On Tuesday 21st June 1949 Emperor of India was scheduled for a two hour trip leaving Weymouth at 1.15pm to view HMS Anson leaving Portland with Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh aboard bound for the Channel Islands.
This day the Embassy was scheduled to leave Poole at 8.30am for Bournemouth at 10am and Swanage at 10.45am for the run along the Dorset Coast past Peverill Point, Durlston Head, Anvil Point, St Albans Head, Chapman’s Pool, Kimmeridge, Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, White Nothe and Osmington on to Weymouth where she was due to arrive before 1pm so positioning her at Weymouth for the rest of the peak weeks of the summer.
Emperor was already waiting at Weymouth to make her first trip of the season on this Special Cruise at 1.15pm.
With the return of the Emperor to service after the War in 1948 and the Consul in 1949 Cosens really had too many paddle steamers for the available market. During the peak weeks of 1949, and for this summer only after the War, they based no less than four of their paddle steamers, Embassy, Consul, Victoria and Empress, at Weymouth with the Emperor joining them usually a couple of days a week to provide a short afternoon cruise around Portland Harbour from the resort aboard their largest and most luxurious paddle steamer.
The fare for this almost two hour long trip was just 3/- which scales up to around £5.40 in today’s money. This was, and is, a very modest price to pay for a trip on one of the most luxurious paddle steamers of the time on the South Coast. It was aimed at targeting a mass market to fill the ship up with a not so well off clientele. By comparison, today the 12 seater motor boats which offer one hour trips round Portland Harbour from Weymouth charge a fare of £10 per head.
After running her two hour cruise from Weymouth, Emperor was due away from at 3.15pm to take Embassy’s passengers back to Swanage 5.45pm and Bournemouth 6.30pm and then on to overnight at Poole thereby positioning her for her main summer season at running from Bournemouth.
It was a neat way to swap Embassy and Emperor round between Bournemouth and Weymouth on scheduled runs and so avoiding the cost of positioning the ships without passengers.
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 21st June 2021.