Having planned to leave Weymouth at the end of January poor weather delayed her departure for a whole month to Wednesday 1st March 1961 when she finally got away under tow of the tug Salvonia bound for Haulbowline Industries’ scrapyard in Cork.
Built as Shanklin in 1924 for the Southern Railway service between Portsmouth and Ryde she was bought by Cosens & Co in 1951. They renamed her Monarch, after their original Monarch built in 1888 which had been sent for scrap at Milford Haven in 1950.
From 1951 to 1960 Monarch was based at Poole each summer and mostly ran backwards and forwards on the Bournemouth/Swanage service although she did sail to Totland Bay and Yarmouth Isle of Wight from time to time particularly at the start and finish of seasons. She ventured further afield very occasionally. For example she was running from Southampton during the Coronation Naval Review in 1953. She sailed to Portsmouth in June 1960 to welcome the Royal Yacht Britannia with Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones aboard after their honeymoon. And I have seen a picture of her in Cowes deputising for Embassy on a day when she had an issue with her bow rudder.
Each winter she laid up in the Weymouth Backwater.
I liked Monarch. She had a sort of old fashioned feel about her with her tall funnel, coal-fired boiler and these open alleyways on the main deck around her aft saloon. Indeed if I was forced to make a choice I think that I would vote her to be my favourite paddle steamer of all those I sailed on in youth.
She arrived in Cork for demolition just under two days later. She was 37 years old. That’s like scrapping a paddle steamer today built in 1984, the year I first took command of KC.
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 March 2021.