Paddle Steamer Captain Billy Read Retires


Pictured left to right are: Mr C Shears (chief steward), Mr W Palmer (mate), Mr S Goss (chief engineer), Mr R C Bowering (first mate, Capt Read, Mr J Halford (Bournemouth agent and manager) and M Bert Read (purser)

The press report for September 1935 recounts: " Captain Carey William Edward Read, the 70 year old skipper of the Emperor of India which belongs to Cosens and Co of Weymouth , is retiring at the end of the month after 40 years service with the company.

Yesterday afternoon when the boat touched Bournemouth Pier before voyaging on to Weymouth on a pleasure cruise, an informal ceremony took place on deck, when Captain Read was presented with an electric lamp from the members of the crew. He has also received a wallet with notes from the shareholders of the company.

The presentation of the lamp was made by Mr R C Bowering (the first mate). Capt Read, who lives in Wyke Oliver Road, Preston near Weymouth has had an eventful career at sea covering a period of 57 years. He served in the merchant service and for a time in the Royal Navy before joining Cosens. He has been in the Dutch East Indies, Australia, China, Japan and indeed throughout the Seven Seas. During the Great War he served on a hospital ship and two minesweepers."

The present of a lamp was doubtlessly well intentioned but somehow, with its fancy shade, it looks rather out of place in the  hand of this seasoned and veteran mariner with his quizzical face and knowing eyes. Did he want to retire I wonder? Could he afford to retire? I don't know. But as he was 70 he would have had no option. In those days Trinity House took away a captain's pilotage certificates when he reached that magic age. Today, with everyone allegedly healthier and living longer, they are cancelled at 65.


Emperor of India backing out to sea


Capt Read on the bridge of the Emperor of India on a still and shimmering summer day alongside Bournemouth Pier in July 1923.

Capt Read's place on the bridge of the Emperor the following season was taken by Capt Carter previously of the Monarch. The mate, Mr Bowering, got his first command two years later when Cosens acquired the Embassy.

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