Since the dawn of steam navigation, people have taken pleasure cruises in Britain's rivers and estuaries and along the coast. Andrew Gladwell takes us on a tour of the south coast of England, illustrating the story of the paddle and pleasure steamers from south Devon to Sussex. Southampton and Bournemouth were the homes of the Red Funnel fleet, and Weymouth housed the ships of Cosens. Interlopers such as the White Funnel ships of P&A Campbell also operated in the area, as did independents in Brighton and Hastings.
From the beauty of Lulworth Cove, where the paddlers would beach on the shallow sand to let passengers off, to the piers of Swanage, Poole, Bournemouth, the Isle of Wight, Southampton, Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings, pleasure steamers were a common sight until the late 1960s, when Cosens finally closed and scrapped their ships, although the PS Waverley and the Balmoral still continue the tradition.
Andrew Gladwell was an archivist of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society and has been a life-long steamer enthusiast. A prolific author he has written several books on paddle steamers, many of which published by Amberley. He lives in Kent.