History and Pictures
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.
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Withdrawn from service in 1965, KINGSWEAR CASTLE was laid up in Old Mill Creek at Dartmouth until bought by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society in 1967.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
There are two saloons below deck
as well as distinctive lavatories
So, why not join us for a cruise on the River Medway from Chatham or Rochester in Kent, bring a group or hire KINGSWEAR CASTLE for your own private party and sail back into history aboard a real and historic paddle steamer from another age.
Back to Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Home Page