Built in 1908 for what became Red Funnel, Bournemouth Queen spent most of her peacetime summers running excursions from Bournemouth and Swanage up to 1950. After that she spent the remainder of her career, up to the end of the 1957 season when she as withdrawn, based at Southampton and, after she lost her sea-going Class III Passenger Certificates in 1952, running exclusively on Class IV and V PCs on what were then described as “Smooth” and “Partially Smooth” waters within Southampton Water and the Solent (today called Category C & D Waters).
In August 1956, as with other summer months, this involved a daily round trip leaving Southampton’s Royal Pier at either 10.30am or 10.45am Sundays through to Fridays for the 14 nautical mile run down Southampton Water and across the Solent to Ryde. This took about an hour and a half, depending on the tide, and offered a day out for passengers in this seaside resort with return at 5.45pm arriving back in Southampton by 7.15pm.
Whilst at Ryde Bournemouth Queen then offered afternoon cruises from the resort also picking up at Southsea’s Clarence and South Parade Pier. On Sundays 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th and Mondays 6th and 20th August 1956 departure was at 1.40pm for a “Cruise through the Solent” back at 5.30pm with the trip passing Cowes and carrying on towards Yarmouth due back 5.30pm.
On Mondays 13th and 27th departure was at 12.45pm “To Southampton Docks giving a good view of shipping and and passing RMS Queen Mary en route to Southampton due back 5.30pm.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays departure was at 12.45pm for the same cruise to Southampton Docks via Southsea “to see RMS Queen Elizabeth or RMS Queen Mary in their berths”
On Thursdays the same trip was run to Southampton Docks but by then each week the great Cunarders had sailed for Cherbourg and New York so what was in was pot luck. Note from the steamer notice that in the possible absence of any exciting liners at which to take a gander then the “Esso Refinery at Fawley” gets a mention as something worth seeing.
On Fridays Bournemouth Queen offered the 1.40pm departure, again picking up at Southsea, for the “Cruise through the Solent”
Saturdays were generally her day off. This was a busy day on the Southampton/Cowes ferry but this was a service on which Bournemouth Queen did not sail even to help out so far as I am aware. She was not so good at steaming astern and where the Princess Elizabeth always sailed straight into Cowes to berth head in and then backed all the way out, this was a manoeuvre for which Bournemouth Queen was considered not to be suited.
Bournemouth Queen was much rebuilt after the Second World War gaining a modern funnel and large bridge complete with wheelhouse in the process but she was not converted to burn oil and so remained coal-fired to the end of her operational career in August 1957.
Tiny Point of Detail: The ship pictured on the Red Funnel steamer notice above is of course Balmoral. Then just seven years old she was then Red Funnel’s principal excursion vessel and generally took all the longer day trips from Southampton, Southsea and Ryde including round the Isle of Wight and sometimes on to Bournemouth. She was a versatile ship and with her capability of carrying cars on her main deck back aft often piled in to help out on the Southampton/Cowes ferry at busy times and particularly on summer Saturdays.
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.