On Monday 8th August 1955 Cardiff Queen ran a super long day trip away from Swansea at 8.30am for Ilfracombe 10.30am and then back across the Bristol Channel to Milford Haven for arrival at 2.30pm to coincide with a visit of Her Majesty the Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh aboard the Royal Yacht HMS Britannia. There was then a two hour cruise towards St Anne’s Head “passing the Royal Yacht, guardships and other vessels anchored in the Sound”.
After that Cardiff Queen was away from Milford Haven at 4.45pm for Ilfracombe at 8.30pm and Swansea at 10.30pm.
This was a trip which might have been expected to do well. It had its own flyer to publicise it. It was the first P & A Campbell scheduled sailing to Milford Haven since before the Second World War. Royalty was involved with the possibility of catching a glimpse of the Queen and/or the Duke of Edinburgh. The weather was fine with sunshine and little wind. P & A Campbell expected it to do well with the steamer notice declaring “Passes and weekly Tickets will not be available on this trip” thereby freeing up space to capitalise on fare paying passengers.
But it was a long old haul for much of which land would have either been out of sight or largely out of sight. And as it turned out it just did not appeal to many potential passengers. Loadings were poor with Chris Collard recording in his excellent book “The Story of Campbell’s Steamers 1946 – 1968” that there were only 146 passengers aboard at Milford Haven.
Contrast that with the previous Sunday 31st July when Cardiff Queen was filled to capacity with over 1,000 passengers, and left many behind, for the bog standard afternoon cruise from Newport up the River Avon to Bristol.
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 8th August 2021.