The 4 Castles

The Castle paddle steamers were on the river for six decades . For 15 of these years all worked together, from a day in 1924 when a shining new Kingswear made up the quartet, up to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

The landmarks whose names they bore were all quite close by.

The castle at Dartmouth sits on the western edge of the Dart estuary and looks across to Kingswear Castle sitting low on sea washed rocks on the other side. Long ago a hidden link united them in the form of a submerged chain spanning the narrow estuary. In times of the threat from enemy ships the chain would be raised. Supposedly the castle came into being after Edward the Fourth offer the town £30 a year for all time if they erected tower and chain defence. Started in 1388 it was completed in 1403.

A paddle-steamer journey up river arrives at Totnes to seek out another castle. P S Compton Castle is just coming into Steamer Quay. The captain has been keeping everyone amused and intrigued with his river tales during the trip.

“Thanks Captain Steer, she's a fine boat.”

He smiles back in approval.

"You’ll find the castle at the top of the town. Remember, last journey back to Dartmouth is 6.15."

Maybe Captain Steer will have more tales to tell on the return voyage.

Totnes Castle looks down to the river. It was built by the Normans to defend an important river crossing point.

But the castle at Compton is much more elusive. It prefers to lie quietly hidden away. You have to wind along the lanes to find it. Situated a couple of miles west of Torquay just north of Marldon and beside Brownscombe Hill it is nowadays National Trust property. It was given to them by Commander Gilbert