Brian Waters has had a life long love of paddle steamers fostered by childhood trips back in the 1930s aboard Cosens’s paddlers at Bournemouth, including their veteran twin funnelled Monarch. When he grew up he went to sea and subsequently became involved with Kingswear Castle way back in the 1970s.
Since then he has played a key roll in restoring and helping to maintain our ship. There is a lot of Brian in Kingswear Castle in very many areas ranging from rebuilding the wheelhouse, making all the deck seats, using his professional skills as a ship’s electrical officer to install a new switchboard and electrical system and very, very much more. The list is endless.
And as if all that is not enough, back in the 1980s, Brian decided to build a paddle steamer of his own from scratch with the little Monarch (pictured above) being the result. After several years running on the River Stour in Kent she was bought for service on the River Medina on the Isle of Wight and is now based at Morwellham Quay in Devon.
Well you can’t keep a good man down so Brian is now building his second paddler, this time a sternwheeler. Doing virtually everything himself, the vessel is coming on nicely. On the right is the slot for the paddle wheel at the stern.
The sides are designed to give the impression of the walkways around the saloons of the big Mississippi paddlers.
The main saloon is being panelled and the companionway takes us up to the…
…wheelhouse with its lovely old fashioned railway carriage style windows and…
…down onto the foredeck.
There is still a lot to do but things are progressing well and Brian hopes to have his new paddler, which he plans to call Centurion, finished within the next year or so.
Many people love paddle steamers. Some people talk about them. Some people travel on them. And some help to maintain and run them. But I can’t think of anybody else who has turned himself into a one man paddle steamer factory. A truly great achievement.
And I know that I, for one, can’t wait for my first trip on Brian’s latest paddler!
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.