PS Ryde was a paddle steamer that was commissioned and run by the Southern Railway as a passenger ferry between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight
from 1937 to 1969, with an interlude during the Second World War where she served as a minesweeper and then an anti-aircraft ship, seeing action at both Dunkirk and D-Day.
PS Ryde was commissioned by Southern Railway in 1936 as a sister ship for Sandown. Costing £46,800 (equivalent to £3,040,000 in 2019) she was built by William Denny Brothers in
Dumbarton on Clydeside and was licensed to carry 1,011 passengers. After her launch on St George’s Day in 1937, by Lady Walker, wife of the General Manager of the Southern Railway she
replaced the PS Duchess of Norfolk on the Portsmouth to Ryde Pier passenger ferry service.
In 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, PS Ryde and PS Southdown were both requisitioned by the Royal Navy. She was renamed HMS Ryde and initially both were used as
Minesweepers in the Thames Estuary and Dover Straits as well as seeing action at Dunkirk, alongside PS Whippingham. In May 1944 she travelled to Portsmouth, from where she sailed to the Normandy
coast to take part in Operation Neptune on D-Day, where she protected the Mulberry Harbours at Omaha beach. At one stage during the landings, she was hit in her engine room by a shell, but it
did not explode. In spite of being instructed to beach the ship, if she ran out of coal, Ryde's commander, Lt. Commander Beamer, was able to return her safely to Portsmouth. After D-Day, HMS Ryde was
anchored off Bembridge to help to protect Portsmouth Harbour from V-1 flying bombs..
Reverting to her pre-war name upon her return to Southern Railway on 7 July 1945, PS Ryde worked on her former route and undertook a variety of
chartered trips as well, such as being chartered by Gilbery’s Gin to serve as a 'Floating Gin Palace' in London in 1968. However, the nationalised British Railways started to commission more
modern motor vessels after the war at the expense of the paddle steamers, starting with two diesel vessels in 1945 to replace PS Southsea and PS Portsdown. In July 1966, PS Sandown was retired and
scrapped, and, in September 1969, it was decided to retire PS Ryde as well. At the time of her retirement, she had ferried passengers across the Solent for thirty-two years and was the last
sea-going coal-fired paddle steamer in the world.
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. An assessment of the
vessel was to be undertaken with the assistance of the National Ships Register.
Her funnel, which collapsed in 2006, was the first of her rusting components to give up the ghost. Then, in 2012, the bridge collapsed into the Ryde’s decaying superstructure.
Despite her place on the National Register of Historic Ships, and the ongoing efforts of preservationists to save her, the old paddle steamer has never been able to escape the abandonment that has
gripped her for decades.
After many years abandoned on moorings at Island Harbour Marina on the River Medina, she was purchased by the PS Ryde Trust in late 2018, with the intention of raising money for
her restoration. That project was abandoned in January 2019.
FINDS OF 3,000 YEARS AGO
Bronze Age Artefacts that had lain undisturbed for 3,000 years have been uncovered in a field near Peebles in Scotland. The treasures including
a complete horse harness and a sword, which was found still in its scabbard, have been dated to between 1,000-900BC Also found were decorated straps, buckles, rings, ornaments and axle caps for
chariot wheels. After 22 days spent researching the field before all the items were found, the metal detector enthusiasts then transferred all the artefacts to the National Museums Collection Centre
Gosport is sited on a peninsular on the western side of Portsmouth harbour, opposite Portsmouth. According to the town’s motto, the name of Gosport
comes from the words ‘God’s Port’, which King Stephen supposedly used when he gave thanks in 1144 for making a safe landing there in a storm. Sadly, this appears to have been a 19th-century
invention. A disparaging nickname for Gosport Particularly used in Portsmouth, is ‘Turktown’, because there is a Turkish graveyard in the grounds of the Clayhall Royal Naval Cemetery at Haslar, with
the graves of 26 Turkish sailors from two visiting ships who died of natural causes between 1850 and 1852.