Thursday 23rd October was the last day of the season at Bournemouth in 1947 and was operated by Red Funnel’s Bournemouth Queen which had run the services for this last week on her own.
1947 was the first full season after the Second World War at Bournemouth and it was a cracker with passengers flocking aboard after all the misery and austerity of the war. Cosens fielded their Embassy freshly converted to oil firing during the previous winter and their coal-fired Monarch. Red Funnel fielded their oil-fired Princess Elizabeth plus initially their newly acquired Upton which proved to be unsuitable for work alongside Bournemouth Pier and was therefore returned to run from Southampton. Their newly rebuilt, but still coal-fired, Bournemouth Queen arrived on 21st July.
In the peak weeks the pattern was for two paddle steamers to pack the passengers in on the forty five minute run across Poole Bay to Swanage backwards and forwards all day. And for the other two to run day trips to Yarmouth, Isle of Wight (the pier at Totland Bay was still closed) and further afield.
Departure times were staggered with one at 10.15am, the second at 10.30am and the first Swanage boat at 10.45am. Passengers for each trip were queued ashore and then allowed onto the pier for each particular sailing. And with each ship at that stage capable of packing in more than 700 that meant that on some days in the peak weeks almost 3,000 passengers had walked down Bournemouth pier to board the steamers by 11.15am. That’s a lot of traffic.
Let’s look at the week commencing Saturday 2nd August 1947 to see how each of the other paddle steamers was scheduled. And remember that they all started and finished their days at Poole sometimes coming to and from Bournemouth direct and sometimes via Swanage.
- Sunday 3rd August: 2.30pm Cruise to view the warships in Portland harbour also picking up at Swanage. Due back 7.45pm
- Monday 4th August: 2.15pm Yarmouth for one hour ashore or stay aboard for a cruise to Southampton Water due back 8pm
- Tuesday 5th August: 10.15am to Yarmouth and Ryde for time ashore leaving Ryde 3.20pm, Yarmouth 5.10pm for Bournemouth 6.30pm
- Wednesday 6th August: 10.30pm To Yarmouth and Round the Isle of Wight with time ashore at Ryde leaving at 3.45pm back 6.30pm
- Thursday 7th August: 10.15am Yarmouth, Ryde and cruise round Portsmouth Harbour leaving Ryde 3.20pm due back 6.30pm
- Friday 8th August: 10.15am To Yarmouth Round the Isle of Wight due back 6.30pm
- Saturday 9th August: 2.15pm Yarmouth and cruise to Cowes Roads back 6.30pm
- Saturday 2nd August: 2.15pm Yarmouth and cruise to Cowes Roads leaving Yarmouth 5.10pm due back 6.30pm
- Sunday 3rd August: 2.15pm Yarmouth and cruise to Southampton Water due back Yarmouth 6.30pm and Bournemouth 8pm
- Monday 4th August: Swanage service
- Tuesday 5th August: 10.30am Yarmouth and Round the Isle of Wight with time ashore at Ryde leaving 3.20pm due back 6.30pm
- Wednesday 6th August: Swanage service
- Thursday 7th August: 10.30am Round the Isle of Wight calling at Ryde due back 6.30pm
- Friday 8th August: 2.15pm Yarmouth and Solent Cruise laving Yarmouth 5.10pm due back 6.30pm
- Sunday 3rd August: Swanage service
- Monday 4th August: 10.15am Yarmouth and Southampton for time ashore. Leaving 3pm, Yarmouth 5.10pm due back 6.30pm
- Tuesday 5th August: Swanage service
- Wednesday 6th August: 10.15am Yarmouth and Southampton for time ashore. Leaving 3pm, Yarmouth 5.10pm due back 6.30pm
- Thursday 7th August: Swanage service
- Friday 8th August: Swanage service
- Sunday 10th August: Swanage service
Although Monarch occasionally ventured further afield during the season generally speaking she was the bedrock of the Swanage service accompanied Sunday to Friday by either Bournemouth Queen or Princess Elizabeth.
On Saturdays, which were change over day for visitors to Bournemouth, only two paddle steamers were rostered with one running an afternoon cruise to the Isle of Wight and the other on the Swanage service. These were divvied up between all four ships so that each could have a day off in turn.
Thursday 23rd October 1947 was the latest date for the season to close at Bournemouth in any of the post war years. Subsequently it was usually brought to a close around the end of the second week in October. Then into the 1950s in early October and in the final years sometime around the third week in September.
The great crowds which had flocked aboard in 1947 began to wane and as the 1950s wore on they diminished ever further. As the years rolled by the buoyant market for long day trips disappeared as did the afternoon cruises on the Solent from Yarmouth for which latterly there just weren’t enough takers.
By 1963 there was just Embassy left and she soldiered on alone until 1966. And that was that.
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 23rd October 2020.