On Saturday 1st December 1940 Red Funnel’s paddle steamer Her Majesty was sunk in a German bombing raid on Southampton.
It was a devastating air attack which did much damage to the buildings, docks and infrastructure of the city. The following day the Southern Railway sent round from Portsmouth some heavy duty pumps and associated pipework on one of their paddle steamers to provide some help in trying to restore some sort of water supply.
Built in 1885, Her Majesty was an ever so slightly larger and enhanced sister of Princess Helena (1883) and Princess Beatrice (1880). All three were built by Barclay, Curle & Co on the Clyde with iron hulls and were intended primarily for the Southampton to Cowes ferry service.
In 1927 her saloon on the main deck aft was removed and her mast shifted on the foredeck to provide maximum open deck space for the carriage of cars. She continued in this guise being then used primarily at times of peak demand including summer Saturdays and occasionally for tendering liners anchored in the Solent where her open decks provided a good platform for transferring baggage and cargo.
The wreck was subsequently removed and the remains scrapped.
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 1st December 2020.