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Background

A briefing on the purchase and Medway years 1973 - 2012

Purchase,1967:  Built in 1924 for service on the River Dart in Devon to run summer excursions between Dartmouth and Totnes, Kingswear Castle was withdrawn in 1965. In 1967 she was purchased by what is now the Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust with a loan of £600 from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society(PSPS) and chartered to a marina on the Isle of Wight where she was steamed a couple of times. There was no maintenance or repairs so in 1971 she was towed to the boatyard of Nick Knight at Borstal on the River Medway in Kent.

Restoration to operational condition,1973-1983: 
Work to restore her to operational condition in the period from 1973 to 1983 was undertaken by an itinerant band of volunteers who brought together great enthusiasm and a wide range of diverse skills. Inevitably, with work confined mostly to weekends, progress was slow and occasionally faltering as people came and went. Things speeded up in the early 1980s with Stone Manganese, Babcock Power and several other organisations providing expertise, kit and more. PSPS funding enabled essential bottom plate doubling to be carried out and by 1983 Kingswear Castle was ready for trials and a limited season carrying just 12 passengers in 1984.

Medway Operation, 1985-2012:  The following winter work proceeded apace and under the leadership of John Megoran, Kingswear Castle obtained full Passenger Certificates in time for a return to service in 1985 on the Rivers Medway and Thames. A base was made available at the then newly opened Historic Dockyard Chatham. The business plan designed for operation on the Medway proved very successful and, as a result, Kingswear Castle continued to run there until 2012.

Further Renovation, 1985-2012:
During the operational years on the Medway with surplus money from trading and with a better platform from which to launch grant applications, the Trust, a registered charity, was able to complete much other major restoration work. From 1985 to 1993 various jobs and much re-decking were completed in addition to the usual annual refits.

By1993 finances were in a sufficiently buoyant state for substantial re-plating of the ship's bottom.Further major work during the eight year period from 1999 included new decks, a new bow, new sponsons port and starboard fore and aft, new paddle boxes, a new fiddley, a new saloon entrance, replacement etched glass windows and, perhaps best of all, a new coal-fired boiler financed by a combination of surpluses from trading and grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the PSPS, the City of Rochester upon Medway Council, Medway Council and the Manifold Trust.

Return to the Dart 2012: Early in 2012 an invitation was received from Dartmouth to return the ship to her original home on the river Dart. John Megoran, who had been so crucial to the whole operation over all the Medway years, would soon be coming up for retirement. This, coupled with the fact that the Medway business was becoming more difficult to sustain financially led to the decision to return Kingswear Castle to operate once again on her original home waters on the River Dart on long term charter to the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company.

The links below give something of a flavour of all the work which has gone into our ship over all these years to keep her sailing.


aaa  John Megoran's book,
"PS Kingswear Castle:
A Personal Tribute" chronicles the ship's career.

slipway
Early years
1973-1983
new boiler
New Boiler 1999-2001
deck
New foredeck, paddle shaft,
bearings 1999-2000
newdeckDeck over engine, new mast
2000-2001
sponson
Starboard
Sponson
renewal
2001
paddlewheel
Port Sponson plus much new decking
2001/2
port paddlebox
New port paddle box
2002-2003
refit 2004
New starboard paddle box
2003/4
refit2005
New fwd entrance, decking
2004/5
etched glass windows
New traditional etched glass windows
 2005/6
refit 2004
New bow 2006/7
refit2005
Specifications

 

 

 

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