On Sunday 28th April 1901 the freshly built Majestic was lying alongside at the shipyard of A & J Inglis (which 46 years later would build our own Waverley) with their naval architect and management scratching their heads as to how to improve the ship’s speed.
Majestic was the first truly “modern” paddle steamer built for Cosens of Weymouth with a flush deck providing a larger viewing platform for the passengers as well as added undercover saloon space on the main deck below. Pushed along by a triple expansion engine Majestic was Cosens’s answer to the threat posed to the longer distance excursion trade posed by P & A Campbell’s Cambria which had arrived on the scene based at Southampton in 1898 taking on and competing with Cosens and what became Red Funnel.
Get you magnifying glass out and in this picture you will see Majestic’s staysail furled from her forestay. This had two purposes. Firstly it leant a hand to turning the ship around in confined waters if the wind was blowing in a helpful direction. And secondly when set at sea, on for example a cross Channel voyage from Bournemouth to Cherbourg, it helped to dampen the rolling of the ship and so give a pleasanter and less roly poly ride for the passengers.
But back to Majestic lying in the shipyard of A & J Inglis on 28th April 1901. On her trials on the previous Thursday 25th she had failed to meet her design speed so heads were being scratched as to what to do about that. In the end a decision was taken to enlarge each of the paddle blades. This was done. It worked and on the subsequent trials after that Majestic exceeded her design speed. All was well.
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 28th April 2021.