On Wednesday 20th January 1937 in the yard of Denny of Dumbarton on the Clyde the framing of the paddle steamer Ryde was nearing completion. That job would be finished two days later on the Friday. On the following Monday morning work would start to rivet the steel plates to the frames to start building the hull.
This new paddle steamer, to replace the Duchess of Norfolk, had been ordered by the Southern Railway on 15th October 1936 for their Portsmouth to Ryde year round ferry service on a Board of Trade Class IV Passenger Certificate and for excursions in the summer on a Class III PC to seawards of the Categorised Waters limits for operation between April and October in daylight hours only. Delivery under the terms of the contract was to be in time for the 1937 summer season.
Ryde was not the only ship being built in the yard by Denny at that time. The paddle steamer Sawbra was about to be shipped off to Burma six days later and was in bits for reassembly there to join the Irrawaddy Flotilla. Also in the yard at the same time were the Royal Sovereign (initially to be named Continental Queen) for passenger excursion services on the Thames, Slieve Bawn a cattle and cargo steamer for the LMS railway service between Holyhead and Dublin, two Tribal class destroyers and one coastal minelayer Ashanti, Bedouin and Plover for the Royal Navy and the river towing vessel Katsena being built for the United Africa Company. She was to be fitted with the new fangled and state of the art Austrian manufactured Voith Schneider system of propulsion capable of pushing a ship in any direction. So Denny had a lot of work on at that time on a number of very diverse ships all being built to different standards and for very different commercial remits. The yard was really busy.
Ryde was launched on Friday 23rd April 1937, left Dennys on Tuesday 1st June and arrived at the Southern Railway yard in Southampton on Friday 4th June for the finishing touches to be applied before she entered service from Portsmouth.
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 20th January 2021.