In 1960 there were still some paddle steamers running ferry services in the UK throughout the year including those on the Tay, Firth of Forth, Humber, Woolwich and between Lymington and Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. Of the others let’s take a look at when their 1960 seasons ended.
Cosens’s Monarch at Bournemouth was one of the first two to finish making her last trips of the season on Thursday 8th September on the Swanage service with departures from Bournemouth at 10.45am, 2.30pm, 4.15pm and 6pm. She sailed for her home port of Weymouth the following day and laid up in the Weymouth Backwater the day after that at 10am on Saturday 10th September.
Also on Thursday 8th September Medway Queen was scheduled for her last sailings of the season a day trip from Strood (9.15am) to Southend (10.55am), Herne Bay (12.30pm), Southend (2.15pm – 3.15pm) Herne Bay (5pm), Southend (6.40pm) and Strood (8.40pm) after which she laid up for the winter on the buoys off the Acorn Shipyard at Rochester.
The following day Friday 9th September Sussex Queen ex Freshwater made her last calls at Eastbourne Pier with a 2.30pm afternoon cruise for what was billed as “A Channel Excursion” due back 5.15pm. Given her generally mediocre loadings during the season this rather unexpectedly turned into a bumper finale with 410 passengers aboard. She then retreated to lay up for the winter at Topsham on the River Exe.
I can’t find in my collection of steamer notices here one for the Maid of the Loch for 1960 but from others I have for the years around then she generally finished on a Sunday between 9th and 14th September which for 1960 would have made it Sunday 11th September 1960. This would have involved her usual Sunday roster of two round trips down the Loch leaving Balloch at 11.30am and 2.30pm back 7.15pm. She then laid up in her usual berth alongside the pier at Balloch.
Next to finish was Consul on Thursday 15th September after her 2pm departure for a one hour trip round Portland Harbour and a 3pm “Tea Cruise Towards the Bill of Portland” back 5pm from Weymouth. The following day she paddled through the Town Bridge and laid up in the Backwater.
The following week Princess Elizabeth made her last trips of the season on Wednesday 21st September with a morning cruise round the Bay from Torquay at 11am back 12.30pm and an afternoon cruise to the River Dart at 2.45pm back at 5.45pm. The following morning she sailed to lay up on buoys off the yard of Philip and Son at Dartmouth.
Embassy finished on Thursday 22nd September after a day running between Bournemouth and Swanage to the same schedule as Monarch earlier in the month. She then returned to Weymouth and laid up in the Backwater the following day.
The schedule for the River Dart paddle steamers Compton Castle, Totnes Castle and Kingswear Castle between Dartmouth and Totnes was in that era advertised up to and including the last Saturday in September, which in 1960 was 24th September, so one or other or maybe all three, would have been retained in steam up until then for use whenever their capacity was needed.
Cardiff Queen made her last trip down Channel on Sunday 25th September before retiring for the winter to Penarth Dock.
Glen Usk continued in service until Monday 10th October spending most of her time on the Cardiff/Weston ferry before joining Cardiff Queen the following day for the winter at Penarth. Remember that following their financial difficulties and their need to cut costs the vast Bristol Queen was laid up during the 1959 and 1960 seasons with her place on the Bristol Channel services taken by the smaller and more economical but very much older Glen Usk.
It is difficult to be sure of the last sailing dates for each of the railway owned paddle steamers as they were sometimes called into action from time to time after their main excursion seasons had ended to cover ferry services or other duties. However we can be sure that by late October all the Clyde paddlers, which the exception of Caledonia, were laid up at Greenock. She was retained as stand by vessel at Gourock for the first part of the winter to cover ferry service and undertake the occasional tendering of liners as and when required.
She was replaced by Talisman early in the New Year. So in 1960 there was at least one paddle steamer available for service on the Clyde throughout the winter.
At Portsmouth, Ryde was kept as reserve vessel after the 1960 season and was out and about several times in October. Sandown left for Newhaven sometime in late September to lay up.
After a short season running on only a handful of days, particularly peak week Saturdays when her vast capacity was that stage still needed, Whippingham was laid up on the South Trot in the Portsmouth Harbour Backwater by early September.
Unlike 1959, which had been a good summer blessed with much sunshine and little wind, the weather in 1960 was poor leading to a number of cancellations. The Directors’ Report for Cosens & Co for December 1960 stated “The Company’s steamer services were again adversely affected by the exceptionally bad weather experienced during the summer months which contributed to the reduction in the overall Trading Profit.”
It was the last season in service for Monarch and Glen Usk. The former was towed away to be scrapped in Cork in March 1961. The latter was scrapped, also in Cork, in April 1963.
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.