2010 and still afloat

Time for a few more memories.


From J Taylor.     Just to say I am the granddaughter of Sam Baume who was involved with the Compton Castle. My brother and sisters have very fond memories of holidays in Kingsbridge, our Grandad is laid to rest there with his wife, our nanna, Alice.

From Peter Duck.   I owned the Compton 1976/1978 did a lot of restoration work on her with old Harry Wood. We restored the engines to working order in 76 using her own steam. I visited the Castle in Truro early July. How sad, just the hull left. A new superstructure is being built to house a nightclub? What an end!

The engines are housed in a mock up of the engine room at the Black Gang Chine museum The present owner is Simon Dabell. He bought the engine in 1982.

My partner and I bought the old girl from Harry Wood in 1976. The idea was to restore the boat and operate her on Poole Harbour, for which we had permission from the Harbour Commissioners. The paddlewheel action would help to flush the small channels round the back of the islands. We also had sufficient wharfage to lay her alongside for bunkering and maintenance. Our first job was to replace the aft deck, which was rotten, with steel as a temporary fix to stiffen the hull and allow the aft saloon to be used. also the raised poop deck. We then refurbished the café and erected an awning over the forward deck. Whilst the café side was operating Harry and I set about the engine, rather rusty, but we soon had her shining again and all polished up. There was a major obstacle in our way that prevented us running her up. The main clack valve on the condenser outlet was bronze and cast iron. The cast iron was rotten. A massive expense to replace, but the Gods intended her to run again!! Harry and I visited the River Dart Steamship Co at their slip at the back of the College in Dartmouth and asked if they had any drawings relating to the valve; everything was being cleared out and thrown away. An old guy bless his heart said he thought he had seen a valve like that thrown into a scrap skip. I emptied the skip and found the exact new valve for which I paid the staggering sum of £12. The Gods were with us! Harry and I duly fitted the new valve; an exact fit. Our next job was to fire up the boiler, old as it was Harry knew it had been retubed in the late 50's after which it had very little use so we brushed them out and did a light inspection, We raised STEAM and had the engines turning over. Even with the paddle blades removed we pulled out the kedge anchor; people having tea on the deck asked if we were about to leave on a cruise!!

Later that year the old girl developed a leak. She had been rubbing on steel debris every time she settled on the tide - for all the time she had been in Kingsbridge - and a plate had worn through. Harry and I rolled a new plate, restoring her watertight again. But the Salcombe Harbour Master who looked upon her as a hulk, insisted she was filled to the top of her ribs with concrete. Also I learned later certain factions of the local council had plans to build on the quay where she was moored and wanted her removed. She was in no condition to be towed to Poole. The restoration project was scheduled to take several years before she would be ready to take that voyage. With all the local pressures we reluctantly had to sell her. Just imagine what a site she would have been fully restored and carrying passengers again on Poole Harbour.

Just a potted history of the old girl during my brief ownership. Hope it will help to fill in a few spaces.

From Terry O’Sullivan. I am currently doing a lot of the steel fabrication on the Compton. Go and see how she's getting on. You will be impressed. We and the chippies have done a huge amount of work. She has been completely gutted, and had a completely new ply deck stem to stern. I have extended the canopy by 4 meters front and back. I am about to start installing stainless hand rail all round. She will be fine. OnIy 10 years hull integrity left though.