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River Dart Steamboat Company
 
Dartmouth SP Co Ltd (DSPCo) : 1859-1877
Dartmouth & Torbay SP Co (D&TSPCo): 1877-1906
River Dart Steamboat Company (RDSBCo): 1904-1974
 
 
 
Brief History of the Company:-
The origins of the company can be traced back to 1856, when Charles Seale Hayne inherited his father's fortune and began involvement in various local enterprises. Amongst these were the proposed Dartmouth & Torbay Railway and associated steamer services from the railhead at Kingswear. He also became the leader of the Dartmouth Harbour Commissioners. His first steamer was the Louisa, which he part-owned with John Moody. This was followed by the paddle tug Pilot, which was also used for excursions. In 1859 their shares passed to Seale Hayne's newly formed Dartmouth Steam Packet Co Ltd (DSPCo). There was a rival steamer, the Dartmouth, but she was sold before DSP's newbuilding, the Newcomin, arrived in 1864. The Dartmouth & Torbay Railway arrived in Kingswear in August 1864, and Seale Hayne ensured this his DSPCo also took the ferry rights between Kingswear and Dartmouth. For the three years 1865-1867, the DSPCo also operated ferry services from Dartmouth and Plymouth to Jersey, Guernsey and St Malo, but these were not repeated subsequently.
 
In 1877, the DSPCo was reformed as the Dartmouth & Torbay SP Co (D&TSPCo), which built the 108ft iron paddle steamer Berry Castle (1) in Kingswear in 1880. She set the layout for all subsequent Dart paddler steamers except one. Berry Castle (1) was joined by Dartmouth Castle (1) from Harvey of Hayle in 1885, and these two paddlers, with some smaller screw steamers, were the mainstay of the fleet for the next decade. In 1894, a smaller 80ft flush-decked paddle steamer, the Totnes Castle (1), was built by Philip of Dartmouth. A fourth paddle steamer, the Kingswear Castle (1), was added in 1904, the first of three steamers from Cox of Falmouth. In the same year, the name River Dart Steamboat Company (RDSBCo) was first used in advertising, although the company name was not officially changed until 1906. Dartmouth Castle (1) was replaced by the new Cox paddle steamer Dartmouth Castle (2) in 1907, the original being sold for further service in Ireland. Totnes Castle (1) was sold to Poole owners in 1912, to be replaced by the new Compton Castle in 1914, the last of three steamers from Cox of Falmouth. Compton Castle was the first of the Dart paddlers to have wide extended decks over elongated sponsons, which were later applied to the older Dartmouth Castle (2). Berry Castle (1) was sold for breaking up in 1917, due to reduced service during the war, and she was replaced with the company's first motor vessel in 1922, the Berry Castle (2), which lasted until 1947. In 1923 and 1924, two further near-copies of the 1914 Compton Castle were delivered by Philip of Dartmouth, the Totnes Castle (2) and Kingswear Castle (2). The latter used the engines from the Kingswear Castle (1) , which was then used as an isolation ship in Dartmouth Harbour. She was later burnt out as a safety precaution, and her remains are still visible near Totnes. A further new ship from Philips, delivered in 1926, was the 70ft motor vessel Clifton Castle, followed by the 60ft Seymour Castle in 1938, built by Ferris & Bank.
 
The four paddlers Dartmouth Castle (2), Compton Castle, Totnes Castle (2) and Kingswear Castle (2) were the mainstay of service until the Second War, and Totnes Castle (2) even carried out a few cruises during the conflict. The Dartmouth Castle (2) was laid up during the war, and was sold in 1947, being replaced by the motor vessel Dartmouth Castle (3) in 1948. She was followed by the similar Berry Castle (3) the following year, both from Philip of Dartmouth. In 1952, the RDSBCo was acquired by the Wales-based Evans & Reid Investment Company (resulting in the bizarre choice of names of Conway Castle and Cardiff Castle for their last two new vessels in 1963/64). In 1961, a controlling interest in the Devon Star Shipping Co was acquired, which included a booking office at Torquay and the motor vessel Torbay Prince, which ran connecting services with the company's Dart vessels. The link was short-lived, since the shares were sold in 1964, although through-ticketing arrangements with Torbay Prince remained. The last three paddlers continued in service until Compton Castle failed to obtain a passenger certificate for 1963. She was not repaired, the Conway Castle having been acquired that year. It was the turn of Totnes Castle (2) to require major expenditure the following year. Again this was rejected and she was replaced by Cardiff Castle, a sister to Conway Castle. The remaining paddle steamer, Kingswear Castle (2), had received a new boiler and hull repairs in 1961, finished at the end of the 1965 season, having become uneconomic compared to the motor vessels. She was eventually sold to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, who restored her on the River Medway for a full return to service in 1985. RDSBCo revenues continued to decline, and in 1972, Berry Castle (3) and Seymour Castle were sold, although both eventually returned to the Diver Dart. The remaining excursion sailings were ceased after the 1974 season, thus ending over 100 years of River Dart service by the same company. The Dartmouth Castle (3) was sold to the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company in 1975, for use at Plymouth. The other two remaining vessels, Cardiff Castle and Conway Castle, were initially laid up. However, at the end of the 1976 season, Dartmouth Castle (3) was sold back to Dart Pleasure Craft, who effectively succeeded the RDSBCo. Conway Castle was sold for service at Upton-on-Severn, and Cardiff Castle replaced Dartmouth Castle (3) in the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company fleet. In 1980, Dart Pleasure Craft took over the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company and for five years boats were regularly swapped between the Dart and Plymouth fleets. However, in 1985, Dart Pleasure Craft pulled out of Plymouth, concentrating on their Dart operations.
 
 
 
Map of the River Dart from an RDSBCo brochure.
)
 
 
 
Ships on this Page (to be completed):-
Berry Castle (1) - (1880-1917)
Berry Castle (2) - (1922-1947)
Berry Castle (3) - (1949-1972) - 150 passengers
Cardiff Castle - (1964-1977) - 400 passengers
Clifton Castle - (1926-1942)
Compton Castle - (1914-1964)
Conway Castle - (1963-1977) - 400 passengers
Dartmouth Castle (1) - (1885-1907)
Dartmouth Castle (2) - (1907-1947)
Dartmouth Castle (3) - (1948-1975) - 250 passengers
Kingswear Castle (1) - (1904-1924)
Kingswear Castle (2) - (1924-1967)
Seymour Castle - (1938-1973) - 100 passengers
Torbay Prince - (1961-1964)
Totnes Castle (1) - (1894-1912)
Totnes Castle (2) - (1923-1964)
 
Other Devon Pages:-
Devon Excursion Ships - Devon Header Page
Devon Princess Cruises
Devon Star Shipping
Devon Dock, Pier & SS Co
Exe to Sea Ferries J & M Rackley (operate Starcross ferry in 2007)
River Tamar - Millbrook SB Co
River Dart - Dart Pleasure Craft
River Dart - Ridalls
Western Lady Ferry Service
Kingswear Castle - Preserved Dart paddle steamer now on the River Medway
 
Associated Pages:-
Monarch (3) - Passenger carrying paddle steamer near Canterbury in Kent
Ferry Postcards
Cruise Ship Postcards
Ocean Liner Postcards
Simplon Postcards Home Page
 
References:-
Passenger Steamers of the River Dart - Richard Clammer & Alan Kittridge - Twelveheads Press 1987
South Devon Ferries - Alan Kittridge - Tempus (2003)
Trip Out Guides - Written and published by G.P.Hamer - various editions from 1977 to 2009 consulted
 
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River Dart Fleet List
 
 
 
Photographic postcard of unidentified early paddle steamer at Greenaway Ferry
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Berry Castle (1)
(River Dart SB Co: 1880-1917)
 
Photographic postcard of the Berry Castle (1)
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Art postcard of Berry Castle (1) at Totnes
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Kingswear Castle (1)
(River Dart SB Co: 1904-1924)
 
The fourth paddle steamer of the Dartmouth & Torbay SP Co (D&TSPCo), the Kingswear Castle (1), was added in 1904, the first of three steamers from Cox of Falmouth. In the same year, the name River Dart Steamboat Company (RDSBCo) was first used in advertising, although the company name was not officially changed until 1906.
 
In 1923 and 1924, two further near-copies of the 1914 Compton Castle were delivered by Philip of Dartmouth, the Totnes Castle (2) and Kingswear Castle (2). The latter used the engines from the Kingswear Castle (1) , which was then used as an isolation ship in Dartmouth Harbour. She was later burnt out as a safety precaution, and her remains are still visible near Totnes.
 
Photographic postcard of the Kingswear Castle (1) of 1904, whose engines were used in Kingswear Castle (2) of 1924.
 
 
Photochrom postcard of Kingswear Castle (1) of 1904, at Totnes.
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The remains of Kingswear Castle (1) of 1904, near Totnes.
Photo: © John Hendy 2007
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Dartmouth Castle (2)
(River Dart SB Co: 1907-1947)
 
Dartmouth Castle (1) was replaced by the new Cox paddle steamer Dartmouth Castle (2) in 1907, the original being sold for further service in Ireland. She was updated over years, receiving an enclosed wheelhouse, and extended wide decks over lengthened sponsons as introduced on the Compton Castle of 1914. The Dartmouth Castle (2) was laid up during the war, and was sold in 1947, being replaced by the motor vessel Dartmouth Castle (3) in 1948.
 
 
Paddle steamer Dartmouth Castle (2) off Dittisham.
 
 
Paddle steamer Dartmouth Castle (2) off Dittisham.
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Compton Castle
(River Dart SB Co: 1914-1964)
 
Totnes Castle (1) was sold to Poole owners in 1912, to be replaced by the new Compton Castle of 1914, the last of three new steamers from Cox of Falmouth. Compton Castle was the first of the Dart paddlers to have wide extended decks over elongated sponsons, which were later applied to the older Dartmouth Castle (2). The Compton Castle continued in service until she failed to obtain a passenger certificate for 1963. She was not repaired, the motor vessel Conway Castle having been acquired that year. Compton Castle was sold for use as a moored restaurant and museum in Kingsbridge, where she remained until 1978. She was then sold to owners in Looe, who towed her there for restoration, the intention being to return her to service on the Dart. This project ran into difficulties, and Compton Castle was sold again for conversion to a restaurant in Truro. The vessel was substantially modified, so that little sign of the original steamer remained.
 
 
Postcard of Compton Castle with open bridge (enclosed in the 1920s)
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River Dart Steamboat Company official postcard of Compton Castle.
 
 
Overland Views postcard 46/15 of the Kingswear Castle and Compton Castle (right) at the steamer quay Totnes.
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Overland Views postcard 46/14 of the Compton Castle against the quay (left), at the steamer quay Totnes.
Kingswear Castle (2) is in the centre, whilst Totnes Castle is turning in the background.
 
 
Photograph of Compton Castle, at Kingsbridge in 1974.
Photo: © Terry Boyle.
 
 
NPO Dexter postcard B7031-53788C of Compton Castle, at Kingsbridge.
 
 
Salmon postcard 1-49-04-03 of Compton Castle, at Kingsbridge.
 
 
Photo Precision postcard PT1781 of Compton Castle, at Kingsbridge.
 
 
Photographic postcard of Compton Castle, at Kingsbridge.
 
 
 
 
 
Totnes Castle (2)
(River Dart SB Co: 1923-1964)
 
In 1923 and 1924, two further -near-copies of the 1914 Compton Castle were delivered by Philip of Dartmouth, the Totnes Castle (2) and Kingswear Castle (2).
 
 
River Dart Steamboat Company official postcard of Totnes Castle (2).
 
 
River Dart Steamboat Company official postcard of Totnes Castle (2).
 
 
Photochrom postcard 55363 of Totnes Castle (2) at Totnes.
 
 
Overland Views postcard 46/14, showing Totnes Castle turning in the background.
Compton Castle is against the quay (left), whilst Kingswear Castle (2) is in the centre.
 
 
Photographic postcard of Totnes Castle (2).
 
 
 
 
 
Kingswear Castle (2)
(River Dart SB Co: 1924-1967)
 
In 1923 and 1924, two further near-copies of the 1914 Compton Castle were delivered by Philip of Dartmouth, the Totnes Castle (2) and Kingswear Castle (2). The latter used the engines from the Kingswear Castle (1) , which was then used as an isolation ship in Dartmouth Harbour.
 
Complete history of Kingswear Castle
 
 
Valentine's postcard 208903 of the Kingswear Castle (2) of 1924, at Totnes Landing Stage.
 
 
Valentine's postcard 208904 of the Kingswear Castle (2)
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Valentine's postcard 208904 of the Kingswear Castle (2)
This is a variation on the card above. The trees have been given extra foliage and the lower left bank has been 'tidied up'
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Overland Views postcard 46/15 of the Kingswear Castle and Compton Castle (right) at the steamer quay Totnes.
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Overland Views postcard 46/14 of the Kingswear Castle (2), centre, at the steamer quay Totnes.
Compton Castle is against the quay, whilst Totnes Castle is turning in the background.
 
 
Kingswear Castle at Dartmouth
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Pamlin Prints postcard SM651 of the Kingswear Castle (2), leaving Dartmouth.
 
 
After The Battle postcard P260 of the Kingswear Castle (2) Dartmouth.
Photo: © J.B.Bucknall
 
 
PSPS postcard CKPSKC1 of the Kingswear Castle (2) at Dartmouth.
Painting: Robert Lloyd.
 
 
Whiteholme "Hail Caledonia" postcard 6519X of the Kingswear Castle (2) on the River Dart.
 
 
Whiteholme "Hail Caledonia" postcard 6726X of the Kingswear Castle (2) on the River Dart.
 
 
PSPS River Medway service of Kingswear Castle
 
 
 
 
 
Clifton Castle
(River Dart SB Co: 1926-1972)
 
The 70ft Clifton Castle was built by Philips of Dartmouth in 1926, powered by three paraffin engines driving triple screws. She was requisition in 1942 and was involved in the D-Day landings of American troops on to the Normandy beaches in 1944. She was converted to diesel engines driving twin screws. After the war she served on the Thames running from Westminster to Hampton Court, owned by C.Whatford (1954-1981), G.Wheeler (1981) and Colliers Launches (1982- ).
 
 
Postcard of Clifton Castle passing another boat at Kingston-on-Thames
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Clifton Castle on the Thames near Kew.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 24th June 2006.
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Seymour Castle
(River Dart SB Co: 1938-1972)
 
The 60ft Seymour Castle was built by Ferris & Bank, Dartmouth, in 1938. She was sold to Tony & Hilary Soper in 1972 for use on bird watching cruises as the Scomber. After a spell at Plymouth as the Southern Comfort of Plymstock, she returned to the Dart in 1982 for Ridalls as the Dartmothian.
 
 
Dennis postcard T.0601 of Seymour Castle (3) and Berry Castle (3) (right) at Totnes
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Dartmouth Castle (3)
(River Dart SB Co: 1948-1975)
(Millbrook SB & Trading Co: 1975-1976)
(Dart Pleasure Craft: 1976- )
 
The paddle steamer Dartmouth Castle (2) of the River Dart Steamboat Company was laid up during the war, and was sold in 1947, being replaced by the motor vessel Dartmouth Castle (3) in 1948. She was followed by the similar Berry Castle (3) the following year, both from Philip of Dartmouth. In 1975, the Millbrook SB & Trading Co bought the large Dartmouth Castle (3) from the ailing River Dart Steamboat Company. They sold her back to Dart Pleasure Craft the following year, who effectively succeeded the River Dart Steamboat Company on River Dart services. In 1977, the Millbrook SB & Trading Co bought the Cardiff Castle also from the River Dart Steamboat Company. In 1980, the directors of the Millbrook SB & Trading Co (Derek Crawford, Les Worth and Sidney Mashford) sold their shares to Dart Pleasure Craft who then ran both Dart and Plymouth services.
 
In 2007, Mike Barrow of Devon Princess Cruises ran the Dartmouth Castle on cruises from Exmouth and Torbay. For cruise details contact:- www.avocetcruises.co.uk.
 
More images of Dartmouth Castle
 
 
River Dart Steamboat Company official postcard of Dartmouth Castle (3).
 
 
River Dart Steamboat Company official postcard of Dartmouth Castle (3).
 
 
 
 
 
 
Berry Castle (3)
(River Dart SB Co: 1949-1972)
 
The paddle steamer Dartmouth Castle (2) of the River Dart Steamboat Company was laid up during the war, and was sold in 1947, being replaced by the motor vessel Dartmouth Castle (3) in 1948. 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), she returned to the Dart in 1977 as the Totnes Castle (3) for Dart Pleasure Craft. In 1985 she passed to Plymouth Boat Cruises, retaining her name.
 
 
Photograph of Berry Castle (3).
 
 
N.P.O.Dexter postcard B7113-57368C of Berry Castle (3) at Totnes
 
 
Dennis postcard T.0601 of Seymour Castle (3) and Berry Castle (3) (right) at Totnes
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Plastichrome postcard P37821 of Berry Castle (3) at Totnes
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Postcard showing Totnes Castle (3), ex-Berry Castle (3) (on the right) when serving with Plymouth Boat Cruises
(Southern Belle and Plymouth Venturer on the left)
 
 
 
 
 
Torbay Prince
(River Dart SB Co: 1961-1964)
 
In 1961, a controlling interest in the Devon Star Shipping Co was acquired, which included a booking office at Torquay and the motor vessel Torbay Prince, which ran connecting services with the company's Dart vessels. The link was short-lived, since the shares were sold in 1964, although through-ticketing arrangements with Torbay Prince remained.
 
 
Advert for Torbay Prince in River Dart SB Co guide
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Photographic postcard of Torbay Prince at Harwich
 
 
Photographic postcard of Tudor Prince (ex-Torbay Prince).
 
 
Photographic postcard of Tudor Prince (ex-Torbay Prince).
 
 
 
 
 
Conway Castle
(River Dart SB Co: 1963-1977)
 
Compton Castle failed to obtain a passenger certificate for 1963. She was not repaired, and the Conway Castle was acquired that year to replace her. When the River Dart SB Co ceased services at the end of 1974, Conway Castle was initially laid up, later being sold for service at Upton-on-Severn.
 
 
Conway Castle being launched.
 
 
River Dart Steamboat Company official brochure showing Conway Castle.
 
 
Enlarged image of Conway Castle from the brochure above.
 
 
River Dart Steamboat Company official postcard of Conway Castle.
 
 
 
 
 
Cardiff Castle
(River Dart SB Co: 1964-1977)
(Millbrook SB & Trading Co: 1977-1980)
(Dart Pleasure Craft: 1980- )
 
Totnes Castle (2) required major expenditure in 1964. Again this was rejected and she was replaced by Cardiff Castle, a sister to Conway Castle. When services ceased at the end of 1974, Cardiff Castle was initially laid up. In 1977 she was sold to replace the Dartmouth Castle (3) in the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company fleet. In 1980, Dart Pleasure Craft took over the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company.
 
 
Cardiff Castle in Dart Pleasure Craft service, with large saloon.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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