On Easter Monday 18th April 1949 Bournemouth Queen was offering trips from Bournemouth Pier in balmy weather conditions with little wind and temperatures well up into the 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It was like the middle of summer.
Bournemouth Pier did not re-open after the war until a temporary structure was ready in August 1946 so there were no Easter sailings that year. Nor did the temporary structure reopen in 1947 until May so there were no Easter sailings that year either.
In 1948 Easter was early in late March and the weather was pretty grim. It was cold. There was wind and Embassy, which had been rostered to cover the service, could do nothing until the Easter Monday when the continuing wind kept most passengers away anyway.
1949 was a different story. There was no wind. The sun shone. Temperatures soared and intending passengers flocked aboard.
The schedule for these Easter sailings by Bournemouth Queen in 1949 included one day running a morning coffee cruise to Durlston Head and a non landing afternoon tea cruise to Totland Bay Isle of Wight. One day backwards and forwards on the Swanage service and a couple more days with morning and afternoon cruises giving time ashore at Yarmouth Isle of Wight.
Of all the early seasons in the post war years, until Easter sailings were finally abandoned from 1953 as being just too much of commercial risk to run, 1949 is the one year which stands out when unquestionably they did good business. And one year out of five to have a really favourable result is not a good ratio for any operator analysing the bottom line and looking at the ratio between costs and expenditure.
If I had been part of the Cosens’s management back then this sort of analysis of the figures would have had me getting out my red pencil and striking a line through putting on Easter sailings after 1953 just as Cosens themselves did in reality. Although there will ever be people egging you on to do this or that, the fact is that unless a business has a subsidy, the income must exceed the expenditure. If not, as night follows day, it will go bust in the end.
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 18th April 2021.