After service in the Second World War as an anti-aircraft vessel and latterly as an accommodation ship Red Funnel’s cross Channel flyer Balmoral was returned to Southampton in 1947 in too poor condition to merit a rebuild and so was scrapped in 1949.
She was replaced that same year by a new build and smaller, more economical and versatile twin screw motor ship which took her name and became Red Funnel’s number one excursion vessel.
So what was this Balmoral up to in a typical week in August in 1956 and what were the differences in her schedule compared with that of her larger namesake before the war that we looked at yesterday?
Sunday 19th August 1956: Leave Southampton (9.40am) for Ryde (11am), Southsea (11.30am), Shanklin (1.5pm) Ventnor (1.35pm) to cruise round the Isle of Wight south about first returning to Ryde (4.35pm), Southsea (5pm), Ventnor (6.40pm), Shanklin (7.10pm), Southsea (8.25pm), Ryde (8.50pm) and Southampton (10.15pm).
Monday 20th August: Leave Southampton (9am) for Ryde (10.15am), Southsea (10.45am), Sandown (11.55am), Shanklin (12.15pm) and Ventnor (12.45pm) for Bournemouth (2.30pm – 4pm) for Ventnor 6.15pm, Shanklin (6.45pm), Sandown (7.5pm), Southsea (8.15pm) and Ryde (8.45pm) for Southampton (10pm).
Tuesday 21st August & Thursday 23rd: Leave Southampton (9am) for Ryde (10.15am), Southsea (10.45am), Sandown (11.55am), Shanklin (12.15pm), Ventnor (12.45pm) to cruise round the Isle of Wight returning to Ryde ( 4.5pm), Southsea (4.30pm), Ventnor (5.55pm), Shanklin (6.25pm), Sandown (6.45pm), Southsea ( 8pm), Ryde (8.25pm) and Southampton (9.45pm).
Wednesday 22nd August: Leave Southampton (9am) for Ryde (10.15am), Southsea (10.45am), Sandown (11.55am), Shanklin (12.15pm) and Ventnor (12.45pm) dropping off passenger as she went and picking up others along the way for a cruise from the Isle of Wight piers “To Southampton Docks to see RMS Queen Elizabeth or RMS Queen Mary” returning to Sandown (5.30pm), Shanklin (5.45pm) and Ventnor (6.15pm) for Southsea (8.15pm), Ryde (8.45pm) and Southampton (10pm).
Friday 24th August: Spare boat.
Saturday 25th August: Backwards and forwards carrying passengers and cars on the Southampton/West Cowes ferry.
Sunday 26th August: Leave Southampton (11am) for Ryde (12.15pm), Southsea (12.45pm), Sandown (2pm), Shanklin (2.20pm), and Ventnor (2.50pm) for a “Cruise towards the Needles” returning to Ventnor (5.30pm), Shanklin (6pm), Sandown (6.20pm), Southsea (7.35pm), Ryde (8pm) and Southampton (9.15pm).
The first thing to note about this schedule is that the long cross Channel pre-war day trips to Cherbourg from Southampton and Bournemouth are now long gone as are any regular trips along the Sussex Coast to the piers at Brighton and Eastbourne. In this week, as always, Balmoral started and finished her days at the Royal Pier Southampton. She ran around the Isle of Wight, picking up at piers along the way, on three days. On one day she sailed on to Bournemouth. On one day she sailed down to the island piers and then brought passengers back up to Southampton for a view of one or other of the great Cunarders. On one day she sailed to the island piers and then, rather than proceeding all the way around the island, offered an excursion towards the Needles. There was one day which she probably had off and one more when she filled in on the Southampton/Cowes ferry.
And that was basically what she did every week during the summer of 1956 with some small variations week by week. For example Monday August 20th was the only day that she was rostered to sail to Bournemouth this month with other things on other Mondays. These included Monday 6th being given over to a trip from the Isle of Wight piers to view the regatta during Cowes week and on 13th and 27th to trips to view the arrival of the Queen Mary inward bound to Southampton from New York.
So there we have it. That is what the second Balmoral was up to in the summer of 1956.
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 4th August 2021.