Thursday 23rd October was the last day of the season at Bournemouth in 1947 and was operated by Red Funnel’s Bournemouth Queen which had run the services for this last week on her own.
1947 was the first full season after the Second World War at Bournemouth and it was a bumper one with passengers flocking aboard after all the misery and austerity of the war with the situation helped by good weather. Cosens fielded their Embassy, freshly converted to oil firing during the previous winter, and their coal-fired Monarch. Red Funnel fielded their oil-fired Princess Elizabeth plus initially their newly acquired Upton which proved to be unsuitable for work alongside Bournemouth Pier and was therefore returned to run from Southampton. Their newly rebuilt, but still coal-fired, Bournemouth Queen, arrived in July.
In the peak weeks the pattern was for two paddle steamers to pack the passengers in on the forty five minute run across Poole Bay to Swanage backwards and forwards all day. And for the other two to run day trips to Yarmouth, Isle of Wight (the pier at Totland Bay was still closed) and further afield. Departure times were staggered with one due away at 10.15am, the second at 10.30am and the first Swanage boat at 10.45am. Passengers for each trip were queued ashore and then allowed onto the pier for each departure. And with each paddler at that stage capable of carrying more than 700 that meant that on some days in the peaks almost 3,000 passengers had walked down Bournemouth pier to board the steamers by 11.15am. That’s a huge volume of traffic.
Let’s look at the week commencing Saturday 2nd August 1947 to see how each of the paddle steamers was rostered. Note that they all started and finished their days at Poole sometimes coming to and from Bournemouth direct and sometimes via Swanage.
- Sunday 3rd August: 2.30pm Cruise to view the warships in Portland harbour also picking up at Swanage. Due back 7.45pm
- Monday 4th August: 2.15pm Yarmouth for one hour ashore or stay aboard for a cruise to Southampton Water due back 8pm
- Tuesday 5th August: 10.15am to Yarmouth and Ryde for time ashore leaving Ryde 3.20pm, Yarmouth 5.10pm for Bournemouth 6.30pm
- Wednesday 6th August: 10.30pm Round the Isle of Wight with time ashore at Ryde leaving at 3.45pm back 6.30pm
- Thursday 7th August: 10.15am Yarmouth, Ryde and cruise round Portsmouth Harbour leaving Ryde 3.20pm due back 6.30pm
- Friday 8th August: 10.15am Round the Isle of Wight due back 6.30pm
- Saturday 9th August: 2.15pm Yarmouth and cruise to Cowes Roads back 6.30pm
- Saturday 2nd August: 2.15pm Yarmouth and cruise to Cowes Roads leaving Yarmouth 5.10pm due back 6.30pm
- Sunday 3rd August: 2.15pm Yarmouth and cruise to Southampton Water due back Yarmouth 6.30pm and Bournemouth 8pm
- Monday 4th August: Swanage service
- Tuesday 5th August: 10.30am Round the Isle of Wight with time ashore at Ryde leaving 3.20pm due back 6.30pm
- Wednesday 6th August: Swanage service
- Thursday 7th August: 10.30am Round the Isle of Wight calling at Ryde due back 6.30pm
- Sunday 3rd August: Swanage service
- Monday 4th August: 10.15am Yarmouth and Southampton for time ashore. Leaving 3pm, Yarmouth 5.10pm due back 6.30pm
- Tuesday 5th August: Swanage service
- Wednesday 6th August: 10.15am Yarmouth and Southampton for time ashore. Leaving 3pm, Yarmouth 5.10pm due back 6.30pm
- Thursday 7th August: Swanage service
- Friday 8th August: Swanage service
- Sunday 10th August: Swanage service
Although Monarch occasionally ventured further afield during the season generally speaking she was the bedrock of the Swanage service accompanied Sunday to Friday by either Bournemouth Queen or Princess Elizabeth.
On Saturdays which were change over day for visitors to Bournemouth only two paddle steamers were rostered with one running an afternoon cruise to the Isle of Wight and the other on the Swanage service. These rosters were divvied up between all four ships so that each could have a day off in turn.
Thursday 23rd October 1947 was the latest date for the season to close at Bournemouth in any of the post war years. Subsequently it was usually brought to a close around the end of the second week in October. Then into the 1950s in early October and in the final years sometime around the third week in September. The great crowds which had flocked aboard in 1947 began to wane and as the 1950s wore on they diminished ever further. The once buoyant market for long day trips disappeared as did that for the cruises in the afternoon on the Solent from Yarmouth for which latterly there just weren’t enough takers to put them on.
By 1963 there was just Embassy left and she soldiered on until 1966. And that was that.
Acknowledgement: With thanks to the Poole Maritime Trust for access to their vast collection of steamer notices.