Author: Andrew Gladwell
For several generations of Londoners the highlight of each summer was a day trip to the coast aboard a well-loved pleasure steamer. The interwar years saw some of the finest pleasure steamers ever being built for Thames service and names such as Royal Eagle, Golden Eagleand Crested Eaglebecame bywords for luxury and speed as they took their happy throng of passengers to coastal resorts such as Margate, Southend, Ramsgate and Clacton. By the mid-1930s, sleek modern motor vessels were replacing the older paddle steamers. Wartime service took its toll on London’s pleasure steamer fleet but, by the late 1940s, favourite old vessels had returned and were joined by wonderful replacement vessels for wartime losses. By the 1950s, the Thames fleet was truly magnificent and it seemed that the peacetime queues of passengers would last forever in those sun-drenched days of the 1950s. But, by the 1960s, it was all more or less over as the motor car became the preferred mode of getting to the seaside. For many, though, there would be nothing like a day trip aboard a pleasure steamer such as the Royal Daffodil, Queen of the Channel or the Royal Sovereign.
With a wonderful array of nostalgic photographs, Andrew Gladwell celebrates this golden era of Thames pleasure steamers.