Chris Smith, who has died of a heart attack aged 60, played a central role in the return to service of KC in the 1980s and her subsequent operation and continued restoration on the Medway during the ensuing years for more than a quarter of a century.
Of all the many people who have helped KC in so many different ways and over so many years, Chris was way up at the top of the list of those who made the most difference and provided the greatest contribution.
He joined KC as a youngster, fell in love with the ship and proved himself to be a fast learner picking up wood-working and metalwork skills as he went, getting himself qualified so that he could sail as KC’s captain and then progressing his engineering knowledge so that he was able to become her chief engineer as well. He became my right-hand man at Chatham. I had complete confidence in all his work. The influence which he had on KC, backed up by his quiet and gentle good humour, was immense.
Here are a few pictures of Chris taken over the years:
Here he is caulking the foredeck which he had laid himself.
Here he is rebuilding the port paddle box.
Here he is transferring an important bit of kit from KC to Waverley.
Here he is about to welcome Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Lt General Sir Steuart Pringle aboard KC in 1987.
He is survived by his wife Jane, his sons Daniel, Toby and Chris and his grandchildren as well as an extended family.
Christopher Charles Smith, born January 1962; died September 2022.
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.