An old paddler from a bygone era graces the River Dart

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by grebeman, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    In 1924 a steel hulled, 108 feet long paddle steamer, yard number 667, was launched from the shipyard of Philip and Son, Dartmouth. She was called Kingswear Castle and actually used secondhand engines from the previous Kingswear Castle built by Cox and Co of Falmouth in Cornwall in 1904. She served on the Dart until the mid 1960's, at one time in 1943-44 she actually worked for the American forces on harbour duties. After being laid up for a few years she was bought by a preservation trust and taken away from the Dart. Last winter she returned and now she has started work again on the river that gave her birth. She is the UK's only coal fired paddle steamer

    Pulling away from the pontoon and sounding her steam whistle to alert other shipping to her movements

    Coming down river

    The captain in the wheelhouse giving his safety talk. Below the wheelhouse the open skylight gives a view into the hidden world of a ships engine room

    Looking down that skylight reveals a sight from a bygone era, a paddle steamers engine. Technically a diagonal compound steam engine. The main crank with the big end for the high pressure (HP) cylinder in full view and partially hidden the big end of the low pressure (LP) cylinder. Between the cranks are sheaves and eccentrics which drive the reversing link of the Stephenson's valve gear which enable the engine, and hence the ship to reverse the direction of travel

    Looking down on the lifting link from the other side of the hatch, the eccentric rods on the lower left driving the lifting link for the LP cylinder, the HP crank rod just above centre with the little end connecting to the piston rod

    From the other side the LP little end with a drive taken off it to a rocking lever to drive a pump, probably the air pump for the condenser

    A view of the stokehold and boiler front which is aft of the main engines

    I just missed the engineer firing the boiler, here he's just replacing the shovel on it's hangers

  2. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Thanks for the shots and the history lesson. What was her original purpose (i.e. transporting passengers, hauling cargo, etc.)? Is she just a sightseeing vessel now?

    That huge white tent on her stern is a bit of an eyesore (and certainly not historically correct). I guess that's a triumph of function over form.
  3. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    A year round paddle steamer passenger service was established on the River Dart by the 1860's at which time it was an important service for locals. By the 1920's it was a summer only service and thus more for holiday makers and the like, though photographs from that era show a sister ship to this one carrying an estimated 400 passengers, which was their maximum complement. Before widespread car ownership services such as this would provide the local population with an way of having a day out.

    Those photographs from the 1920's show the framework for what you call the "tent" in situ, but the canvas is rolled up. This arrangement appears to be fitted to many of the pleasure vessels operating on the river and was certainly fitted to this vessel as built, so very historically correct, although in those days it might only have been a roof rather than sides as well. It would be a protection in inclement weather, and up until the last day or two we've been having some very inclement and unseasonable weather, I guess the crew aren't yet convinced that spring has arrived.

  4. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Really interesting history and information. Very nice set of photos as well. Thanks! :thumbup:
  5. tbhv55

    tbhv55 Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 26, 2010
    Great set - were they taken today? As it happens, I was in Dartmouth today, and watched the Kingswear Castle set off. An interesting vessel, and I would think, a very agreeable trip.

    Many thanks for the detailed description.
  6. JudyM

    JudyM Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 5, 2010
    Westminster, MD
    What a beautiful ship. It looks very lovingly cared for by the owners and crew.
  7. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)

    Yes, taken on 30th April. I was on the 10:30 trip which is only listed on a Tuesday and a Thursday. There were so few bookings they weren't sure if it would run or not, but with steam up they went. There were only about 10 of us on board for that trip, so few heads to get in the way of photographic opportunities. The distant shots of her in action were taken on the run that departed at 12::00, so the final shot of her with Britannia Crossing in the background was at about 13:15.

    The photographs were being downloaded to my computer about 1 hour later.

    A fantastic trip that I can thoroughly recommend, virtually no vibration under foot on deck, unlike the modern diesel powered ferries. Later in the season they'll be running trips up to Totnes (which are tide dependant), but doubtless will have more passengers.

    The set I posted over at serious compacts actually has more photographs in it with scenic views as well Steam returns to the River Dart

  8. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Yes, the preservation trust that have owned her for many years have done an excellent job of keeping her in good condition, no easy task. I'm not sure what arrangement has been made with them and the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company who are now operating her on the Dart. Here's a link to their web site Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle

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