After many months on the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company’s covered slipway at Old Mill Creek, Dartmouth, 1924-built paddle steamer Kingswear Castle was successfully re-launched on 6 December 2022 and moved to the shipyard’s fitting-out berth where work continues to prepare her for the 2023 season.
It is planned that she will re-enter passenger service on the River Dart during July, by which time Phases 1 and 2 of the Centenary Rebuild Project will have been completed.
From the boiler room to the stern the ship will have been completely refurbished including receiving a new deck, while from the engine room forward underwater steelwork including hull re-plating as necessary, and renewal of the keelson, stringers and frames will have been finished. All bulkheads have been replaced, new wiring fitted and much else besides.
The cost of all this is expected to come in at around half a million pounds and will be fully funded from the Paddle Steam Kingswear Castle Trust’s savings.
Funding permitting, it is hoped that during the winter of 2023/24 Phase 3 of the rebuild can proceed. This will involve replacing much of the steelwork in the forward third of the ship from below the portholes to the deck and laying a new deck at a cost of another £200,000.
During subsequent winters any remaining work required on the centre section of the ship will be completed at a probable cost of a further £200,000.
The Paddle steamer Kingwear Castle Trust therefore needs to raise at least an additional £400,000 to allow phases 3 and 4 to go ahead.
It is their ambition to complete as much work as possible in time for the historic steamer’s centenary celebrations during 2024 and to ensure that she is in perfect condition to sail on well into her second century.
If this can be achieved her future on the River Dart is extremely secure, as a 25-year extension to charter to the DSR&RB Co has recently been signed and the work being carried out will ensure that she is MCA compliant for many years to come.
In addition to applying to various grant-giving bodies and running its own fund-raising events, the PSKC Trust is therefore appealing for generous public support.
Donations from individuals or sponsorship from commercial organisations will make a vital difference and be deeply appreciated. Details of how to donate can be found on the Trust’s website www.kingswearcastle.org.
Information about her summer sailings on the Dart can be found at www.dartmouthrail.river.co.uk.