4th October 1919:
Duchess of Devonshire

4th October 1919:
Duchess of Devonshire
Duchess of Devonshire in the livery of P & A Campbell.

At 10am on Saturday 4th October 1919 Duchess of Devonshire returned to her winter lay-up berth at Exmouth from Bristol.

She left Bristol on Thursday 2nd October and spent the night anchored off Barry due to the wind. At 6am on Friday 3rd October she hauled up her anchor in Barry Roads,and set off down Channel on her return voyage to her home port of Exmouth on the South Coast. She passed Ilfracombe at 10am, rounded Lands End in the dark at 7.30pm and arrived at her destination at 10am the following morning where she laid up for the winter next to her sister, Duke of Devonshire, in Exmouth Dock.

Duke of Devonshire and Duchess of Devonshire in Exmouth Dock.

The Duchess had spent the seasons of 1917, 1918 and 1919 on charter to P & A Campbell running the Cardiff to Weston ferry service as all of Campbells’ own steamers were away on war service. 1919 saw the gradual return of their Ravenswood in June, Glen Avon in July, Cambria in August and Glen Usk in September so the Duchess spent the final part of her charter that summer based at Newport.

Duchess of Devonshire with her bow on the beach at Seaton.

The charter was not renewed in 1920 and the Duchess of Devonshire joined her sister the Duke of Devonshire and together they resumed their pre-war trips from Exmouth and Torquay along the Devon Coast.

Duchess of Devonshire loading over the bow on a Devon beach.

Longer day trips were run to Lyme Regis, Plymouth and sometimes Weymouth as well as shorter excursions to Dartmouth and Dittisham as well as to the beaches at West Bay, Seaton, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Brixham, St Mary’s Bay, Blackpool Sands, Slapton Sands and Hallsands where they used a special landing gear for loading and unloading their passengers over the bow.

Engine and boiler of Duchess of Devonshire on the beach at Sidmouth 1934.

Unfortunately on Monday 27th August 1934 the Duchess grounded on a pile on a very low tide on the beach at Sidmouth around lunchtime on a trip from Torquay which in the slight swell punctured the hull.

The ship’s own bilge pumps were inadequate to stem the inflow of water so larger pumps and a tug were summoned but during the night the Duchess slewed round the other way causing further damage.

So on the beach at Sidmouth the Duchess of Devonshire remained until finally broken up.

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.

John Megoran

John Megoran

This article was first published on 4th October 2020.