PS Lincoln Castle, North East Lincolnshire

The PS Lincoln Castle was the last of the River Humber ferries to be built prior to the construction of the road bridge, which brought the service to a close. One of three sister ships, amazingly all of which have survived, the PS Lincoln Castle was built in 1940 at the A. & J. Inglis boatyard on the River Clyde in Scotland. Owned by the London and North Eastern Railway Company (LNER) she was 200ft (60.6m) in length, 33ft (10m) across the beam, had a gross tonnage of 598 tonnes, and was powered by a triple expansion diagonal reciprocating steam engine.

Completed after the outbreak of the Second World War, the PS Lincoln Castle's journey to Grimsby was never going to be an easy one. There were only two routes that could be taken. To the south, around the south-west coast of England and up through the English Channel, thereby risking attack by both the German navy and air forces, or to the north around Scotland and into the stormy waters of the North Sea. Deciding on the northern route, the PS Lincoln Castle soon encountered a severe storm in which she was damaged, forcing her to return to the River Clyde yard for repair. A second attempt was made in the spring of 1941, this time as part of a larger convoy. Although spotted by a German dive-bomber, PS Lincoln Castle arrived safely in Grimsby to begin a busy life transporting troops and supplies along the River Humber to whereever they were needed.

After the war, LNER were amalgamated with British Rail but the three sister ships, PS Tattershall Castle, PS Wingfield Castle and PS Lincoln Castle, continued their ferry services between Hull and New Holland. They also ran a Sunday excursion schedule from Hull, providing evening cruises to Read's Island, and daytime trips to Grimsby. This role continued until the opening of the Humber Bridge in 1981 when, as the country's last coal-fired paddle steamer, PS Lincoln Castle was laid up.

Purchased privately by the Johnson family in 1986 the PS Lincoln Castle was brought back to the National Fishing Heritage Centre, Grimsby having been sympathetically converted to provide a unique location as a restaurant, bar and function suite. A role that she would fulfil for a further 20 years.

Inevitably time takes its toll and the difficulty of moving the ship from the dock, due to the construction of the road bridge, meant that proper and regular maintenance of the hull was not maintained. This led to leaks that proved extremely difficult to resolve. In an attempt to facilitate repairs the ship was deliberately grounded on a slag pile constructed in one corner of the dock, so that she was exposed at low tide. However, it proved impossible to affect proper repairs from this location and the additional stresses placed on the hull plates ultimately made the situation worst. The costs of refloating the PS Lincoln Castle and getting her access to a dry dock were soon to become prohibitive to her owners.

Tragically, having been closed to the public since 2006, this important piece of our maritime heritage was needlessly broken up in the Alexandra Dock in October 2010, despite a valiant last ditch attempt by the Lincoln Castle Preservation Society to save her.


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