By Phil Marsh
A FRESH bid has been launched to save 1937-built Southern Railway paddle steamer PS Ryde.
The Southern Railway operated a fleet of ships from south coast ports to various destinations between Rotterdam, Belgium, France, the Isle of Wight and to the Channel Islands. This aspect of ‘railway’ history has been well documented in the past but perhaps the final chapter should have been written last November with the scrapping of PS Ryde.
The ship was launched on April 23, 1937, built by Dumbarton’s William Deny & Brothers (as many other SR ships were), to ply the Solent as a 1050-capacity passenger ferry. When war broke out, the Southern Railway was operating 13 Isle of Wight steamships illustrating how large its fleet was.
In the Second World War she was used as an anti-aircraft vessel and also in the June 1944 Normandy landings. After the war, PS Ryde returned to the SR and then BR Isle of Wight duties and was laid up in 1969. Its vital statistics are 29ft wide, 216ft long and 10ft draught.
It started another career as a nightclub called the Ryde Queen in 1972 at its current location, now called Island Harbour, midway between Cowes and Newport on the River Medina.
Following a fire, the ship has been subject to several restoration attempts and a final deadline was issued, ordering it to be removed from Island Harbour by last November or she would be cut up and scrapped to make way for an ongoing leisure development.
Read more in Issue 243 of HR – on sale now!