On Sunday 13th October 1963 Caledonia was rostered to be out and about on the Clyde ferry service starting and finishing her day at Gourock and taking in Millport.
For the first part of the winter of 1963, and as usual back then, Caledonia was kept in steam at Gourock as relief ship for the ferry services and for liner tendering as and when required.
She had already relieved one of the Maids on Wednesday 2nd October on the Gourock/Holy Loch service while she was away tendering a liner. And she had taken the last charter of the season on Saturday 5th October on a cruise from Dunoon to the Kyles of Bute.
In winds from the north east it can get a bit choppy alongside at Gourock so to stop vessels berthed there banging against the quay wall and causing damage they were often “put out on the wires”. These were wires attached to anchors laid off the berth which could be hauled in aboard a ship alongside to pull her off the berth just enough so that there was a small gap between the ship’s rubbing band and the quay so that she couldn’t bang alongside but not so far off the quay that a gangway couldn’t be mounted. Using wires like this was common practice in railway ports around the UK not only to keep ships a little off a quay but also to haul large ferries off their berths when sailing in the days before bow and stern thrusts were invented.
By mid November Caledonia’s regular Sunday trips on the ferry were taken by one of the Maids but she remained spare vessel at Gourock until December when her place was taken by the diesel electric paddler Talisman.
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 October 2020.