On Thursday 9th April 1964 British Railway’s paddle steamer Ryde was on the grid in Newhaven Harbour for survey and underwater work.
On into the 1960s one or other of Sandown or Ryde were generally retained at Portsmouth as stand-by vessel to cover breakdowns or other difficulties on the Portsmouth/Ryde ferry service for much of the winter. The off season schedule needed just two of the motor vessels Brading, Shanklin or Southsea with the third unavailable during her refit hence the need for occasional paddle steamer relief cover. Sandown had been flashed up for service between the 9th and 11th January 1964. And Ryde was on the route on Easter Monday 30th March before making off along the coast to Newhaven for her annual refit.
During the season both ships would be put to good use particularly on peak week Saturdays when the numbers wishing to cross between the mainland and the Isle of Wight were still vast. One of them was also rostered during the week for the Southsea/Ryde connection with the other lying in the harbour as relief boat and with both generally swapping over on a week about basis.
Afternoon excursions in the Solent and to view Southampton Docks were generally run by one of the Diesel vessels but there were occasions, of by then extreme rarity, when one of the paddle steamers was rostered to take them.
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 9th April 2021.