The operational career of Red Funnel’s Duchess of Cornwall finished at the end of March 1949.
She had been built in 1896 by Barclay Curle on the Clyde as Duchess of York for what became Red Funnel for excursions, tender work and the Southampton/Cowes ferry service on which she spent much of her career.
To her fell the honour of restarting excursions from Southampton after the Second World War when in July 1945 she took a party of happy trippers to Ryde. However as other members of the fleet were reconditioned after the war she lost her place as a passenger carrying ship and from 1946 took on a cargo role on the Cowes ferry which she shared with Lord Elgin.
Her nemesis was the arrival on the scene of the former tank landing craft LCT828 which Red Funnel bought in March 1947 and converted for use as a drive on ferry on the Cowes route under the name Norris Castle coupled with the addition to the fleet of the newly built Balmoral.
After the arrival of the Norris Castle, the Duchess of Cornwall was retained on the cargo service for the 1948 season whilst this new fangled concept bedded in but she made her last sailings for the company at the end of March 1949 and that was that. She was scrapped at Northam, a suburb of Southampton in December.
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 March 2021.