On the evening of Saturday 19th January 1963 the Humber ferry Tattershall Castle broke free from her moorings in a storm. The two watchmen, Deck Hand Alan Harrod and Leading Fireman H R Walker, immediately jumped into action and by their brave and resourceful efforts saved the day. In a Flashback series in the Hull Daily Mail Mrs Harrod reported that her husband:
Ran up to the bridge to avoid the ferry crashing into the pier, at the same time blowing for a tug for assistance but the gale was so strong. However with the help of the stoker he managed to get the ferry back to her moorings. Then the crew was called out.
Both crew members were subsequently sent a letter commending their prompt actions from Mr R Barr, General Manager of the Associated Humber Lines, which at that time managed the ships on behalf of the railway. In the letter dated 24th January he said:
I have read with much interest the Marine Superintendent’s reports on the incident of the Tattershall Castle breaking adrift from her moorings during the weekend gales and the action which you took which Captain Collier reports was in the highest traditions of the sea and showed considerable skill and seamanship. I would like you to know that I am extremely pleased and proud of the ability and initiative you displayed. Please accept my sincerest appreciation.
The winter of 1962/63 was truly dreadful with a big freeze nationwide starting in December, blanketing all of the UK in thick snow and carrying on with no let up right through to March. Even the Humber froze with pack ice between the paddle steamers’ hulls and the piers making berthing difficult as can be seen in the picture above. The super low temperatures also caused the paddle wheels’ feathering gears to freeze up with the engineers thereby discovering the reason why pipes to provide steam jets had been fitted leading into the paddle boxes during the last really big freeze in January 1947.
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 19th January 2021.