On the morning of Saturday 9th March 1963, having just left drydock St Trillo set off bound from Birkenhead for Cardiff but due to the weather only got as far as Menai Bridge.
With excursions services nationwide collapsing as the 1960s rolled on with potential passengers finding other things to do with their time and staying away, St Trillo had been part of the by then two ship fleet of the Liverpool and North Wales Steamship Company which had gone into voluntary liquidation the previous November. She had been based each summer at Menai Bridge for excursions in the local area there including to Llandudno. The larger St Tudno was based at Liverpool and by then was mostly used for excursions along the coast of North Wales to Llandudno. A third ship, St Seiriol had been withdrawn and scrapped the previous November.
Although there was interest from other buyers, St Trillo was bought by Townsend Ferries, which also owned P & A Campbell. They planned to put her back into service during the peak weeks each season on her old routes but have her available to run on the Cardiff/Weston ferry at the start and end of each season thereby providing a more economical ship to run on this service in a diminishing market than the paddle steamers.
Her purchase was not good news for Glen Usk. Having lain idle since 1961 she was sold to Haulbowline industries in Cork, the same firm which scrapped Cosens’s Monarch, and left the Bristol Channel for good in April 1963.
St Trillo managed to get away from Menai Bridge when the weather abated and arrived in Cardiff at 9.20am on Wednesday 13th March. She then ran berthing trials at Weston and made her first passenger carrying trips on Maundy Thursday 11th April on the Cardiff/Weston ferry.
Her arrival signalled just how much the excursion market was in retreat by 1963 and that the writing was now on the wall for all excursion paddle steamers nationwide.
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 March 2021.