Having finally completed her overhaul by Cosens, Bristol Queen was moved out from the Weymouth Backwater and through the Town Bridge on Thursday 25th April 1963 with Capt John Iliffe as pilot. He had re-joined Cosens as master of the Consul in 1962 but with her withdrawal at the end of that season, he was moved onto Embassy displacing her master Capt Cyril Holleyoak who was sacked.
It had been a long winter for Bristol Queen. She had arrived in Weymouth on 13th November and work commenced straight away with a view to completion early in the New Year. However, weather and other circumstances had different ideas.
In December snow started to fall, which is quite a rarity in Weymouth sticking out as it does into the English Channel. More snow followed cutting the town off completely from the outside world. With the snow the temperatures dropped dramatically and remained glacial for more than two months making 1962/63 one of the coldest winters on record in the United Kingdom. There was nationwide disruption including with the railways which somehow managed to loose a truck containing a new set of boiler tubes destined for Weymouth for installation in the Bristol Queen.
In early March the thaw set in. Temperatures rose. New boiler tubes were sourced. By 25th April Bristol Queen was ready to go so off she went that weekend steaming back to Cardiff under the command of Capt Jack George to make final preparations for her Bristol Channel season which opened on 11th May.
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 25th April 2021.