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The coal-fired paddle steamer KINGSWEAR CASTLE was built in 1924 by Philip & Son of Dartmouth and sailed up and down the River Dart with her virtually identical sister ships TOTNES CASTLE and COMPTON CASTLE until the 1960s. When built, her steam engine, built by Cox and Co of Falmouth, and many fixtures and fitting were taken from her predecessor of the same name.


Compton Castle


Totnes Castle with larger foredeck gates for loading five cars

During the Second World War, Kingswear Castle was chartered to the American Navy for use carrying stores and personnel at Dartmouth and was one of the few British ships to retain her bright peacetime colour scheme amongst the drab uniformity of wartime grey.

Kingswear Castle in Old Mill Creek with Totnes Castle alongside

Withdrawn from service in 1965, Kingswear Castle was laid up in Old Mill Creek at Dartmouth until bought by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society in 1967. She was moved to Binfield on the Isle of Wight where she steamed on a couple of occasions for a BBC film with John Betjeman and then, in 1971, was towed to the River Medway in Kent where restoration commenced. Many companies, individuals and other organisations donated money, equipment and expertise until finally, in 1985, she was returned to service on the River Medway with full Department of Transport (later MCA) Passenger Certificates.


In 1986 Kingswear Castle won the National Steam Heritage Award and in 1995 won first prize in the Scania Transport Trust Awards. In 1999 she was included on the National Historic Ships Committee Core Collection list of ships of "Pre-eminent National Significance".

Since her return to service, Kingswear Castle has carried more than 200,000 passengers on a variety of different excursions from her base at Chatham and Rochester and on the Thames. She has also been in much demand for television and other filming and has recently starred in the BBC production of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and an entertaining programme about deck chairs with Vanessa Feltz.

Other distinguished passengers carried over the years include:

Sir Harry Secombe


Eric Idle and Pierce Brosnan


Prince Edward


There are two saloons below deck


as well as distinctive lavatories


So, why not join Kingwear Castle for a cruise on the River Dart and sail back into history aboard a real and historic paddle steamer from another age.

  Enquiries & Bookings for 2013 on the River Dart

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