On Thursday 17th 1923 P & A Campbell’s Devonia arrived at Brighton having left Bristol at 8am and Cardiff at 9.45am the previous day for the positioning run round Lands End and on up the English Channel ready for her Sussex Coast summer season. The advertised arrival time at Brighton was 8.30am the following morning
Chris Collard, who has had access to P & A Campbell’s logs, records in his excellent book “The Story of Campbells Steamers 1919 – 1939” entries in the ship’s log for that day which report that she was five minutes late leaving Bristol, just over half an hour late leaving Cardiff and arrived more than three hours late at Brighton’s West Pier which she reached at 11.50am the following morning where she unloaded about 50 passengers who had made the full trip round. They must have been a hardy lot of diehard enthusiasts as, like all the excursion paddle steamers, Devonia had no sleeping accommodation other than offering the opportunity for passengers to doss down on the saloon seats.
The wind for the voyage was from the NW which is not a good direction for sailing down the north Devon and Cornish coasts putting Devonia broadside on to the waves which must inevitably have led to some rocking and rolling which would have slowed her down. Once round Lands End she would then have been in the lee of the land all the way up to Brighton and therefore comparatively sheltered.
Brighton Belle accompanied Devonia on the voyage round, but without any passengers, leaving Bristol earlier at 6.15am and not arriving at Newhaven until 11.25pm on the Thursday evening. She was a slower boat than Devonia but her master Capt Hawken may have been a bit more cautious than Devonia’s Capt Bill Couves who had something of a reputation for banging on through anything. The log for his return passage from Brighton to Bristol on Devonia in 1930 in the teeth of a NE gale makes interesting and rather alarming reading but that is another story for another day.
This article was first published on 17th May 2021.