August 2010:
Paddle Steamers Trips from Weymouth August 1960

August 2010:
Paddle Steamers Trips from Weymouth August 1960

The first week in August 1960 was a busy one for Cosens’ little Consul as she packed in a wide variety of trips from her base at Weymouth. Here she is seen backing out from Custom House Quay, Weymouth, on her way down the harbour to the Pleasure Pier for the start of the day’s sailings.

On Saturday July 30 and Sunday July 31 there were one hour cruises “ROUND HM SHIPS AND MERCHANT SHIPPING IN PORTLAND HARBOUR” before the longer one and three quarter hour afternoon cruise on Saturday “TOWARDS THE BILL OF PORTLAND” and on Sunday to the “SHAMBLES LIGHTSHIP” both offering “Teas supplied at moderate charges”.

Note that “Newspapers, Magazines etc are welcome aboard the lightship”. On the way out, the crew went round the deck selling these luxuries to the passengers who would then donate them back along with other purchases like chocolate for the lightship crew. Consul put her bow up towards the lightship’s stern and the goods were handed over in exchange for some freshly caught fish.

After a night off on Saturday, Sunday evening was filled with a “SPECIAL (JAZZ JAMBOREE) EVENING CRUISE with “All Stars orchestra featuring some of Weymouth’s finest professional musicians”. Wow!

Monday August 1st was the old style August Bank Holiday Monday so no effort was spared to pack in as many passengers on as many trips as possible. The day started with a morning cruise “towards Osmington and Ringstead thence to Portland Harbour”. This was followed by no less than four one hour trips round Portland Harbour in the afternoon with an early evening cruise to the Shambles Lightship filling the gap before the “GRAND ILLUMINATION CRUISE” at 8pm to view “Weymouth’s ‘Fairylike’ Illuminations from the best vantage point obtainable.”

On Tuesday and Thursday, Consul set off at 10am for day trips to Swanage and Bournemouth “giving fine views of the lovely Dorset coastline”, an apt description, particularly when pronounced with the local “Darrsett” burr and so much pleasanter on the ear than the hideous, vile and ill-sounding “Jurassic Coast” moniker which marketing gurus have subsequently taken up as an allegedly promotional tool for this area.

Whilst at Bournemouth, Consul was not left to rest alongside the pier but set off at 2.30pm for an “AFTERNOON CRUISE towards the NEEDLES LIGHTHOUSE (Isle of Wight) back 4pm” After that it was back to Swanage and Weymouth by 7.45pm which just gave time to get the ship ready for the evening cruise round Portland Harbour at 8.15pm on Tuesday and 8.30pm on Thursday.

On Wednesday 3rd and Friday 5th August there were trips to “LULWORTH COVE. Dorset’s famous beauty spot” with the first sailing leaving at 10.30am and offering either the opportunity to land in the Cove for the whole day or to stay aboard for a morning cruise round trip. Then there was a trip around Portland Harbour at 2pm before the second departure of the day to Lulworth at 3pm. On Wednesday 3rd there was an evening cruise with “Competitions, Fun and Games” but on Friday 5th there was the second of only two evenings off during that week for the crew in their comprehensive seven day week schedule.

Mate Arthur Drage prepares Consul for boarding.

Loading passengers alongside the Pleasure Pier.
Consul arriving at Swanage.

Despite all this hard work and all these trips packed in to pretty much every available slot, 1960 was not a good year for Cosens. Their annual accounts, published on 1st March 1961, state:

The company’s steamer services were again adversely affected by the exceptionally bad weather experienced during the summer months (of 1960) which contributed to the reduction in the overall Trading Profit. Your Directors have decided to further reduce the pleasure steamer services and, during the summer 1961, the Embassy only will be stationed at Bournemouth. Following this decision, the Monarch has been sold for break-up purposes.

Consul continued to run from Weymouth for two more seasons for Cosens before being withdrawn. Embassy ran until 1966.

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.

John Megoran

John Megoran