Bristol Queen arrived in Weymouth around 8am on Tuesday 13th November 1962 in calm conditions for attention to her engine and boiler by Cosens & Co. having left Barry around 12 noon the day before.
First thing on 14th she swapped places with British Railway’s Sandown, passing through the Town Bridge to moor outside Cosens’s workshop in the Backwater under the command of Cosens’s Captain Cyril “Chum” Holleyoak late of PS Embassy.
It was hoped that the work would be concluded within a month for her return to the Bristol Channel before Christmas but delay followed delay with everything complicated by the big freeze which started in December 1962 and lasted until March. Weymouth was cut off for a time by snow and, like the rest of the UK, experienced some of the coldest temperatures on record. Rivers, including the Humber, froze. It was the first time that my eleven year old self had ever seen snow in any quantity. So cold was it that my Dad went out and bought four extra electric heaters which he positioned around the house to augment our coal fires in the grates and coke boiler in the kitchen to try to keep us all warm at home. In the end it was late April 1963 before Bristol Queen got away.
Bristol Queen’s arrival overlapped with Sandown’s departure so on 13/14th November there were four paddle steamers in Weymouth Harbour including Cosens’s Embassy and Consul. There would have been five if Princess Elizabeth had laid up there, as she had done the previous year and would do again in subsequent years, but she spent the winter of 1962/63 moored on a buoy in Poole Harbour off Hamworthy instead.
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 13th November 2020.