On Monday 22nd August 1955 Britannia ran the long day trip from Bristol and Cardiff to Ilfracombe in place of Bristol Queen.
Bristol Queen had been re-rostered to take over the Cardiff/Weston ferry from the Glen Usk which had damaged her rudder at Newport late on the night of Friday 18th August.
When approaching the pontoon at Newport at about half past eleven in the dark that evening the heaving line failed to get ashore and so Glen Usk was caught by the ebb tide and, whilst the anchor was being cleared to be dropped, the stern touched the river bank causing the ship to swing round. She came off and managed to drop the anchor so came round the right way again on that and so made a second, and this time successful, attempt to berth at the pontoon.
After unloading her passengers she swung on the pontoon and then proceeded outward bound down river when it became clear that there was an issue with the rudder as the ship was carrying a lot of helm. She eventually came to anchor in Cardiff Roads and arrangements were made for her to go into drydock at Avonmouth later on the morning of Saturday 20th August for repairs and for the schedules of Bristol Queen and Glen Usk to be re-arranged to provide the necessary cover.
The work to repair Glen Usk’s rudder was completed on Monday 22nd August. She returned to service the following day and normality was resumed.
However three weeks later Britannia was herself in difficulty and had to be withdrawn from service earlier than planned on Wednesday 14th September with paddle wheel trouble. This necessitated recommissioning Cardiff Queen, which had already finished her scheduled season, to take her place on the roster from Saturday 17th September until Monday 27th September.
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 22nd August 2020.