On Wednesday 2nd May 1934 Sandown was in the fitting out basin at Denny’s yard at Dumbarton having been launched the day before.
She had been ordered on 30th November 1933 by the Southern Railway for the Portsmouth to Ryde ferry service as a slightly larger replacement for the Duchess of Kent and was designed to carry 930 Passengers on a Class IV Passenger Certificate within the Solent and 890 on a Class III.
It had been a busy spring for Denny. Princess Maud, built for the London, Midland And Scottish Railway Stranraer to Larne service, the paddle steamer Caledonia for the LMS Clyde operations and the paddle driven ferries Robert the Bruce /em> and Queen Margaret for the ferry across the Forth, had all left the yard in March as had three 85ft creek motor vessels for the Irrawaddy Flotilla in Burma. The two Forth ferries were particularly interesting in that as an experiment Denny built one with traditional riveted construction and the other by the then new fangled method of welding to compare the relative costs. History tells us how that experiment panned out.
Lochnevis was also in the yard at the same time as Sandown being built for McBrayne’s passenger, cargo, mail and cattle run between Mallaig and Portree on Skye. However after that Denny’s order book was a little bit empty. This would change later in the year with more orders flooding in doubtless as a result of touting for business around ship owners and operators but at the time it must have been a bit of a worry as no manager of a shipyard wants to see no orders in his book when the next one is complete.
Sandown notched up 14.475 knots on trials with a load of 611 tons aboard and with the engine turning at 54.36 rpm.
With the arrival of Sandown, Duchess of Kent was not sold for scrap but had a new lease of life first as the Clacton Queen running for the New Medway Steam Packet Company between Ipswich and Clacton and between Strood and Southend.
They sold her on in November 1935 to the Mersey & Blackpool Steamship Company, a new outfit which renamed her Jubilee Queen, and planned on running her between Liverpool, New Brighton, Blackpool and Fleetwood. This service started at Easter 1936 and ran intermittently until 2nd June when it ceased. The ship was then transferred to the Jubilee Shipping Company which ran her on a handful of days from Liverpool after which she was sold to Mr S B Kelley who on 9th August inaugurated a new service from Barrow in Furness to Fleetwood. He planned to make calls at Blackpool when the tide was right but that idea was abandoned within days of the service starting. Jubilee Queen continued on and off into early September and was scrapped in May 1937.
It was a sorry story, the like of which we have seen repeated from time to time elsewhere around the country over the decades in the excursion business with an elderly paddle steamer requiring major expenditure on her fabric and structure being put back into service by a management high on optimism and dreams of glory but low on the necessary technical skill sets and dosh to deliver it. Think Consul, Princess Elizabeth and Queen of the South in the 1960s to name just three.
But from the end of one career back to the start of another. Sandown left the Denny yard on 11th June 1934 and arrived in Southampton on 18th shiny and new ready to start running backwards and forwards between Portsmouth and Ryde.
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 2nd May 2021.