In the aftermath of the Second World War, paddle steamers in Britain initially did rather well, with four new ones built between 1946 and 1953, including Bristol Queen, and about sixty still in service nationwide. By 1955 this tide of optimism had turned and from then on it was downhill all the way.
In almost every subsequent year, one or two paddle steamers were withdrawn and sometimes it was as many as five or six. By the late 1960s only a handful remained operational and, of these, all except one owed their continued existence to their usefulness as people-movers on the Clyde, Humber or Solent, rather than for excursions.
Some, like Freshwater, Princess Elizabeth, Consul and Jeanie Deans, enjoyed temporary new careers on services previously abandoned by their longstanding owners.
A few like Medway Queen, Compton Castle and Caledonia became nightclubs, cafés or bars.
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.