17th August 1937:
Sailings from Lulworth Cove

17th August 1937:
Sailings from Lulworth Cove
Victoria leaving Weymouth.

Lulworth Cove was ever a beauty spot at which paddle steamers delivered far more passengers than they ever picked up but there were some staying in the vicinity who did board there and these trips from Lulworth were advertised with a proper steamer notice.

On Tuesday 17th August 1937 those wishing for a paddle steamer ride from Lulworth had five different trip options from which to choose.

Steamer Notice for Lulworth Cove August 1937.

First to arrive at Lulworth in the morning was Empress which was scheduled to leave Weymouth at 10.30am for the 7 nautical mile run along the Dorset Coast passing Osmington, White Nothe, Durdle Door and the Bull, the Cow and the Calf arriving just short of an hour later.

Empress in Lulworth Cove.

Many of her passengers would have gone ashore to make a day of it having either five and a half, or eight, hours ashore. Some would have stayed aboard for the morning round trip getting back to Weymouth at 12.45pm. And a few would have boarded for her trip back to Weymouth offering about two hours there.

Empress then left Weymouth at 3pm once again for Lulworth giving these passengers either an hour, or just over three and a half hours, ashore before setting off back to Weymouth at 5pm.

She then returned one more time to Lulworth offering an early evening round trip from Weymouth to collect the overflow from her morning and afternoon cruises finishing her day back in Weymouth at 8.45pm.

So that was three round trips Empress was scheduled to make this day (and on many others) between Weymouth and Lulworth Cove. This was sort of necessary in the peak weeks as if she was full on the morning and afternoon cruises outward bound from Weymouth and if all the passengers had gone ashore then she couldn’t have fitted them all back aboard again on her 5pm return departure.

Scheduling three round trips helped to even out the returns and made sure that all the passengers Empress brought to Lulworth could be taken home again either on the 11.45am, 5pm or 7.45pm departures.

This general level of business requiring three round trips to Lulworth on certain days in the peak weeks continued right up to 1960 but after that there weren’t enough passengers to justify the third sailing with Consul generally able to take back on her 5pm return sailing all she had brought on her morning and afternoon trips to the Cove.

For her last operational season in 1964, and then in private ownership, Consul’s passenger Certificate was slashed to little more than 200 by the Board of Trade so this became a problem once again. This was then solved not by putting on an extra trip in the early evening but by sending the overflow back on a Southern National bus.

Monarch backing out of Bournemouth pier late 1930s.

Meanwhile on Tuesday 17th August 1937, Monarch was advertised to leave Bournemouth at 10.30am for Swanage and a day trip to Lulworth Cove. However she was too big, and had too high a bow, to land passengers in the Cove herself so her Lulworth contingent transferred to Victoria which arrived at Swanage around the same time on a day trip from Weymouth to Swanage and Bournemouth. Victoria’s Bournemouth bound passengers transferred to Monarch and Monarch’s Lulworth bound passengers transferred to Victoria.

Victoria arriving in Lulworth Cove.

Victoria then retraced her route back along the Dorset Coast past Peverill Point, Durlston and Anvil Points, St Albans Head and Kimmeridge for Lulworth where she was due in about 1.15pm to give her passengers just under a couple of hours ashore.

She was scheduled to leave Lulworth at 3pm back to Swanage where she dropped off the Bournemouth contingent to board Monarch and collected her Weymouth passengers from Monarch to take them back with arrival back around 7.30pm. It was a neat arrangement.

However Victoria was not an ideal boat for these longer coastal voyages as she had so little undercover accommodation with much of what she had being below deck in her forward and aft saloons which had no view of the passing scenery except through portholes.

Consul leaving Weymouth 1938 or 1939.

When the Exmouth based Duke of Devonshire came onto the market prior to the 1938 season, Cosens snapped her up, gave her something of a rebuild including a new funnel, and renamed her Consul. So for 1938 and 1939 and after the War, whilst Victoria continued to offer these longer day trips from time to time, Consul, with her ability to land at Lulworth Cove, was more often rostered for them

The steamer notice also says “Stewardess in attendance”. This was quite a common statement here and elsewhere around the UK at the time giving some reassurance to lady passengers that in the event of them feeling unwell with mal de mer at least there was someone in a position of authority aboard the boat of their own sex so that they would not have to be ministered to in their hour of need by burly, and perhaps uncouth (in their eyes anyway), male seamen.

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.

John Megoran

John Megoran

This article was first published on 17th August 2020.