Balmoral was Red Funnel’s largest, fastest and most commodious excursion paddle steamer. Built to counter competition from P & A Campbell at the turn of the century she was in fact a bit too big and ever proved hard to fill to capacity except at peak times. She had proportionately higher operating costs and accordingly ran the shortest operating season of all the vessels in their fleet.
So what was she doing in a typical week at the height of the summer in 1934? Let’s take a look:
Sunday 22nd July: Leave Southampton (8am) for Southsea (9am), Sandown (9.45am) and Shanklin (10am) for Cherbourg (1.45pm – 4.15pm) for Shanklin (7.55pm), Sandown (8.10pm), Southsea (8.55pm) and Southampton (10pm).
Monday 23rd July: Leave Southampton (7.15am) for for Southsea (8.15am), Sandown (9am) and Shanklin (9.15am) for Cherbourg (1pm – 4.15pm) for Shanklin (7.55pm), Sandown (8.10pm), Southsea (8.55pm) and Southampton (10pm).
Tuesday 24th July: Leave Southampton (7am) for Bournemouth (9am) for Cherbourg (1pm – 4pm) for Bournemouth (8pm) for Southampton (10pm).
Wednesday 25th July: Leave Southampton (9am) for Ryde (10am), Southsea (10.25am) and Eastbourne (2pm – 4.15pm) for Southsea (7.50pm), Ryde (8.15pm) and Southampton (9.30pm).
Thursday 26th July: Leave Southampton (7am) for Bournemouth (9am) for Cherbourg (1pm – 4pm) for Bournemouth (8pm) for Southampton (10pm).
Friday 27th July: Balmoral is not mentioned as running any specific trips on this day in this week but she may have substituted for Lorna Doone to give her a day off in which case her schedule would have been: Leave Southampton (9am) for Ryde (10am), Southsea (11am), Sandown (12pm), Shanklin (12.15pm and Ventnor (12.35pm) for Swanage (3pm – 4.30pm) for Ventnor (6.55pm), Shanklin (7.15pm) Sandown (7.30pm), Southsea (8.35pm), Ryde (9pm) and Southampton (10pm).
Saturday 28th July: Day off.
Sunday 29th July: Leave Southampton (9am) for Ryde (10am), Southsea (10.20am), Sandown (11.20am) and Shanklin (11.35am) for Brighton (2pm – 4.30pm) for Shanklin (7pm), Sandown (7.15pm), Southsea (8.15pm), Ryde (8.35pm) and Southampton (9.45pm)
So that was a lot of steaming this week as usual and a lot of fuel burnt tearing along at 18+ knots. (Balmoral clocked up 19.5knots on her trials). Essentially during this week she ran to Cherbourg on four days, twice from Southampton, Southsea and the Isle of Wight piers and twice from Southampton and Bournemouth. On two days she ran eastwards, once to Eastbourne via Ryde and Southsea and once to Brighton via Southsea and the Isle of Wight piers. And on the basis that she relieved Lorna Doone on the Friday she ran once from Southampton, Southsea and the Isle of Wight piers south about to Swanage. In other weeks she was sometimes rostered to run a trip to Weymouth.
So there we are. That is a typical week in the summer life of Balmoral.
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 3rd August 2021.