After passing through the Town Bridge to berth alongside the Pleasure Pier at the harbour mouth, Monarch left Weymouth under tow on Thursday 23rd February 1950 for a voyage along the Dorset, Devon and Cornish coasts and then across the Bristol Channel past Lundy Island to Milford Haven where she arrived at the breaker’s yard late on the Friday 24th.
Tiny Point of Detail 1: Note in the picture at the top that Cosens have removed Monarch’s lifeboats. They remained in Weymouth.
Tiny Point of Detail 2: Note also in the picture that Monarch was wearing those distinctive funnel covers which Cosens knocked up for all their steamer to keep rain water out of the funnels in the winter. As you can see they also had a little mini chimney on top of them to allow for ventilation and as an escape route for any slight smoke from any tiny warming fire if ever one was put in the boiler in the darkest depths of winter. I had one of these funnel covers in the same style made up for KC in the early days and used to like looking at it on top of the funnel as it reminded me of the Cosens paddle steamers I had known so well as a boy.
Then one year we were taking it off. The lashings were released to free it up but before we could bring it down a big gust of wind came in and blew it off. Splash it fell into the Medway at Thunderbolt Pier. The following day I hired a diver to go down to look for it but try as he might he couldn’t find it in the murky mud laden waters of the river. So it is still there somewhere. Perhaps one day it will wash up on the shoreline somewhere near Hoo Island. Maybe then some future and budding maritime archaeologist, not unlike Mr Pickwick, may uncover it lying in the mud and then ponder and pontificate amongst his learned colleagues at a future equivalent of the Pickwick Club as to what this strange and curious object of unquestionable antiquity actually is and what it was used for in the first place.
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 24th February 2021.