June 2010:
Paddle Steamer Wheel & Deckhouses

June 2010:
Paddle Steamer Wheel & Deckhouses

One of my tip top favourite places anywhere in the world is Lausanne-Ouchy. It has a harbour stuffed full of paddle steamers. It faces south onto Lake Geneva and across to the mountains beyond. And it has a cosmopolitan and civilised ambiance. On a Sunday afternoon the world and his wife promenade along the lakeside, young and old, rich and poor, people from here, people from there, all taking the air and enjoying life.

And if you take a diversion from your walk into one of the back streets just behind the Ouchy Metro you will find a Lake Geneva paddle steamer deckhouse sitting in someone’s back garden indulging a new career as a shed. Does anyone out there know from which paddle steamer it came?

Seeing it there a few weeks ago made me wonder if there are any more paddle steamer wheel or deckhouses which found further uses. We know, for example, that the wheelhouse from the Compton Castle (right above)…

…gravitated onto the new Conway Castle.

And I believe that in the late 1950s Southampton based Bill Hogg, of Blue Funnel Cruises, bought at least one of the deckhouses from either Cosens’ Consul (pictured above at Bournemouth)…

…or Embassy (pictured above in Portsmouth Harbour). He was ever mindful of enhancing passenger comfort and was then in the process of enlarging his fleet and giving them more undercover accommodation to keep people dry in inclement weather. For this, these magnificent ready made wooden structures would have been ideal and doubtless cheaper to buy than building from scratch.

They were fitted onto the Consul and Embassy after the war but they do not seem to have found favour with Cosens as they were taken off in 1957. In the picture above you can see one of them already removed and sitting in state on the shore outside Cosens’ workshop just to the left of the yacht.

There, in Weymouth, they were spotted by Bill Hogg. Did he buy just the one or did he buy the pair? And if so, on which boat or boats did he put them? We know that he bought the former Gosport ferries Verda and Princessa (pictured above being re-built for Blue Funnel) in 1958 and gave them big refits from which they emerged with deckhouses. Were these partly or fully the Cosens’ deck-houses? Does anyone out there know for sure?

Are there any other examples of paddle steamer wheel and deckhouses still enjoying alternative careers today?

And what is the history of the Lausanne-Ouchy garden shed?

Lots of questions!

If you have any answers then do email info@kingswearcastle.org.

Andrew Gladwell has emailed to say:

I noted your article on deck house ‘sheds’. I will try and sort out some information, but I know that one was used as a shed on the Thanet coast and another (Iona?) was sold by the PSPS to raise funds for Waverley. I believe that we may have a photograph somewhere of one or more of these.

More on the ex-Iona deckhouse here.

David Green has emailed to say:

When visiting the Scottish Maritime Museum I noticed that they have on display a deckhouse from the LNER Clyde paddle steamer Lucy Ashton and there is a deckhouse from one of the Victorian Royal Yachts in the grounds of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

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