On Saturday 9th June, the weather was very good and sun was shining warm. Twenty two of us went to the Chatham Dockyard (Former Royal Navy Dockyard), to catch Kingswear Castle Steam Paddle boat.. a very unusual boat driven by coal fired steam.. a restored 1900 boat from the past built in 1924 with engine renovated from even older boats. We all 'sailed' on the steamboat turning its twp paddles on its both sides and watched the boiler man stoking the boiler with coal and the tea was even made hot water from the boiler.
The sea was very smooth and after two hours of padding, we came to Southend-On-Sea pier passing a lot of interesting riverside buildings such as old river castle, big oil yards, old river forts and many interesting building on the sides of the river.
On arrival at Southend-On-Sea's pier, we board out of the boat onto the lower landing of the pier which was full of seaweeds and sea lichens as it is under the sea when at high tide. It was fortunately at low tide when we came to the pier.. we carefully climbed onto the pier and walked up to the upper deck passing where there used to be theatre, restaurant and hall of mirror all destroyed in past pier great fires some years ago. All now charred but now part restored on its platform flooring. We walked on some catch pier train to reach a mile and half end of the pier.. some even walked all the way down.. the pier is famous for its length and had four great pier fires, the last time was in 1995. I think the pier is waiting for the money from the lottery fund to have full restoration on it damaged part of the pier.
After an hour we came back to the boat for a return trip.. On it voyage back to Chatham one of the yachts on the river managed to ram the side of the paddle boat but no real damage done.. It was very loud and frightening that the yacht may have lost its control by a sudden wind. We paddle on and arrived Chatham. We all had a great time and mostly have gone tan with a good sun all the way and very relaxed.
For more information on the history of the coat fired paddle boats look up www.pskc.freeserve.co.uk/history.ntm