On Wednesday 11th July 1962 Whippingham returned to Portsmouth after her annual dry-docking at Southampton during which she had had a couple of hull plates renewed and her previously varnished wheelhouse was painted white.
Her first trips of the season were on Saturday 14th July running between Portsmouth and Ryde to help shift the vast Saturday crowds of holiday makers coming to and going from the Isle of Wight.
Whippingham’s only sailings in 1962 were on just eight Saturdays between 14th July and 1st September on a roster which included departures from Portsmouth at 10.45am, 12.45pm, 2.45pm and sometimes at 4.45pm with the corresponding returns from Ryde.
Running on such a small number of days may look rather uneconomic but in fact her large capacity of over 1,000 passengers had helped to clear the crowds on summer Saturdays throughout the 1950s and could pack in a significant revenue for her when the going was good. When she was full for three round trips each Saturday then that would have been over 3,000 passengers each way, 4,000 with the 4.45pm sailing added. Today’s Wightlink period return fare from Portsmouth to Ryde is £29 so in today’s money that would be a potential revenue of up to £87K a day or almost three quarters of a million pounds for just 8 days running. Not a bad income for running a paddle steamer for not a lot of work.
However by the early 1960s the crowds wanting to travel for a holiday on the Isle of Wight were on the wane and so 1962 turned out to be Whippingham’s last season in service. Her big capacity was no longer needed so she was towed away from Portsmouth to be scrapped in Ghent in May 1963.
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 July 2019.