Earlier this year, we saw the return of the Kingswear Castle Paddle Steamer as the boat’s operations moved from the River Medway in Kent back to her original home right here on the River Dart in Devon.
The Kingswear Castle is the last remaining coal-fired paddle steamer in operation in the UK today and was built in 1924 at Philip & Son of Dartmouth. For over 40 years she plied her trade between Totnes and Dartmouth before being withdrawn from service. She ended up in Chatham in Kent where the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society spent 15 years fully restoring her to her former glory and where she has been offering river trips on the Medway since 1985.
After an absence of 47 years, she returned to the home waters of the river Dart and the Easter bank holiday weekend saw the inaugural trip from Dartmouth Pontoon. As you may remember it wasn’t the best of weather over the Easter bank holiday and the cold easterly winds were out in force, but despite this many delighted passengers hopped on board for the historic trip. One of those passengers was our very own Suzi of Dart Valley Cottages.
“The Kingswear Castle Paddle Steamer made her first passenger voyage on the River Dart in almost 50 years, looking every bit the grand old lady she is,” says Suzi. “She announced her departure with a long loud hoot on her horn, which echoed across the Dart river valley and with her paddles churning in the icy cold river, the UK’s last remaining coal powered paddle steamer moved majestically away from the dock. It was a bitterly cold day and it was almost too chilly to enjoy the stunning views of Dartmouth Castle, the Britannia Royal Naval College or Dittisham village, but this was after all a special day, as an old friend has returned home.”
For anyone visiting us this year, the Kingswear Castle will make for a glorious day out. Choose from the Paddle Steamer River Cruise, the Paddle Steamer Steam & Cruise, the Paddle Steamer Round Robin or the Paddle Steamer Dartmouth-Totnes river cruise. Whichever option you choose you’re sure to experience an important bit of history as you chug up the river in one of our finest treasures.
And if you do take a trip this year be sure to tell us all about it on our Facebook page. You know we love to hear from you!