On Monday 16th March 1959 Consul was up on Cosens’s own slipway in Weymouth for underwater survey and hull painting.
She had been towed from her layup berth in Weymouth just upstream of the Town Bridge to this berth outside Cosens’s head office at 10, Custom House Quay, to await water for the slipway on Friday 13th March 1959. You can see one of Cosens’s own harbour launches, either the Pearl or Ruby, acting as a tug which until 1954 had run trips round Portland Harbour for Cosens from a pontoon pitch run off the beach near the Jubilee Clock on the esplanade.
That winter I remember her mate John Iliffe painted the whole funnel with red oxide paint so temporarily she was an orange funnelled steamer. I also remember my Dad saying to me with a smile that painting the funnel like that so prominently was a good way to get yourself noticed by your employer as they would almost certainly ask “Who did that?”. Captain Iliffe was promoted to be master of Consul in 1960.
Captain Iliffe had a penchant for painting things with red lead in the winter and rightly so. He recognised that steel corrodes and red lead helps to mitigate against that. When he was master of Embassy from 1963 to 1966 every winter he painted all her silver handrails around the promenade deck with it so they temporarily turned orange. And he painted it on the wind and weather strake just above the waterline around the hull as well. This is ever the part of a ship’s hull prone to the most corrosion as it is forever wet and exposed to the atmosphere thereby providing the two conditions of air and water necessary for rust to develop. That was fine but as each season wore on the black which had been painted over it started to wash off leaving a speckled orange effect around Embassy’s bow as can be clearly seen in the picture above.
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 16th March 2021.