On Monday 5th August Consul was scheduled to run one hour Coastal Cruises from Brighton’s Palace Pier at 11.30am and 2.15pm and a two hour Channel Cruise at 3.30pm before setting off back to her overnight berth at Newhaven at 5.45pm.
This was Consul’s first season in ownership of South Coast and Continental steamers Ltd. a company set up by the 26 year old entrepreneur Tony McGinnity with support from PSPS member No. 1 Mrs. Eileen Pritchard. It did not go well.
The Board of Trade had a particularly picky attitude towards elderly paddle steamers which changed hands in the 1960s and gave their inexperienced owners and managers all manner of grief and expense complying with their onerous and unexpected requirements.
It was not until Monday 15th July that Consul eventually arrived at Newhaven with a view to starting her new season sailing from the Sussex Coast piers.
When she did sail her loadings were sometimes quite good as can be seen in this picture but weather put a stop to many of her advertised cruises and breakdowns, not least with her steering gear, curtailed others.
Tony McGinnity was ever on the ‘phone to Bob Wills, one of Consul’s former Chief engineers in her days with Cosens, and he was a tower of strength providing helpful advice to fix problems.
Bob had been aboard as her Chief Engineer when she left Poole after her refit and I recall him telling me that when approaching the Needles the fuel pump packed up. He went down to the boiler room to work on fixing it and after a while noticed Capt Harry Defrates’ presence in his full uniform hovering in the boiler room door asking how long it would take fix as they were not that far off the Needles. Bob said that he thought it would take a while so why didn’t they drop the anchor. Captain Defrates replied “We can’t. We haven’t got enough anchor chain”. This sort of thing was pretty typical for Consul in 1963.
In September Consul was chartered by PSPS member Don Rose for a “Week’s Frolic” on the Thames but that is another story for another day.
For those who like collecting such statistics, Consul in 1963 was the last paddle steamer ever to call at Brighton’s Palace Pier.
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 5th August 2021.