On 19th October 1961 P & A Campbell’s coal-fired paddle steamer Glen Usk was towed out from Penarth Dock to Cardiff by the tugs Loyal Celt and Carolyn Davies, where she joined her consorts Bristol Queen and Cardiff Queen.
After the financial difficulties of the company and its rescue by George Nott Industries Glen Usk and Cardiff Queen ran for Campbells in 1959 and 1960 but for 1961 flagship Bristol Queen was returned to service leaving Glen Usk languishing for the whole summer season in Penarth. With the closure of Penarth Docks imminent she therefore had to be moved.
Rumours were circulating about the future operations of the company at that time with a suggestion that for 1962 Bristol Queen might go to the South Coast to revive cross Channel trips to France in association with Townsend Ferries and that Glen Usk might be converted to oil firing for more service on the Bristol Channel with Cardiff Queen.
Cosens of Weymouth had removed the oil firing equipment from the ex Mersey ferry J Farley during their conversion of her into a static research ship for the Admiralty Underwater Weapons establishment at Portland in 1952. It was said that this kit would be just the job for Glen Usk and using it would be a cheap way of converting her to oil.
In the end nothing came of all this. Bristol Queen and Cardiff Queen were back in service on the Bristol Channel in 1962. Glen Usk remained laid up at Cardiff and was not converted to oil. In April 1963 she was towed away for scrapping in Cork.
19th October 1961 was therefore the last date that Glen Usk could be said to have entered a British port albeit as a dead ship under tow rather than under her own steam.
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 October 2020.