On Saturday 30th December 1967 Queen of the South, ex Jeanie Deans, was in the scrapyard on the River Scheldt in Antwerp.
The failure of the business cost her owner Don Rose dear both financially and emotionally. What would he do now? How would he live? Casting around for ideas he remembered a pub called The Ship just by Rochester Pier on the Medway where he had embarked on a launch to take him out to the Jeanie Deans, which was moored on buoys off the Chatham Dockyard, shortly after her arrival from the Clyde in November 1965. Coincidentally it was up for sale. On an impulse he bought it and there he remained as landlord for the rest of his life.
And it was from The Ship that Don re-entered the business of operating excursion boats once again buying the 100-passenger launch Queen of Kent which he put into service running on the Medway, across to Southend and upriver to Aylesford. She was still there in 1985 when we returned KC to service on the Medway. Chris Smith, who became my right-hand man at Chatham, worked on her. Even though we were competitors, Don was pleased to see a paddle steamer on the river once again and sailed with us on several occasions.
In Antwerp Queen of the South was broken up although a little bit of her lived on. The outer facing of her starboard paddle box was bought by an antiques dealer who fitted it up on the outside wall of his brasserie in Genk which is called Queen of the South. I believe that it remains there to this day.
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 30th December 2020.