Paddle Steamer Britannia Scrapped December 1956


Britannia in her early years leaving Ilfracombe

Britannia was the third of a trio of sisters including Westward Ho! (1894-1946) and Cambria (1895-1946), built for P & A Campbell as their services expanded on the back of the late nineteenth century excursion paddle steamer boom. They were larger, more commodious and altogether more modern than anything which had come before and set the bar high for the standard to which other operators should aspire.


Britannia after having been re-boilered in 1935

   Although Britannia sailed on the south coast from Southampton on a handful of occasions over the years for Spithead reviews and the like, and took the occasional super-long excursion to the Scilly Isles before the First World War, for most of her career until the Second World War she was primarily associated with Campbellís flagship route from Bristol down the Devon coast to Ilfracombe and on to Lundy Island.


Britannia off Clovelly in 1954

   Returned to service after the Second World War, boiler trouble in 1946 led to her being out for a year before a new oil-fired boiler was installed in a rebuild from which she emerged sporting two funnels. In this guise Britannia sailed south and ran the Sussex Coast services in 1948 and 1949 before returning to the Bristol Channel for the remainder of her career based mostly at Cardiff although she was the Swansea steamer in 1953.

   By 1956 Campbellís growing financial difficulties were beginning to bite deeper. Their bankers demanded cuts. Staff needed to be laid off. Britannia had to go. She made her last trip on 27 September 1956 on the Cardiff/Weston ferry and on 7 December left Penarth Dock for the breakerís yard at Newport.

Return to Pictures of the Month