PS Ryde

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Paddle steamer "Ryde" - - 156552.jpg
PS Ryde at Binfield, Isle of Wight, in 2006
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Name: PS Ryde
  • Southern Railway (1937–39)
  • Royal Navy (1939–45)
  • Southern Railway (1945–47)
  • British Railways (1948–70)
  • Island Marina Holdings (−2010)
  • Southern Railway (1937–47)
  • British Railways (1948–70)
Port of registry:
  • United Kingdom Portsmouth (1937–39)
  • United Kingdom Portsmouth (1939–45)
  • United Kingdom Portsmouth (1945–70)
Builder: William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton
Cost: £46,800
Launched: 23 April 1937
In service: 1937
Out of service: 1970–2010
  • Code Letters MMKG (1937–39, 1945–79)
  • ICS Mike.svgICS Mike.svgICS Kilo.svgICS Golf.svg
  • United Kingdom Official Number 166061 (1937–70)[1]
Fate: Scrapping started, but halted
General characteristics
Length: 216 ft 0 in (65.84 m)[1]
Beam: 29 ft 1 in (8.86 m)[1]
Draught: 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)[1]
Installed power: Triple expansion steam engine[1]
Propulsion: Paddle wheels

PS Ryde is a paddle steamer commissioned and run by Southern Railway as a passenger ferry between mainland England and the Isle of Wight from 1937 to 1969. She saw wartime service and later became a nightclub. After many years abandoned on moorings at Island Harbour Marina on the River Medina, scrapping started but was halted. The new owners of the marina are currently looking into the feasibility of still saving her.


PS Ryde 1937 – 1939[edit]

PS Ryde was commissioned by Southern Railway in 1936 as a sister ship for Sandown. Costing £46,800 (equivalent to £2,770,000 in 2016)[2] she was built by William Denny and Brothers in Dumbarton on Clydeside. After her launch on 23 April 1937 by Lady Walker, wife of Sir Herbert Walker, General Manager of the Southern Railway[3] she replaced the PS Duchess of Norfolk on the Portsmouth to Ryde Pier passenger ferry service.[4]

HMS Ryde 1939 – 1945[edit]

In 1939 PS Ryde and PS Sandown were requisitioned by the Royal Navy. She was renamed HMS Ryde, and initially both were used as Minesweepers in the Dover Straits. After two years Ryde was converted to an anti-aircraft ship and served on the Thames Estuary and at Harwich. In May 1944 she traveled to Portsmouth, from where she sailed to the Normandy coast to take part in Operation Neptune on D-Day.

PS Ryde 1945 – 1970[edit]

1969 at Portsmouth.

Reverting to her pre-war name on her return to Southern Railway on 7 July 1945[5] PS Ryde worked on her former route and undertook a variety of chartered trips. However, the nationalised British Railways began to commission more modern motor vessels and in September 1969[6] it was decided to retire her.[4]

Ryde Queen 1970 – 2012[edit]

PS Ryde in 1977, with the Medway Queen in the background
PS Ryde in 2008

Avoiding the scrapyard, PS Ryde was bought by two Isle of Wight entrepreneurs, Alan Ridett (1936 - 2008) and his cousin Colin[7]. In September 1970 she began a new career as a nightclub. Renamed the Ryde Queen, she replaced the smaller PS Medway Queen in moorings at Binfield Marina on the River Medina near Newport.[8] In 1977 she caught fire[9] with damage estimated at £100,000 but she was repaired. However, by the late 1980s her popularity had waned and the nightclub was closed. She remained derelict and abandoned on her mooring, gradually deteriorating. In August 2006 her funnel collapsed[10] and she is now possibly beyond repair.[11]

In September 2009 it was announced that enthusiasts were attempting to raise funds to buy the steamer, held by receivers after her former owner, Island Harbour Holdings LTD, went into administration. A non-profit company, PS Ryde Trust, wished to restore the vessel to once again be in the condition to sail tourists across the Solent. It was estimated that £7 million would be needed for the restoration, with fundraising needs of £1,000 a month for mooring fees and £600,000 for the move to a dry dock, with the remainder of the funding coming from the National Lottery.[12] In early 2010, work began to dismantle the vessel, beginning with asbestos removal.[13] In 2012, the ship's bridge collapsed. The PS Ryde Trust failed to negotiate a deal to save the vessel and the PS Ryde was left to continue to deteriorate.

Ryde Queen 2014[edit]

Ryde in May 2016

An application was made to the Isle of Wight Council Planning Department on 11 June 2014 by the new owners of Island Harbour Marina for permission to retain the PS Ryde on site for a further three years. This is to allow time to evaluate and find the funding necessary to try and save her. The application was approved by the Council on 5 August 2014, guaranteeing her continued existence for at least another three years [14] The planning permission granted for the redevelopment of the marina states that Ryde must be removed within three years of work commencing. She must be removed by November 2017.[4]

In June 2018, it was reported that Ryde had been sold and that there were plans to restore the vessel. A charitable trust was to be set up with this aim. As assessment of the vessel is to be undertaken with the assistance of the National Ships Register. It may be necessary to cut the ship into sections to move her, with restoration estimated at £10 million.[15]

In fiction and the media[edit]

The Ryde Queen nightclub features in Isabel Ashdown's novel Summer of '76.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "LLOYD'S REGISTER, NAVIRES A VAPEUR ET A MOTEURS" (PDF). Plimosll Ship Data. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  2. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 6 November 2017. 
  3. ^ "Southern Railway's Ryde Launched". Portsmouth Evening News. England. 23 April 1937. Retrieved 26 February 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ a b c Young, Andrew; Jennings, Toby (6 October 2017). "Without a Paddle". Steam Railway. Peterborough: Bauer Cosumer Media (472): 72–76. ISSN 0143-7232. 
  5. ^ "Steamer Ryde Returns". Hampshire Telegraph. England. 13 July 1945. Retrieved 26 February 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ "The Last commercial paddle steamer..." Birmingham Daily Post. England. 8 September 1969. Retrieved 26 February 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ "Isle of Wight: Alan Hilton Ridett obituary". Retrieved 2018-02-19. 
  8. ^ "Medway Queen Paddle Steamer". Retrieved 24 February 2008. 
  9. ^ "Blaze on a paddle steamer..." Coventry Evening Telegraph. England. 10 August 1977. Retrieved 26 February 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ "Historic vessels at Risk". Archived from the original on 2 November 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2008. 
  11. ^ "Paddle Steamer Ryde". Retrieved 24 February 2008. 
  12. ^ "A new lease of life for the old lady of the sea?". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 9 October 2009. 
  13. ^ "Paddle Steamer Ryde Trust". Paddle Steamer Ryde Trust. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  14. ^ "2014 Planning Application supporting documents". Isle of Wight Council. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "Isle of Wight Paddle Steamer Ryde Rescued for Restoration". Steam Railway. Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media (481): 6. 22 June 2018. ISSN 0143-7232.