On Friday 4th September 1953 both Consul and Empress were rostered to visit Lulworth Cove with the one bringing passengers from Bournemouth and Swanage and the other from Weymouth..
Both were scheduled to start their days at their up river berths at Weymouth close to the Town Bridge as usual. They would then have backed down the harbour to the Pleasure Pier to be ready to load their passengers about half an hour before they were first due to leave.
First away at 9.30am was Consul which was advertised for a day trip to Swanage and Totland Bay, Isle of Wight, due back at 8.15pm.
Meanwhile Embassy was scheduled to leave Poole Quay at 9.15am for Bournemouth Pier with a departure time of 10.45am for a “Coasting trip to Lulworth Cove” giving about an hour and a half ashore.
Embassy did not have a gate cut into her forward bulwark on the port side as did Consul and Empress and could therefore not accept the Lulworth Cove beach landing gear. In any case she was thought to be unsuitable for landing at Lulworth as she had a bow rudder which might have been susceptible to damage when running the bow up onto the beach.
So the arrangement was for both Consul and Embassy to arrive at Swanage Pier, the one from Weymouth and the other from Bournemouth, at around 11.30am. Consul’s Isle of Wight passengers then changed to the Embassy and Embassy’s Lulworth Cove passengers transferred to Consul. Embassy then set off for Totland Bay and Consul for Lulworth. It was a neat arrangement so long as everything worked out.
Back at Weymouth, Empress was scheduled for two round trips from Weymouth to Lulworth Cove, the first at 10.30am and the second at 3pm with a one hour “Cruise Round Warships and Merchant Shipping in Portland Harbour” slotted in between with a departure from Weymouth timed for 1.45pm.
So on this day two different paddle steamers visited Lulworth Cove with Empress from Weymouth making two visits and Consul, with passengers from Bournemouth and Swanage, making one call.
As you can see from the steamer notice above on the following afternoon Saturday 5th September either Consul or Empress were scheduled to ferry passengers out to visit a warship moored in the bay with departures from Weymouth at 1.30pm. 2.30pm and 3.30pm with the other running an afternoon cruise to Lulworth Cove due away at 3pm and offering one hour ashore due back at 6pm.
I don’t know which ship was rostered for which service but I think it likely that Consul ran to the warship as she had the larger passenger capacity and such trips were very popular.
In those days many warships had sticky out bits on their sides so to obviate the possibility of the stays on Consul’s mast catching on such things she generally sailed on such trips with her mast stowed as in the picture above. This was possible because the mast did not pass down through the foredeck as usually fitted but was accommodated in a deck tabernacle which allowed it to fold back.
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 September 2020.