Bought from Red Funnel into private ownership Princess Elizabeth (pictured here alongside at Weymouth June 1963) tried her hand at Torquay in 1960 and 1961, was then engaged on the Bournemouth to Swanage service in 1962 and from 1963 to 1965 became Weymouth’s home based paddle steamer taking over the services previously abandoned by Cosens’s PS Consul at the end of the 1962 season.
She had spent the winter of 1962/63 on moorings off Hamworthy in Poole Harbour and had left for Southampton just before Whitsun for slipping at Camper & Nicholson’s Northam yard. She arrived in Weymouth (where she had spent the 1961/62 winter laid up) on Monday 17th June but it was another couple of weeks before she was ready to commence her service.
On Sunday 30th June Princess Elizabeth set off from Weymouth at 2pm for the one hour cruise around the warships in Portland Harbour followed at 3.15pm by what was billed as a “Dorset Coast Cruise viewing magnificent scenery – Durdle Door, Chapman’s Pool etc” due back at 5pm. My twelve year old self was quite excited about this as I had never been to Chapman’s Pool, a tiny cove tucked away just to the west of St Albans Head, before but my excitement waned when the Lizzie turned soon after passing Lulworth Cove (which as it happened hadn’t been advertised that day) leaving Chapman’s Pool still a distant dream being some 7 miles further on and requiring the Lizzie to run a 3 hour rather than 2 hour cruise from Weymouth to get there and back in the time. As the season wore on the “Dorset Coast Cruise” was quietly re-branded under the banner “Lulworth” and there were other changes to the schedule as well. The advertised day trips to Lyme Regis on alternate Tuesdays from 2nd July never took place as the Harbour Authority there remembered issues with the ship in 1961 and refused to accept her.
Sunday 30th June 1963 was an overcast day with the wind in the SW force 4 gusting force 5 but it was a happy day for me. After the disappointment of Consul’s withdrawal in September 1962 it seemed almost too good to be true that now there was another, and larger, paddle steamer in my home port taking over her service. With all the optimism of youth I imagined that the Lizzie would now become a permanent feature of the Weymouth scene and in all likelihood would go on for ever.
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 June 2021.