PS Emperor of India in September 1950 laid up in the Backwater. On the promenade deck the varnished seats have been piled up and packed away under a tarpaulin to protect them from the elements, the lifeboat falls have been removed to be stored undercover and the ship’s ropes hang over the starboard rail to keep them aired and so ward off the onset of rot.
PS Monarch with much scaffolding erected for the replacement of her inner funnel in January 1959.
The Cosens slipway waiting for PS Consul…
…now hauled out in January 1960.
Consul’s lovely wooden bridge in April 1963. The tank on the right was for a special fire extinguishing foam which could be flooded into the boiler room in the event of a fire. The halyards this side of it were for hauling the second steaming light onto a crane on the forward side of the funnel – a device which provided a cheaper alternative to fitting a second mast for the light.
Note the brass handrail up to the bridge has been wrapped in a sacking bandage to protect it from winter.
PS Embassy in the Backwater in March 1967 shortly before she was towed away for scrapping to Belgium. Prior to the 1966 season the light regulations changed and the second steaming light had to be fixed a greater height above the deck than before so Embassy lost her funnel crane and instead acquired a gigantic, and rather out of proportion, main mast which was taller than her foremast thereby giving her the rather odd appearance of a sort of schooner rig without the sails! By this stage in her career the for’ard side of the wheelhouse had been re-fashioned in plywood as the original timber, fitted in 1946, had started to rot.
This was Weymouth more than half a century ago when laid up, slumbering paddle steamers were a constant presence providing a tantalising daily reminder of the prospect of enchanting trips waiting to be had next season to Swanage, Bournemouth, Totland Bay Isle of Wight, Lulworth Cove, Round the Warships in Portland Harbour and many more along the lovely Dorset Coast.
Or as it turned out, not to be had, as by the end of the 1960s all these paddle steamers had gone leaving a void and sense of emptiness in the Weymouth Harbour winter scene for years to come.
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.