Built:- 1927, by Day & Summers Co. Southampton.
Last year of operation :- 1965.
Gross weight:- 388 tons.
Length:- 195 feet. Breadth:- 24.2 feet, Depth:- 8 feet.
Engines:- 2 cylinder compound diagonal. High Pressure cyl. diameter:-23”. Low pressure cyl. diameter:- 48”. Stroke:-51”. Nominal Horsepower:-94.
Engines built by:- Day & Summers Co. Southampton.
Status ( January 2011):- Preserved as a conference centre at Dunkerque, France.
PS. Princess Elizabeth at an unknown location. 1965.
This lovely steamer is my favourite paddle steamer and was originally built for the Southampton, Isle of Wight & South Of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. Ltd. and operated mainly from Southampton to the Isle Of Wight. During the second world war she made 4 trips to the Dunkirk beaches to evacuate troops stranded on the beaches. She saved many hundreds of lives. After the war she was converted to oil firing. In 1959 she was sold to Torbay Steamers and ran from Torquay in 1960 and 1961. However there were problems with the harbour master and eventually she was forced to stop operating from Torquay. She started running between Swanage and Bournemouth for the 1962 season, and then operated from Weymouth from 1963 until the end of the 1965 season, running trips to Lulworth Cove, and the Isle of Wight. In 1966 she was sold to Mr. A W Render for use as a planned casino. This came to nothing, and in 1967 she was still laid up in Weymouth harbour, and was sold during that year for scrap to a Newhaven based ship breaker. Her engines and equipment were removed. In 1970 she was moved to a berth on the Thames where she became a restaurant at the London Embankment. In December 1987 she was moved to Paris and was moored on the Seine at Pont Mirabeau. In 1999 she was moved to Dunkerque harbour, where she is now a conference centre.
(Above).The engines, captured for me by the photographer who worked on the Princess Elizabeth in the 1965 season. He used one of the *new* polaroid cameras enabling him to nearly instantly produce photo memories of the trip for the steamers passengers.
I first became acquainted with the “Princess Elizabeth” in July 1962, when as a 12 year old, my parents and I were spending our summer holiday at the usual destination of Swanage. We had spent the two previous years there, so I had been on trips to Bournemouth on Cosens “Embassy” and “Monarch”, and in 1961 the “Swanage Queen”. I made quite a few trips from Swanage to Bournemouth on the “Princess Elizabeth” that summer, as she had become my favourite paddle steamer.
PS. Princess Elizabeth backing out from the jetty at Weymouth Harbour at the start of the afternoon trip to Lulworth Cove in July 1965.
“Lizzy” making her way through Weymouth harbour to her berth in 1965.
I spent hours onboard, mostly down by the engine room watching the highly polished engines pounding their way to her destination. They had a special rhythm of their own, after every couple of revolutions there would be a gentle sigh from somewhere amongst the whirling machinery. It would sound somewhat like “rumble, rumble,sigh, rumble, rumble, sigh”
Our holiday in Swanage the following summer (1963), was a bit sad, as “Lizzie” was gone, but happily not totally gone as we caught glimpses of her picking her way over the waves, as she passed Swanage bay on her way from Weymouth to the Isle of Wight. In July 1965 we took a drive from Swanage to Weymouth and took a trip on “Lizzie” to Lulworth Cove and back. She was still in beautifully clean condition, it was on that trip that we managed to get a picture of her engineroom. In the spring of 1967 I took a day trip by rail, to Weymouth and managed to find her berth in the harbour and get a few photos before she was taken away for scrap, something that thankfully never happened, well except for her engines that is, which is a very great shame. It is nice to know she still exists today, maybe one day I will be able to visit her.
PS. Princess Elizabeth approaching Swanage Pier, July 1962. Taken with a very cheap plastic camera which I had bought a few days previously. Below is a souvenier from one of those trips.
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A sad sight, Princess Elizabeth laid up at Weymouth, above in 1967 looking a little bit forlorn, and in the photo to the right laid up in October 1966. I can remember standing there and praying that Princess Elizabeth would continue sailing on the south coast.