WITH the next season of summer steamer excursions due to start soon, let's cast our minds back to the ‘early days’ whence it all began. This piece follows on from 'Thrills and spills on local steamboats in Penarth' (Penarth Times, May 24)...

FOLLOWING the disposal of the firm’s first vessel - Lady Margaret, they replaced her with a much older vessel, Carrick Castle built in Paisley by J Fullerton & Co in 1870.

She had been a bit of a 'traveller' - ships that did not pay their way on the Clyde were soon replaced. She had several owners in Glasgow, Leith and Hastings and started her career in Cardiff in May 1888.

Of 176 gross tonnage, length of 192 feet and of fair speed, she was a distinct improvement to her predecessor.

Indeed she was the longest serving vessel of the fleet - operating until 1898 when (by now flying the flag of John Gunn of Cardiff and after a further change of name to Lord Tredegar) she was sold to Percy Baker, a Cardiff scrap merchant, in October of that year.

Photographs of this vessel are rare - but here we see her in Bristol.

Edwards and Robertson continued to augment their fleet with steam paddle tugs viz., the 'Earls' of Dunraven, Bute and Jersey. However, as competition increased, they aimed to 'run the opposition off the channel'!

They ordered a fast, brand new ship which was intended to do the job - the Lady Gwendoline (named after the Marchioness of Bute).

* Next time: the Lady Gwendoline

Brian Keitch