Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Collapse of PS Ryde paddle steamer halts restoration

PS Ryde Image copyright Paul Coueslant
Image caption PS Ryde is currently lying on the banks of the River Medina

The last paddle steamer to carry passengers across The Solent could be permanently dismantled after it collapsed beyond repair.

Campaigners had hoped to restore the vessel which is gradually decaying on a river bank on the Isle of Wight.

Lisa-Marie Turner, who had been leading the restoration, said the ship's deterioration was beginning to cause environmental concerns.

She said: "We agreed that we needed to say goodbye and let her go."

PS Ryde sailed between Portsmouth and Ryde from 1937 to 1969 and was requisitioned by the Royal Navy during World War Two.

More than £5,000 was raised through crowdfunding to buy and restore it.

In a Facebook post, Ms Turner said an inspection in December revealed the ship's bridge collapsed and things were falling off "daily".

She said: "We were given the heart-wrenching choice of accepting that Ryde would not be removed the way we planned, and therefore dismantling would be the only viable option, or we (try) to remove her and therefore create further environmental issues."

She described the decision to give up as "heart-breaking" and added: "We want to assure you all, we fought till the end for her."

The post said remaining funds would go towards the upkeep of another paddle steamer - Medway Queen.

Image copyright IOW Film Archive
Image caption PS Ryde sailed between Portsmouth and Ryde from 1937 to 1969

Named in the National Historic Ships Register, PS Ryde was launched in April 1937 by the Southern Railway Co to work alongside PS Sandown between Ryde and Portsmouth.

It was renamed HMS Ryde during World War Two and became an anti-aircraft vessel during the D-Day landings.

It was also deployed as a minesweeper in the Thames Estuary and Dover Straits.

After being retired from the cross-Solent route, it became a floating hotel off the Isle of Wight in the 1970s and, despite being damaged by fire, became a nightclub in the 1980s.

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