Sighting the Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle in Dartmouth

Kingswear Castle

Published Mar 14, 2020 4:35 PM by Hans van der Ster

There is a very small place called Tuckenhay on the river Dart in southern England that is home to the paddle steamer Kingswear Castle - a coal-fired river paddle steamer dating from 1924. 

After running summer excursions on the River Medway and the Thames for many years she returned to the River Dart in Devon in December 2012 to run excursions on the river she was built on and for. 

Kingswear Castle is listed as part of the National Historic Fleet of ships of "Pre-eminent National Significance." She was built by Philip & Sons of Dartmouth in 1924 for service on the River Dart, following sister ships Compton Castle and Totnes Castle, and was operated by the River Dart Steamboat Co. 

Her predecessor of the same name from 1904 is now a rotted and barely recognizable hulk in the River Dart, but the engines were re-used in the current steamboat. Kingswear Castle was chartered to the United States Navy during World War II and was used for carrying stores and personnel at Dartmouth. 

In 1965, Kingswear Castle was withdrawn from service and became the first purchase of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS) two years later. She was then taken to the Isle of Wight and was moored at Island Harbour Marina from August 1967 to June 1971. However, due to her deteriorating condition, she was then taken to the River Medway. 

After various difficulties and a great deal of restoration work she was finally brought into service again in 1985 and was operated by the Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust based at Chatham Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent, in association with the PSPS. On December 18, 2012 she returned to the River Dart, under charter to the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company, to again run passenger trips around Dartmouth Harbour and up river to Totnes. 

She has a length overall of 34.67 meters, a length bp of 32.96 meters, a beam of 5.31 meters and a draft of 1.05 meters. Her Compound Diagonal Steam engine built by Cox and Co of Falmouth is from 1904. 

(Source: Wikipedia: Photo: Towingline)

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.