On Thursday 14th April 1966 all of Westward Ho’s sailings on the Cardiff/Penarth/Barry and Weston ferry service were cancelled due to the weather which was pretty grim and included unseasonal snow showers.
Neither of the two paddle steamers Bristol Queen or Cardiff Queen were rostered to be out for Easter 1966 with the former planned to start later in May and the latter in mid June.
It is easy to forget what an important part of P & A Campbell’s business model this ferry link between Wales and Somerset was. Penarth and Weston are separated by little more than 8 nautical miles but the getting between the two was a right old palaver by other means in those days. And there was a huge industrial hinterland beyond Cardiff extending up into the coal mining valleys which were awash with potential passengers eager for a day or afternoon out across the water on a short but exciting voyage to a sort of close at hand but nonetheless foreign land. And a foreign land with different licencing laws on a Sunday. Make mine a double please. Cheers!
The opening of the first Severn Bridge in September of this 1966 season changed all that. It provided a convenient alternative route which was made all the more so as buying your own car and driving wherever you wanted to go became within the reach of the many rather than just the few. The new bridge knocked a big hole in Campbell’s Cardiff/Weston ferry service revenue in subsequent years.
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 14th April 2021.