Cruises by pleasure steamer along the Essex coast have been a popular day out since the Victorian age, and are still going strong today despite a plunge in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s and several tragic fires. For most Londoners, the tradition of going to the seaside was always by pleasure steamer. These steamers, with their happy names, colourful liveries and luxurious interiors, became a memorable annual tradition. Steamers such as the Royal Daffodil, Royal Sovereign, Queen of the Channel and Royal Eagle became part of everyday life. For many, there was simply no other way to visit the seaside! And when they arrived at Southend or Clacton, the day was a great ritual where people visited their best-loved attraction, sat in their favourite gardens and topped their day off with fish and chips and a Rossi ice cream. Then they ran along the pier for the journey home to London. From the start of paddle steamer services in the 1820s, through their great heyday in the 1930s and the collapse in passenger numbers following the Second World War to the nostalgic service now provided by Balmoral and Waverley, Andrew Gladwell explores this simple pleasure which brought so much joy.