In early March 1957 a debate was raging in the pages of the Bournemouth Echo about the possible advantages of reintroducing Zostera weed to Poole Harbour to encourage wildlife and birds. On 4th March a report was printed of an interview with Mr E J Simmonds of Stanley Road Poole who was born in 1880 and was awash with memories of Poole Harbour from his youth.
He recalled that back then the area was full of it and that when he had looked out from Poole Quay “the harbour was one green field with the exception of the navigable channels and since the weed has gone the Sandbanks Peninsula has been cut off three times.” We must remember here that back then Sandbanks was yet to be developed into the millionaires’ paradise it has become today and was just a sandy beach sticking out from the western seaboard of Bournemouth protecting the eastern side of Poole Harbour from the sea.
He went on to say “Before the turn of the century when the beds of Zostera were still abundant there was not the rapid silting now prevalent in the harbour and there was less flooding.”
Mr Simmonds went on to recall travelling on Brodick Castle in his youth with the paper showing his picture of the crew aboard her with her master Captain Tilsed with a beard just to the right of the companionway. On his right is the mate Mr Harry Robertson who went on to become Pier Master at Bournemouth for many years.
Built in 1878 for services on the Clyde to Arran, Brodick Castle came to run from Bournemouth in 1887. She was bought by Cosens in 1902 and sold on in 1910 to become a cattle carrier in South America but foundered on her voyage out. Her last master was Captain Sydney Shippick who we have met several times before in these pages.
Mr Simmonds ended by recalling that Captain Tilsed had been given a clock inscribed “Presented to Captain Tilsed SS Brodick Castle by a few of the regular passengers in recognition of his uniform courtesy.”
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 March 2021.