Regular readers of these posts will need no introduction to Captain Sydney Shippick. For any who don’t know he started off as a mate with Cosens, set up on his own account, founded the New Medway Steam Packet Company of which he was Managing Director and then retired to live between Bournemouth where he grew up and Jersey. So he was a highly experienced marine professional ship operator, ship master and manager. He was a man who knew his onions inside out, outside in or any other which way you might wish to serve them.
Captain Shippick seems to have been quite a regular correspondent with newspapers with some of his missives being maybe seen as a tad critical of other operators including his earlier employer Cosens & Co of Weymouth. There is nothing of that in this letter which just fills in a little bit of history and his own previous involvement on the scene.
It was written and published in the Echo on 7th February 1957 around the time that there had been other correspondence in the paper about the recent withdrawal and sale for scrap of the paddle steamer Emperor of India and that, as a result, for the 1957 season Cosens would base just two paddle steamers at Poole, Embassy and Monarch for service from Bournemouth with fairly regular visits to the pier from their Weymouth based Consul.
The Rouge Bouillon address from which Captain Shippick writes was then a well to do part of St Helier on Jersey much favoured by the better off from England, Ireland, the East Indies and Canada looking for a home, or holiday home in which to winter, in the pleasant climate which the Channel Islands was said to offer.
Tiny Point of Detail: In the picture above the man third from the right in the front row is Captain Tommy Aldis on the occasion of being presented with a DSC for his part in the incident involving the Royal Sovereign which struck a mine off Penarth on 9th December 1940 whilst on a positioning run from the Clyde round to the Thames.
They were coming into Cardiff to bunker with a local pilot aboard in a channel supposedly swept of mines when she hit one. The mate was killed by falling concrete blocks fitted on top of the wheelhouse supposedly to protect those inside it from air attack and both the pilot and Captain Aldis were seriously injured although both managed to get themselves and the rest of the crew into a tug which came out to assist.
Tommy Aldis had been master with the New Medway Steam Packet Company in the 1930s and was first captain of the new diesel Royal Soveriegn. However in 1938 the company became a subsidiary of the GSN and in the take over he lost his seniority in the fleet with others from the GSN coming in with the new arrangement above him. He resigned over that and found new employment as harbour master at Margate.
However he returned to the Royal Sovereign when war broke out taking over as her master for her new role carrying troops across the Channel to France from his brother Captain Alf Aldis who moved onto Essex Queen for her new role as a hospital ship on the Thames and Medway.
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 7th February 2021.