By Saturday 18th February 1950 the news was out that Cosens’s first and twin funnelled Monarch had been sold for scrap.
On Tuesday 22nd February she was towed from the Weymouth Backwater through the Town Bridge on the start of her voyage to the scrapyard in Milford Haven. In the foreground of the picture above is the bow of the Embassy. The man in the officer’s cap aboard Embassy is Harry Defrates who had been mate of the Monarch.
Within only a few years of her building in 1888 Monarch was already starting to become a little bit out of date compared with other new excursion paddle steamers by then rolling off the stocks elsewhere around the country. Her fo’c’sle was separated from her promenade deck. Her aft saloon was sort of plonked down on her main deck aft rather than extending the full width of the ship. And there was not that much undercover accommodation for passengers on long day trips if the weather was a bit iffy.
Compare her with P & A Campbell’s Britannia built just eight years later and you will see what I mean.
Nonetheless in her early years she was rostered to run long day trips from Weymouth, Swanage and Bournemouth including across the Channel to Alderney and Cherbourg. The message on the back of this postcard reads:
We are out on this boat in the Channel. It’s very cold indeed but not such a bad trip.
Love Fred xxx
There were some slight modifications to her over the years. In this picture she has lost her main mast, the bridge has been moved forward of her funnels and she has gained two extra lifeboats which came after a review of life saving apparatus following the sinking of Titanic.
By the 1930s she had acquired new and slightly fatter funnels and a wheelhouse.
After the Second World War, in common with other members of the Cosens’s fleet, the white paint was extended down to main deck level. Generally speaking I try to refrain from commenting on whether something done to a ship improves her appearance or mars it as how something looks to anybody is such a personal thing. What one person loves another person may hate and so on. But in this case I will make an exception to my little rule. I think that lowering the white paint to main deck level was a jolly good thing and to my eyes anyway greatly enhanced the look of Cosens’s paddle steamers after the war.
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 February 2021.