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Plymouth Boat Cruises
 
 
This is one of a series of Simplon web pages on Plymouth and Devon excursion vessels. This page shows Plymouth Boat Cruises, formed in 1981, and which passed to Sound Cruising in 2005.
 
 
Background
The River Dart Steamboat Company ceased services at the end of the the 1974 season, and Dart Pleasure Craft replaced them as the premier River Dart operator. In 1980, Dart Pleasure Craft purchased the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company at Plymouth, effectively giving them a monopoly in both areas. However aggressive competition from new company Plymouth Boat Cruises led to Dart Pleasure Craft to abandon the Plymouth area in 1985 and Dart Pleasure Craft concentrate solely on their River Dart operations since then. Dart Pleasure Craft retained Adrian Gilbert, Western Belle, Cardiff Castle, Plymouth Belle, Edgcumbe Belle and Dartmouth Castle (3). Southern Belle and Eastern Belle went to rivals Plymouth Boat Cruises, whilst Northern Belle and Queen Boadicea II and the Cremyll service went to Tamar Cruising & Cremyll Ferry Co, owned by John Knight, a former Cremyll Ferry skipper. My Queen and Eastern Belle moved to Dart operator G.H.Ridalls & Sons, and Totnes Castle (3) moved to former rivals Plymouth Boat Cruises.

Plymouth Pleasure Boat Operators Since 1985 by Graham Thorne:-
The withdrawal of Dart Pleasure Craft from their Plymouth operations in 1985 left two principal operators in the city:- Plymouth Boat Cruises and Tamar Cruising & Cremyll Ferry Co. There were also a number of independent operators with whom we shall deal later.
 
Plymouth Boat Cruises, based in Millbrook, had been operating since 1981 in competition with Dart Pleasure Craft. Tamar Cruising & Cremyll Ferry Co was a new company founded by John Knight, skipper of the Cremyll Ferry.
 
In 1985 Plymouth Boat Cruises were operating the Plymouth Venturer (1982, 94 grt) built for them at Mashford's and the wooden vessel Plymouth Princess (1921, 47 grt). Plymouth Princess had run at Southend from 1921 to 1958 as the Britannia I and on the Thames as Thames Britannia to 1982. Now in addition the company acquired the Southern Belle of 1925 and the Eastern Belle of 1946 from Dart Pleasure Craft. The Totnes Castle (3) of 1949 also came to them from the River Dart service of Dart Pleasure Craft. Other vessels, which had run in Plymouth for Dart Pleasure Craft such as Cardiff Castle, Dartmouth Castle (3), Edgcumbe Belle and Western Belle moved to the Dart. Plymouth Boat Cruises soon sold the Eastern Belle to G H Ridalls & Sons at Dartmouth. She became their Totnes Princess and remained on the Dart until 1999. Since 2001 she has run in the Isle of Man for Captain Stephen Carter's Laxey Towing Company bearing the traditional Manx name Karina.
 
Tamar Cruising & Cremyll Ferry Co began its operations in 1985 with the Northern Belle (1927, 25 grt) - she came with the Cremyll Ferry rights, having been on the service since delivery as Armadillo. From Dart Pleasure Craft for the Drake's Island Ferry came Queen Boadicea II (1936, 45 grt). In 1987 they took delivery of a new vessel the Plymouth Sound (1987, 49grt). In 1990 Tamar Cruising & Cremyll Ferry Co took delivery of another new vessel. She was the Plymouth Sound II (1990, 45 grt). Advertised for sale in late 1996, she now runs at Poole as the Purbeck Pride of R.C.Greenslade. Her hull is identical to Ridall's Dittisham Princess of 1995, which now runs with Dart Pleasure Craft, still as Dittisham Princess. In 1991 they disposed of the Queen Boadicea II to the National Waterways Museum, Gloucester, where she remains.
 
1995 saw the Cawsand Ferry vessel Weston Maid (1960) come under the Plymouth Boat Cruises banner. In 1999 the Tamar Belle (1) (1960) was listed with the Tamar Cruising fleet. She was the former Look Ahead II at St. Mawes and remained in Plymouth until 2004 when she went to Tewkesbury as Avon Belle II. In 2000 the Southern Belle was sold away to Isle of Wight owners. After an unhappy spell there she was sold to Steve Wilson at Great Yarmouth where she entered service with his Yarmouth & Gorleston SP Co in 2006. The tradition of vessel exchanges between Plymouth and Dartmouth was revived at the end of the 2002 season. Plymouth Venturer was sold to Dart Pleasure Craft, becoming their Dart Venturer with former Millbrook vessel, Plymouth Belle (1960), moving in the opposite direction.
 
The former Queen of Helford (1960, 21 grt) arrived with Tamar Cruising in 2004, taking the name Tamar Belle (2) from her predecessor, which had gone to Tewkesbury. The Queen of Helford had run for a variety of owners on both Dart and Fal and now became one of the select band of vessels to run at all three principal Devon and Cornwall locations. In the same year a new player arrived on the Plymouth scene in the shape of the Spirit of Plymouth (2004, 66 grt), designed by her owner, and built locally. She ran under the banner of Sound Cruising, based at Hooe on the Devon side of Plymouth Sound.
 
By 2005 Sound Cruising had taken over Plymouth Boat Cruises, there being insufficient trade for three operators. The Totnes Castle (3) was sold to Ullswater Steamers and, after an epic delivery voyage to Whitehaven, a road trip to Ullswater and a complete refit, she entered service with them as Lady Wakefield in 2007. Weston Maid and the Cawsand Ferry passed to a new operator, N Fox, and Coral Star IV (1962, 13 grt) ex-Paignton, joined the combined Sound Cruising fleet as the Mount Batten Ferry. The Catalina of Tenby (1999, 40 grt) arrived in the summer of 2005 but her stay with Sound Cruising was short lived and she left for Inverness to become the Jacobite Legend the following year.
 
Summer 2007 Fleets
Sound Cruising: Coral Star IV - Plymouth Belle - Plymouth Princess - Spirit of Plymouth
Tamar Cruising: Northern Belle - Plymouth Sound - Tamar Belle
 
 
Sections on this Page:-
Plymouth Boat Cruises
 
Plymouth Boat Cruises Boats on this Page:-
Eastern Belle (Built: 1946 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1985-198?)
Plymouth Belle (Built: 1960 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 2002-2005)
Plymouth Princess (Built: 1921 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1982-2005)
Plymouth Venturer (Built: 1982 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1982-2002)
Southern Belle (Built: 1925 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1980-1985)
Totnes Castle (3) (Built: 1949 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1985-2005)
Weston Maid (Built: 1960 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1995-2005)
 
Simplon Devon Pages:-
Devon Excursion Ships - Devon Header Page
K.J.Bridge
Brixham Belle Cruises (Carol & Peter Scott)
Dart Pleasure Craft
Dartmouth Lower Ferry
Dartmouth Higher Ferry
Devon Railway Ferries & Tenders
Devon SS Co
Millbrook SB & Trading Company
River Dart SB Co
G.H.Ridalls & Sons
Sound Cruising
Tamar Cruising & Cremyll Ferry Co
Other Plymouth Boats
 
Associated Pages:-
Ferry Postcards
Cruise Ship Postcards
Ocean Liner Postcards
Simplon Postcards Home Page
 
Search This Website:-

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References:-
Estuary & River Ferries of South West England - Martin Langley & Edwina Small - Waine Research (1984)
Passenger Steamers of the River Tamar - Alan Kittridge - Twelveheads Press 1984
Passenger Steamers of the River Dart - Richard Clammer & Alan Kittridge - Twelveheads Press 1987
South Devon Ferries - Alan Kittridge - Tempus (2003)
Steamers & Ferries of the River Tamar & Three Towns District - Alan Kittridge - Twelveheads Press 2003
Trip Out Guides - Written and published by G.P.Hamer - various editions from 1977 to 2007 consulted
Thanks to Graham Thorne, John Hendy and Geoff Hamer for assistence with this page







Plymouth Boat Cruises
(1981-2005)
 
 
Plymouth Princess
(Built: 1921 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1982-2005)
 
Plymouth Princess had run at Southend from 1921 to 1958 as the Britannia I and on the Thames as Thames Britannia to 1982. She was the first boat of Plymouth Boat Cruises in 1982 She passed to Sound Cruising in 2005 and remained in the fleet in 2007.
 
 
Britannia I running at Southend
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Plymouth Princess at Phoenix Wharf in Sound Cruising ownership
Photo: © Graham Thorne, 2006
 
 
Plymouth Princess at Phoenix Wharf in Sound Cruising ownership
Although by far the oldest vessel at Plymouth, the Princess had a full overhaul last year and
is fitted with twin V6 Daewoo diesel engines making her one of the fastest boats locally.
Photo: © Graham Thorne , January 2007
 
 
 
 
 
 
Plymouth Venturer
(Built: 1982 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1982-2002)
 
Former Millbrook SB Co director Sidney Mashford designed and built the boat Plymouth Venturer for new rival Plymouth Boat Cruises, who initiated a fares war with Dart Pleasure Craft in the Plymouth area. Plymouth Venturer entered service in 1982, a year after Plymouth Boat Cruises was formed with the Plymouth Princess. Plymouth Venturer was later sold to Dart Pleasure Craft in 2002 as Dart Venturer.
 
 
Postcard of Plymouth Venturer
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Postcard of Southern Belle, with Plymouth Venturer of rival Plymouth Boat Cruises behind the pier.
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Dart Venturer at Dartmouth
Photo: © John Hendy 2007
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Southern Belle
(Built: 1925 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1985-2000)
 
After the Second War, the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company received new investment when new directors Sidney Mashford (of Mashford's Shipyard) and William Crawford joined the directors. The Cremyll ferries at this time were the Armadillo and Shuttlecock, both steam powered. They were dieselised by the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company in 1946/7 and 1945 respectively. Mashford's rebuilt the Shuttlecock as the Southern Belle in 1945/46, and the Armadillo became the Northern Belle. Southern Belle was used on the Dockyard trips after the war, and passed to Dart Pleasure Craft in 1980. When they ceased their Plymouth services in 1985, Southern Belle was acquired by Plymouth Boat Cruises. She was sold to the Isle of Wight in 2000. In 2006 Southern Belle began service on the Norfolk Broads from Great Yarmouth with the Yarmouth & Gorleston SP Co.
 
Complete history of Southern Belle
 
 
Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company postcard of Southern Belle.
 
 
Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company postcard of Southern Belle.
Click to open larger image in new window
 
 
Southern Belle in later Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company service
Mashford's yard in the background is where she was built when it was Rogers.
Totnes Castle (3) can also be seen in the background - Photo: © Luke Farley
Click to open larger image in new window
 
 
Southern Belle in later Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company service
Photo: © Luke Farley
 
 
Postcard of Southern Belle in Dart Pleasure Craft ownership, with Plymouth Venturer
of rival Plymouth Boat Cruises, who acquired Southern Belle in 1985.
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Postcard of Southern Belle in Dart Pleasure Craft ownership, with Plymouth Venturer
of Plymouth Boat Cruises behind the pier and Totnes Castle (3) on the right.
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Eastern Belle
(Built: 1946 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1985)
 
In May 1957, the May Queen was bought by the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company and renamed Eastern Belle. She passed to Dart Pleasure Craft in 1980, and then to Plymouth Boat Cruises in 1985 when Dart Pleasure Craft pulled out of Plymouth services. Plymouth Boat Cruises soon sold the Eastern Belle to G H Ridalls & Sons at Dartmouth. She became their Totnes Princess and remained on the Dart until 1999. Since 2001 she has run in the Isle of Man for Captain Stephen Carter's Laxey Towing Company bearing the traditional Manx name Karina.
 
 
Postcard of Eastern Belle.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Totnes Castle (3)
(Built: 1949 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1985-2005)
 
Totnes Castle (3) was built as the Berry Castle (3) in 1949. The first post-war delivery to the River Dart Steamboat Company had been the motor vessel Dartmouth Castle (3) in 1948, replacing the paddle steamer Dartmouth Castle (2). She was followed by the similar Berry Castle (3) the following year, both from Philip of Dartmouth. RDSBCo revenues were declining in the late 1960s, and in 1972, Berry Castle (3) and Seymour Castle were sold, although both eventually returned to the Diver Dart. After periods at Fareham and Rochester (as Golden Cormorant), Berry Castle (3) returned to the Dart in 1977 as the Totnes Castle (3) for Dart Pleasure Craft. She was sold to Plymouth Boat Cruises in 1985. She is now on Ullswater as Lady Wakefield.
 
 
Berry Castle (3) in River Dart SB Co service.
 
 
N.P.O.Dexter postcard B7113-57368C of Berry Castle (3) in River Dart SB Co service.
 
 
Dennis postcard T.0601 of Seymour Castle (3) and Berry Castle (3) (right) at Totnes in River Dart SB Co service
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Plastichrome postcard P37821 of Berry Castle (3) at Totnes
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Postcard showing Totnes Castle (3) (on the right) when serving with Plymouth Boat Cruises
Southern Belle and Plymouth Venturer are on the left
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Weston Maid
(Built: 1960 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 1995-2005)
 
1995 saw the Cawsand Ferry vessel Weston Maid (1960) come under the Plymouth Boat Cruises banner. Weston Maid and the Cawsand Ferry passed to a new operator, N Fox, in 2005.
 
 
N Fox's Weston Maid, 1960, leaving Mayflower Steps, Plymouth for Cawsand - her regular service
Photo: © Graham Thorne, June 2006
 
 
 
 
 
 
Plymouth Belle
(Built: 1960 - Plymouth Boat Cruises: 2002-2005)
 
Mashford's built the new motor vessel Plymouth Belle for the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company in 1961. She passed to Dart Pleasure Craft in 1980, and was later transferred to the River Dart. The tradition of vessel exchanges between Plymouth and Dartmouth was revived at the end of the 2002 season. Plymouth Venturer was sold to Dart Pleasure Craft, becoming their Dart Venturer with former Millbrook vessel, Plymouth Belle (1960), moving in the opposite direction. Plymouth Belle passed to Sound Cruising in 2005, and remained in their 2007 fleet.
 
 
Plymouth Belle at Plymouth.
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Plymouth Belle on the River Dart.
Photo: © Graham Thorne, September 1990
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Plymouth Belle on the River Dart, in Dart Pleasure Craft ownership.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 1997.
 
 
Plymouth Belle leaving Phoenix Wharf, Plymouth, in Sound Cruising ownership.
Photo: © Graham Thorne.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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