20th July 1997:
Kingswear Castle

20th July 1997:
Kingswear Castle
Kingswear Castle alongside Rochester Pier with costumed characters.

On Sunday 20th July 1997 Kingswear Castle ran one of our annual Teddy Bear Cruises to try to encourage a new generation to come aboard and fall in love with paddle steamers and paddle steaming.

Every child accompanied by a Teddy Bear and an adult travelled free and there were competitions with prizes to find the “prettiest”, “best dressed”, “oldest” and “most unusual” Teddy Bears. I am pleased to say that my annual suggestion of including an “Ugliest Teddy Bear” category was happily overruled by wiser heads as of course everybody, young and old, loves their Teddy.

The trip left Rochester Pier at 3pm and called in to collect more passengers at the Historic Dockyard Chatham at 3.30pm returning to the Dockyard at 5pm and Rochester at 5.30pm.

Tiny Point of Detail: On the subject of education of the young, any of you out there with an ear for music may already have twigged that KC’s paddle wheels beat to a musical time signature of 12/8.

Western music is based on either double rhythms ONE, two, ONE two, or ONE, two, THREE, four, ONE, two, THREE, four, for example as in a march; or triple rhythms ONE, two, three, ONE two three, like in a waltz.

Of course some time signatures are much more complex than that but nonetheless they are all constructed from these two basic building blocks. For example 6/8 has 6 quavers to the bar but a pulse of 2 beats to the bar so it becomes ONE, two, three, FOUR, five six, ONE, two, three, FOUR, five six and so on

Sometimes these double and triple rhythms can be combined in even more complicated time signatures such as 5/8 which has five quavers to the bar or 5/4 which has five crotchets to the bar. This gives a rather lopsided musical effect of ONE, two, THREE, four, five, ONE, two, THREE, four, five and so on.

The time signature of 4/4 has a pulse of four beats to the bar with each beat being a crochet in length and with each crochet divided into two quavers.

12/8 also has a pulse of four beats to the bar but here each beat is made up of a dotted crochet with each of these divided into three quavers. So in each bar there are four dotted crochets making up a total of twelve quavers which gives a rhythmic pulse of ONE, two, three, FOUR, five, six, SEVEN, eight nine, TEN, eleven, twelve.

Kingswear Castle’s two cylinder engine.

KC’s compound engine has two cylinders with the piston in each making four pulses going UP/DOWN, UP/DOWN for each rotation of the paddle wheels.

Kingswear Castle’s port paddle wheel.

Each of KC’s paddle wheels has 12 floats so for each of these UP or DOWN pulses 3 blades hit the water. So during one rotation of KC’s paddle wheels this gives the rhythm ONE, two, three, FOUR, five, six, SEVEN, eight nine, TEN, eleven twelve.

It is not so noticeable at slow speeds when the UP/DOWN, UP/DOWN stroke of each piston is less pronounced but when pushing on at speed listen out for, and feel, KC’s characteristic ONE, two, three, FOUR, five, six, SEVEN, eight nine, TEN, eleven, twelve paddle beat as she pounds along in the musical time signature of 12/8.

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.

John Megoran

John Megoran

This article was first published on 20th July 2021.