Sixty years ago, Cosens’s Monarch had her inner funnel, which protruded ever so slightly above her outer funnel, renewed. Inner funnels tend to corrode away as they are mounted in such a hostile environment with this corroding away going on largely unseen. I recall climbing through Kingswear Castle’s boiler and up into her funnel in the early years of her Medway operation and finding the inner funnel in such poor condition that I could literally pull it apart with my hands so fragile and lace like had it become. Fortunately in those days Babcock was ever at hand and they kindly fabricated a new one for us which we fitted at the Medway shipyard. The scaffolding shown in this picture on Monarch gave ready access to the top of the funnel to make the necessary attachments for her new inner funnel.
Monarch pictured by Peter Ford in dry-dock at Southampton on 5th May 1953. As you can see, she had a tall funnel which was needed as her coal-fired boiler ran on natural draft with an open stokehold without the benefit of either induced or forced draft. With natural draft the taller the funnel the better to get a good air flow through the furnaces of which Monarch had six in her double ended fire-tube boiler.
A view of Monarch’s promenade deck taken by Peter Ford at Southampton on 28th June 1951 shortly after she had been bought by Cosens.
I am pleased to say that I managed to save Monarch’s paddle box crest seen here in situ in January 1960 along with my nine year old self. For many years this had pride of place in the KC office.
Monarch was built in 1924 for the Southern Railway’s Portsmouth to Ryde service. She was bought by Cosens in 1951 and spent the ensuing decade running primarily on their summer Bournemouth to Swanage service. She was withdrawn in September 1960 and towed away for scrapping in Cork in March 1961.
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.