The work is coming on well and by the time KC goes back into service for the 2023 season all of the work will have been completed from the boiler room to the stern and much of the structural work from the engine room to the bow including any hull replating as necessary and renewal of the bulkheads, keelson, stringers and frames. This is expected to come in at around half a million pounds for which the funding is in place.
That leaves the steelwork from below the portholes to the deck forward both sides and the deck itself to the bow for the winter 2023/24. This work is expected to cost in the region of a further £200K. After that there is any necessary work on the centre section of the ship for the winter after that. This is estimated to come in at a further £200K.
So why are we doing all this? Well the fact is that ships are built for an operational lifespan of 25/30 years after which it is expected that they will be scrapped. Steel corrodes. Wood rots. And it does so at an accelerated pace in all those parts of a ship which are not easily accessible or easily seen. Of course you can extend a ship’s life by careful maintenance but of all the paddle steamers which had longer careers in days gone by all had extensive rebuilds, once, twice and sometimes thrice in their operational lives to keep them in service for those extended periods. And in this the two world wars had the handy side effect of the Government providing tidy sums of money to rebuild paddle steamers which they had used during the wars and returned to their owners in poor condition. The Swiss routinely rebuild their paddle steamers taking them back to nothing, renewing steelwork as required and completely re-decking them every 25 to 30 years. For example, I remember when I first went to Switzerland in the late 1980s Stadt Luzern had just completed a major rebuild. She was out of service for another one from 2018 – 2021. And so on.
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.