South West Maritime History Society
The Society was founded in 1984. Its aims are to encourage interest in all aspects of our maritime heritage and to promote research in these fields, leading where possible to the publication of the result of such studies.
Members benefit from opportunities to futher their interest in maritime history, through a newsletter, Journal, visits and meetings to historic vessels and sites of interest in the South West.
Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust
Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle, known affectionately by her initials KC, is Britain’s last coal burning river paddle steamer.
She was built by Philip & Son of Dartmouth, Devon in 1924 for the River Dart Steamboat Company Limited for service on the River Dart. After restortion KC operated from 1985 until 2012 on the rivers Medway and Thames, based at Chatham Historic Dockyard.
In December 2012 Kingswear Castle returned to her home waters on the River Dart after an absence of 45 years. A year-long major rebuild commenced in winter 2021 it is expected that will see her return to service again in 2023.
Excelsior is one of the last surviving Lowestoft fishing smacks. She was built in 1921 by John Chambers & Co of Lowestoft to trawl the southern North Sea. During the 1930s she was sold to Norway and converted to a motor coaster, removing her topmast and bowsprit and installing a wheelhouse on deck. She was used around the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish coasts.
Excelsior returned to her home port just over 50 years after she was built and restoration took 16 years and finally, in 1988, The Princess Royal commissioned Excelsior as a sail training ship. The following year she started a new career.
Current voyage information is on the website.
Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society
Built in 1913, she was originally named Viking. In April 1913, she was acquired by the Admiralty and re-named Terrier. Based in Chatham she worked in and around the Medway for 35 years, which included the two World Wars. She was sold in 1948, re-named Kerne, and worked on the Mersey, Manchester Ship Canal and Weaver Navigation as a lighterage tug until her retirement in 1971. The Kerne was about to go for scrap but was rescued her from the cutter’s torch and has now been wonderfully preserved for 50+ years.
During the Summer months the vessel can often be found berthed at the Maritime Museum in Liverpool and at other North West Ports.