31st July 2023:
KC to Totnes

31st July 2023:
KC to Totnes

KC left Dartmouth at 5pm on Monday 31st July for her first visit up river to Totnes for some years. There was a good crowd aboard of old friends and supporters some of whom had travelled extensive distances to enjoy KC back in service once again after completion of the first and major part of her rebuild.

Operations Manager Richard Swinglehurst was in command in the wheelhouse and turned KC expertly at Totnes. On the foredeck PSPS Wessex Branch Chairman Chris Warren and his wife Paula synchronise chronometers.

Under the awning long term KC volunteer and supporter Richard Turner talks about paddle steamers with Wessex Branch committee member and Swanage Pier Trustee Frank Snart. The lovely black dog on the seat is owned by the daughter of Victor Gray, who was also aboard, and who was involved with the original purchase of KC from the River Dart way back in 1967.

On the foredeck PSPS treasurer Martin Longhurst, in the KC funnel coloured hat knitted for him by his ever industrious wife Jenny, expert maritime historian and author Mike Tedstone, with the bottle of beer in hand, and PSPS Chairman John Allen, with camera ready for action, all chew the fat. Jenny holds the world record for knitting the most red, white and black Waverley woollen bonnets ever produced by hand to raise funds for the steamers. Well done Jenny, I say. Keep knitting!

A call was made at Totnes to pick up Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust Treasurer Keith Adams whose travel plans had been set awry by industrial disruption on the railway between his home in Milford on Sea and Paignton.

It was really good to see so many old friends and supporters of KC aboard including David Lawrence, a regular volunteer on the Medway who travelled all the way from Kent with his wife to be with us. And it was good to welcome the new as well with PSPS secretary Angela Johnson having travelled down from Oban to make her first trip on KC.

Another blast from the past aboard for the Totnes trip was John Watkiss. For most of the Medway operating years he was the factor who sourced and supplied KC’s coal.

The decks were awash with favourable comments praising the standards of workmanship which has gone into the rebuild so far. This lovely woodwork aft fashioned in the railway carriage workshop at Paignton is just one tiny example.

A big thank you to all who bought tickets for this cruise and sailed with us. With KC made freely available to us for the evening to raise funds all the operating costs were borne by Dart Pleasure Craft, which runs KC on our behalf, so all the ticket money goes to KC. And we are expecting this trip to have raised around £3,500 towards the next phase of KC’s rebuild. Thank you.

So far the rebuild has included all the steelwork below the waterline throughout the ship, renewing the hull strake just under the deck both sides from the engine room to the stern, renewing all the frames, stringers, keelsons and bulkheads throughout and renewing all the decking aft of the wheelhouse. All this has cost us just under £500K so far with the funding coming from surpluses from the trading income from the the Medway years, a grant of over £300K from the PSPS for which we are very grateful, fund raising through our website and PO Box and inhouse donations in kind of the Dart Company’s labour costs plus free use of their facilities at the Dartmouth shipyard. This has been of immense benefit to KC. If this sort of rebuild had taken place in a commercial yard at commercial rates the cost so far would more likely have been £2 to £3 million.

For the next phase of the rebuild we plan to renew the hull strake just below the deck both sides from the engine room to the bow and renew all the decking forward of the wheelhouse. This is expected to cost around £200K for which we are still currently fund raising.

So there we are. It was a lovely trip on a lovely paddle steamer on perhaps not the loveliest of evenings in terms of the weather. Goodness how wet this July has been. But it is so good to see KC back in service once again paddling up and down the river of her birth.

Take a look at what we have done so far with the rebuild. Look at what we still need to do to finish the job and set KC up for the next 25 years. And do please keep the donations coming in.

Or why not join us on our next fund raising cruise from Dartmouth on Saturday 19th August.:16th June 2023: KC Fund Raising Trips – Kingswear Castle

To take a look at a clip of KC arriving at Totnes taken by Keith Adams click here: KC Totnes 31.8.2023.MOV – Google Drive

Thank you!

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.

John Megoran

John Megoran