The Western Morning NewsMay 25th 1990

Floating flowers and coffee idea.

With so much competition in the lucrative flower business these days, it is necessary to be adventurous to stay ahead.

Jane Adele Flowers of Truro are boldly coming out of the city hall where they have been trading for a number of years to a more novel city centre location - a paddle steamer.

They have bought the Compton Castle, a former floating restaurant moored at Lemon Quay, where they will continue the florist business but with the addition of a coffee shop.

Although the price paid is not being disclosed, Peter Heather of selling agents Miller & Co, said that the price reflects recent vandalism of the boat. The vessel was also the target of squatters.

He said that the paddle steamer is undergoing refurbishment to cater for its new use.

Since it was built in 1914 by Cox & Company of Falmouth for Dartmouth Steam Packet Company, the Compton Castle has already had various uses.

The packet company's aim was to establish a passenger service between Dartmouth and Totnes. In the early1900s the single saloon fare was one shilling and sixpence while a motor cycle - with empty tanks - was charged two shillings. Dogs were transported for six pence.

Lightly built, it was not designed to leave the estuary beyond the river mouth. It had fixed float paddle wheels, sponsons from stem to stern and deck space for up to 400 passengers.

During the First World War the paddle steamer was laid up but returned to service until the Second World War when the vessel was used to carry ammunition for the Royal Navy on the River Dart.

Peacetime sailings restarted in 1947, continuing until 1963 when the Compton Castle was sold and removed to Kingsbridge, where, after substantial restoration, she was used as a floating tea shop and museum.


During this period the vessel became a major tourist attraction and was often chartered for filming assignments.

Resold in 1978 and taken to Looe for further restoration before becoming a floating restaurant, she was eventually towed to Truro to a permanent mooring at Lemon Quay.

The quay was reconstructed to accomodate the mooring. Car parking and a landscaped lawn area have been created.

Now the vessel awaits another colourful chapter in its contrasting working life which sees a switch from bicyles and ammunition to flowers, from tea to coffee