On Thursday 5th February 1964 work commenced on the refit of Red Funnel’s Balmoral berthed outside the workshops of Cosens & Co in Weymouth. She had arrived the previous day and backed down the harbour with the assistance of two small work boats, one on the bow and the other on the stern and dredging her anchor, on through the Town Bridge into the Backwater.
Red Funnel bought 70% of the shares in Cosens in 1946 so it made sense to send some of their own boats for refit work to be done on them by a company that they partly owned. Their Medina came to Weymouth in the late 1950s and both Vecta and Balmoral were regular visitors onwards through the 1960s.
There were no dry docking facilities in Weymouth and Cosens’s own slipway was not man enough to take these vessels so underwater work on them was done at Southampton. At Weymouth Cosens worked on their machinery, painted and varnished everything above the waterline as well as doing other repairs and maintenance as necessary.
When they first came to Weymouth both Vecta and Balmoral had nice cream painted lines around their hulls at main deck level and a brown line separating the cream upper works from the hull black. I always thought that these lines made them look a bit distinguished. However they had gone by 1964. Painting in lines costs money. Running excursion vessels was by then becoming a very marginal activity. Costs were monitored everywhere and any saving, however small, that could be made was made.
That winter the work took about four weeks and Balmoral sailed out through the Town Bridge on Wednesday 4th March 1964 before setting off to be be slipped back home at Southampton.
Tiny Point of Detail: Look in the bottom left hand corner of this picture and you will see the bow of the paddle steamer Consul laid up after her disastrous summer season in private ownership in 1963 trying to make a living running from Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings as well as taking a short charter to Don Rose on the Thames in September.
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 February 2021.