Whit Sunday 21st May 1961 was Consul’s second day in service of the 1961 season and the second day running a shuttle between the Pleasure Pier at Weymouth and the stone jetty at Castletown, Portland, ferrying passengers for the Portland Dockyard Navy Days. Departures were from Weymouth on the hour every hour from 12 noon until 6pm with returns on the half hour from Castletown. A ticket inclusive of entry to the naval base was sold before boarding at Weymouth which enabled passengers to avoid the long queues at the dockyard itself.
That season Consul’s master should have been Capt Harry Defrates who was moved from Monarch after she was sold that winter. So when Dad and I went aboard for our first trip of the season we were surprised to find a different master getting ready in Consul’s captain’s cabin.
The following week, Capt Defrates and his wife popped in to see us at our home to bring us up to date and told us that he had been recruited by Cdr Edmund Rhodes to take command of the Princess Elizabeth then based at Torquay and so had left Cosens. He also said that Don Brookes, Cosens’s general manager, was not best pleased at his going so soon before the season which of course is understandable. Anyway to my 10 year old self the disappointment of him having left Consul was balanced by the great excitement of the prospect of discovering a new paddle steamer in a new location. And I was thrilled with the Torquay steamer notice he left with us and got out all our maps and charts to find out where the places mentioned were.
Scratching their heads to find a new master for Consul at short notice, Cosens hit upon Capt Cyril “Chum” Holleyoak, brother of the Weymouth Harbour Master. He had a master’s ticket. He was free. So he was recruited and it was him who we found in the captain’s cabin when we went aboard Consul this weekend.
Capt Holleyoak remained in command of Consul for the 1961 season, with Arthur Drage formerly of Monarch, as his chief officer before moving to Embassy in 1962 when her master, Capt Haines left Cosens to become a Poole pilot.
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 May 2021.