By Saturday 26th February 1949 Lucy Ashton was now laid up with her boiler blown down in Bowling Harbour. Her passenger certificate had expired on Thursday 17th February. Surplus to requirements she was put up for sale after sailing for less than a year with the new British Railways’ British Transport Commission buff funnel.
In Bowling Harbour she remained until sold to Metal Industries (Salvage) Ltd and then towed away to their scrapyard at Faslane that December. There the superstructure was stripped away. The boiler and engine were removed but before the hull itself was demolished what was left of the ship was sold on to the British Shipbuilding Research Association to take part in various experiments.
Accordingly she was towed from Faslane to the Denny Shipyard at Dumbarton where she was fitted with four Derwent V aero jet engines as on deck propulsion units. Gone were the paddle wheels to push her along. Now she was a jet propelled ship.
Somewhat noisy trials were conducted during the summer in the Gare Loch and on the Clyde. and having provided facts and figures for the boffins to digest Lucy Ashton returned to Faslane in December 1950 to be broken up.
Tiny Pint of Detail: In common with their then company policy of naming ships after characters in the Gothic novels of Sir Walter Scott, Lucy Ashton is the heroine of the “Bride of Lammermoor” in which she falls in love with her family’s enemy Sir Edgar Ravenswood. The story is better known today through revivals of the opera by Donizetti “Lucia Di Lammermoor” which is loosely based on the Scott novel and in which Lucy becomes Lucia. After seven years galley work singing lesser roles and learning her craft at Covent Garden it was her stop the show knock out performances in this role in 1959 which rocketed Joan Sutherland from being a good and reliable house soprano into an international operatic superstar.
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 26th February 2021.