Consul’s first trip of the 1961 season from Weymouth to Swanage and Bournemouth was rostered for Tuesday 4th July. She was set to leave at 10am for a cruise along the beautiful Dorset Coast passing Lulworth Cove, Chapman’s Pool, St Albans Head, Dancing Ledge, Anvil and Peveril Points to pick up more passengers at Swanage at 1pm before continuing on to Bournemouth where she was due to arrive at 1.45pm.
With the paddle steamer Monarch having been withdrawn after the 1960 season, Cosens came to an agreement in 1961 with Croson, who operated the Bournemouth Belle, Poole Belle and Matapan from a jetty on the beach near Bournemouth Pier, to share the Swanage service with Embassy, assisted by Consul on her visits from Weymouth, and with them having first call on the timings and with Croson filling in the rest of the schedule as required.
At this point in the season Embassy ran the full Swanage service on Fridays and called at Swanage at 9am on her way to Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight on Tuesdays and Thursdays returning her passengers on 6.30pm departures from Bournemouth. Also on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Consul put in two round trips in the afternoons between Swanage and Bournemouth. On the other days Croson had the best timings although they did not have the route to themselves as the paddle steamer Swanage Queen, ex Freshwater, turned up on the scene to provide some most unwelcome competition.
Where in previous years on arriving at Bournemouth from Weymouth Consul had run an afternoon coastal cruise to Hengistbury Head, sometimes billed as “Towards the Needles Lighthouse”, in 1961 she left Bournemouth for Swanage at 2.30pm, picked up there at 3.30pm before returning to Bournemouth once again at 4.15pm.
Swanage Queen left Bournemouth at 3pm and Swanage at 4pm so that gave a return to the heady days after the war up to and including 1952 when there were two paddle steamers running on the Swanage service.
Swanage Queen’s owner Mr Herbert Jennings was not happy with the slots he was given for the service from Bournemouth Pier and was quoted in the press as saying “I am asked to delay my departures until my competitors have scooped up all the patronage, loaded up and sailed.” And that was no more than a statement of fact with Consul sailing off first at 2.30pm..
At 4.30pm Consul was rostered to set off back to Swanage and on along the Dorset coast to return to her staring point in Weymouth with a scheduled arrival time of 8.15pm.
After that her day wasn’t done. There was still a “A Grand Illumination Cruise” to view Weymouth’s “Fairylike” illuminations leaving the Pleasure Pier at 8.30pm with a return at 10pm. After that the day was still not done. Consul then had to paddle up the harbour to her overnight berth near the Town Bridge where her days started and finished.
Consul was rostered to run this schedule every Tuesday and Thursday in the ensuing weeks of 1961 up to and including Thursday 31st August which was to be her last call at Bournemouth. She made no calls at Swanage or Bournemouth in 1962 her last season in the ownership of Cosens.
Overall Consul’s 1961 season was based on around around 110 operating days. 16 of them were for long day trips to Swanage and Bournemouth. A couple were for the even longer day trips to Swanage and Totland Bay, Isle of Wight. The remaining 90+ were scheduled for morning, afternoon and evening local trips from Weymouth to Lulworth Cove, Portland Harbour, Portland Bill and the Shambles Lightship.
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 4th July 2020.