The Bournemouth Echo for Friday 27th June 1958 records that on the previous Wednesday 25th June Embassy was unable to bring her passengers back from their day trip on the Isle of Wight to Bournemouth and Swanage due to the deteriorating weather conditions.
Embassy set off from Poole that day at 8am under the command of one of Cosens’ most experienced masters Captain Rawle, who gained his first paddle steamer command of Victoria way back in 1933.
Embassy called at Swanage at 9am where 108 passengers came aboard and then at Bournemouth at 10am where another 380 were loaded giving a total of 488 passengers for the crossing to Yarmouth where she was due to arrive at 11.30pm.
Unfortunately the wind freshened during the afternoon to such an extent that Captain Rawle judged that a return from the Isle of Wight to Bournemouth and Swanage on Embassy was not possible so she returned light ship to her overnight berth at Poole with her passengers put on the British Railways’ car ferry from Yarmouth to Lymington where they caught the train back to Bournemouth and Swanage.
Embassy ran these trips on her Board of Trade Class III Passenger Certificate. These are valid only from 1st April to 31st of October in daylight hours and in favourable weather when the sea is such as to cause only moderate rolling and pitching.
Of course the latter two requirements involve a value judgement. Different captains and different surveyors may take different views about what constitutes “favourable weather and when the sea is such as to cause only moderate rolling and pitching”. But if a then Board of Trade (today the Maritime and Coastguard Agency MCA) surveyor judged that the weather was, in his view, not favourable and the sea was such as to cause more than moderate rolling and pitching then he could have made the case that the Passenger Certificate was no longer valid and Captain Rawle could have been prosecuted for taking his ship to sea without a valid Passenger Certificate as two of the the conditions on it had been breached. Captain Rawle was an experienced paddle steamer master. He knew all this.
The following afternoon after Embassy’s inability to return her passengers to Bournemouth and Swanage, a spokesman for Cosens told the Echo “We are running normally today but are not getting the numbers.”
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 June 2021.