On Tuesday 5th May 1953 Cosens’s paddle steamers Monarch and Embassy left Weymouth at the crack of dawn for Southampton where they entered the same drydock shortly after mid-day. This picture of Monarch was taken by Peter Ford in the early evening of the same day and clearly shows the walkways around her aft saloon at main deck level, the large wooden “box” containing her steam steering gear with the emergency steering wheel emerging from it right aft and the mushroom ventilators aft and on the promenade deck near the lifeboats which were part of an early style ventilation system designed to draw in air mechanically and circulate it to the accommodation below through pipes. The machinery for this was in the dome shaped structure at the aft end of the promenade deck just by the aft mushroom ventilators.
Monarch would spend most of the ensuing summer of 1953 paddling backwards and forwards between Bournemouth and Swanage with departures from Bournemouth scheduled for 10.30am, 2.30pm and 4.15pm and with a 6pm sailing carrying on to overnight at Poole after the call at Swanage at 6.45pm. In the peak weeks there was an additional round trip scheduled to leave Bournemouth at 12.15pm.
Monarch’s last trips of the season in 1953 were scheduled for Friday 25th September after which she sailed for winter layup in Weymouth.
Monarch, which as Shanklin had been a mainstay of the Portsmouth to Ryde railway connection since being built in 1924, was bought by Cosens in 1951. She was withdrawn after the 1960 season and towed away to be scrapped in Cork in March 1961.
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 May 2019.