ready to go back into service and take over once again from Princess Helena which returned to Southampton.
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 11th December 2020.