Capt Shippick (pictured on the extreme left in the front row) wrote the letter below to the Bournemouth Times in 1948. I have re-produced it in easier to read type below and added pictures of some of the ships to which he referred.
Capt. Shippick and Berthing of Steamers
Sir, Many years ago I had the privilege of being concerned in the running of passenger steamers from Bournemouth Pier, firstly with Messrs Cosens, as master of the Brodick Castle, (pictured above) and later…
…with my own passenger steamer Audrey (pictured above alongside Bournemouth Pier in Capt Shippick’s ownership) running a local service to Bournemouth, Swanage, Studland, Poole Harbour, etc. Unfortunately in August 1914 the declaration of war put a stop to this traffic and, within a few weeks, I left the south coast with the Audrey for war service under the Commander-in-Chief, The Nore, Chatham. After serving with the Royal Naval Reserve and being demobilised in 1919, not being able to re-purchase the Audrey from the Admiralty, I re-formed the New Medway Steam Packet Co in 1920 since when I have spent my time as the managing director of that company.
I paid a visit to my home town of Poole two weeks ago and visited Bournemouth Pier (pictured above with Cosens’ Monarch alongside at about the time that Capt Shippick visited the pier), which I left in August 1914. The shore end of the pier which has been reconstructed and completed appeared to me to be an excellent job, but I was amazed to find that the same old landing stage for the traffic of passenger steamers has been little, if in any way, improved.
The time has come, to my mind, when the most up to date town on the South Coast should consider its passenger traffic for the thousands of visitors who take advantage of the splendid services that could be made available in addition to those at present offered during the summer season, but there is little prospect for such improvement until the Council can give the necessary facilities for the class of passenger vessel of the future. In my opinion the present lower landing stage should be raised at least 3ft, the pier itself be lengthened seaward another 200/250ft, stepping the lower landing stage up a further 6ft, including the pile heads such as the piers now being re-constructed in the Thames estuary. If this were done it would induce the passenger shipping companies to place faster, better and more commodious vessels on their services.
There is no doubt the coming type of vessel is the improved twin screw Diesel ship, offering magnificent accommodation with a speed average of twenty knots, but until the pier facilities are considerably improved at Bournemouth I fear no ship-owner will venture to place an order for a modern, up to date vessel such as I have described, until they can be given the necessary facilities to accommodate such a vessel.
This company is at present building two new twin screw Diesel vessels to replace the Queen of the Channel and Royal Sovereign (pictured above) lost during war service. Both vessels were employed on a daily Continental service to Ostend, Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne from Rochester, Tilbury, Southend, Margate and Ramsgate. The new Royal Sovereign will be in service next season and the new Queen of the Channel the following season.
S J Shippick, Capt MN, High Street Rochester.
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.