Paddle Steamer Ryde
During 1941, the Southern Railway steamers Portsdown and Southsea had been lost to enemy mines. Now, new motor vessels were ordered to replace them. By the time MV Southsea and MV Brading entered service on 1 November 1948, the Southern Railway had been absorbed into the nationalised British Railways.
In 1951, with the success of these large yet economical vessels, they were joined by a third sister, Shanklin. Now that three motor ships were in service, the remaining three paddlers, Whippingham, Sandown and Ryde became relief and summer only vessels.
With her size and accommodation, the Ryde was also a favourite choice for excursions and charters around the Solent. She saw the homecoming of Sir Alec Rose after his single-handed circumnavigation of the world, and finally, in 1968, went to the Thames in 1968 to become an Edwardian Gin Palace for Gilbeys Gin, complete with Pearly Kings and Queens and jellied eels!
Since Sandown's withdrawal in 1965, the writing had been on the wall for the Solent's last paddle steamer, and on 14 August 1969 the Ryde made her final sailing to the Isle of Wight. At this point, it seemed her next destination would be the breakers' yard.
However, local entrepreneurs AH and CB Riddett stepped in at the eleventh hour, and in September 1970 took her to Island Harbour where she became one of the Isle of Wight's most popular nightclubs. But public tastes can be fickle; although she survived a serious fire in 1977 and was repaired, the nightclub's popularity waned and closure followed. By the mid 1990s, the Ryde lay derelict, ravaged by thieves and the elements.
Now, 60 years after her D-Day service, she has been examined and a full rebuild to incorporate all the modern maritime safety requirements is viable. with the ownership and formation of a society she could steam again and carry passengers on charters and excursions for many years to come.