For a hundred years excursion paddle steamers gave all the social classes the opportunity to enjoy a cruise on the briny from ports, resorts and piers around the UK. For the most part, everything usually went well on these trips; however, sometimes it did not, and this book chronicles tales of the difficulties and pressures faced both behind the scenes and in plain view.
What happened when a paddle steamer broke down or was caught out in a dense fog? Why did they need special riding posts in particular ports? Who were some of the captains, and how did they manage to keep their ships and their passengers safe in an age before radar and satellite navigation? What made people get angry and crews embark on fisticuffs? What were the problems posed by some routes? Why was a paddle steamer banned and how did someone end up in court?
These selected tales from the heyday of the excursion paddle steamers in the UK give a little flavour of what it was like to be there at the time, while period images of the people and the ships provide fascinating illustrations to their individual stories.
John Megoran was born in Weymouth and grew up watching the last days of Cosens's paddle steamers in the 1960s. He returned PS Kingswear Castle to service in 1985 and subsequently ran the business on the Medway and Thames as well as sailing as the steamer's principal captain.