On 6th April 1961 Jupiter was towed away from her berth in the Albert Harbour at Greenock, where she had lain since the end of the 1957 season, bound for the scrapyard of the Hammond Lane Foundry in Dublin.
Times were a changing on the Clyde. In 1953 four new cheap to run diesel twin screw passenger vessels Maid of Ashton, Maid of Argyll, Maid of Skelmorlie and Maid of Cumbrae had been built to carry passengers on the ferry routes at a more economical cost than the older paddle steamers.
They were soon joined by three new car ferries Arran, Bute and Cowal which found an immediate popularity with motorists eager to move about the Clyde with their cars. They were joined in 1957 by a slightly larger version called Glen Sannox.
After that Jupiter sailed no more and retreated to lay up in the Albert harbour at Greenock where she was put up for sale despite having been converted from coal to oil firing at massive cost just one year earlier. And this also despite the fact that she was still something of a spring chicken having been built as recently as 1937, just twenty years earlier, along with an identical sister Juno, for the LMS Clyde ferry services connecting Gourock and Wemyss Bay with Dunoon and Rothesay as well as connecting piers along the way. Times were a changing fast on the Clyde as the 1950s wore on.
Given her comparatively young age there were hopes that she might find a new career elsewhere. There was talk that she might go to Portsmouth to replace one of the coal-fired paddle steamers on the ferry run to Ryde but that came to nothing. There was talk that she might be sold to Cosens for their services to Swanage and the Isle of Wight from Bournemouth but nothing came of that either which is no great surprise in that at 642 GRT she was a big lump of a ship more than twice the tonnage Cosens’s Consul. And tonnage and operating costs are inextricably linked. Also Cosens had their own experience with their own Emperor of India of the additional and costly regulatory requirements which kick in for sea-going vessels over 500GRT.
Then there was talk that she was to be sold to Ulster Agencies Ltd, a firm set up to run excursions and undertake tender work in Irish waters. Hurrah a sale at last but sadly the promoter of this scheme died unexpectedly before the deal could be done so she was back on the market once again with the asking price falling steeply.
She was initially billed for sale at £50K (£1.3 million in today’s money). That sunk to £25K (about half a million today). By the autumn of 1960 Jupiter was advertised for only £9,500 (£234K today). In the end the scrap dealer got her for just £8,000 (£197K today).
And so on 6th April 1961 Jupiter was towed away from the Albert Harbour at Greenock to be scrapped in Dublin. She was only twenty four years old. That’s like scrapping a paddle steamer today built as recently as 1997.
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 6th April 2021.