Friday 23rd September was the last scheduled day of the 1955 season for Consul with an “Afternoon Tea Cruise to the Bill of Portland” advertised in the steamer notice for 3pm.
Consul was 175 feet long with a Gross Registered Tonnage of just 275 tons so she was fairly economic to operate requiring only about 60 passengers on a trip to cover the direct cost of her fuel and wages. It was therefore worth Cosens while keeping her in steam at the tail end of the season for just this handful of afternoon cruises as shown in this steamer notice which advertises afternoon “Special tea Cruises To The Bill of Portland, with teas supplied at moderate charges” on the Saturday, Sunday and Friday, “Cruise to the Shambles Lightship” on the Monday, “A Special Tea Cruise across Weymouth Bay towards Osmington and Ringstead, thence to Portland Harbour viewing HM Ships and Merchant Shipping” on the Tuesday with one hour cruises around Portland Harbour followed by landing cruises to Lulworth Cove giving an hour ashore on the Wednesday and Thursday.
The “Afternoon Tea Cruise, with teas supplied at moderate charges” was, I have always felt, more a marketing hook than a more general reality with the “Afternoon Tea” bit taken up by only a relatively small number of passengers.
You could buy a pot of tea in the small dining saloon aft, as we occasionally did, and it was nicely served in a china tea pot with hot water and milk jugs, sugar bowl, cups, saucers, plates and cutlery all with the Cosens logo on them. And you could also buy a slice of cake and/or a freshly made (including crab) sandwich, cut to order by the nice lady in the servery, as an add-on.
However the number which could be accommodated in the dining saloon was limited by its fairly small size and the fact that the footprint of a quarter of it on the port side was taken up by the Ladies lavatory.
This final week of sailings from Weymouth was a nice and gentle schedule to soak up the last knockings of what was left of the Weymouth season with the children long back in school and passenger numbers very much on the wane.
1955 was the last season Cosens based two paddle steamers at Weymouth. Empress had finished her season with an afternoon cruise to Lulworth Cove on Friday 9th September (on which Clifton Smith-Cox, P & A Campbell’s Managing Director, was a passenger) and by this Friday 23rd September was already in the scrapyard at Southampton.
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 September 2020.