Plans to dispose of historic paddle steamer in Truro could cost £200,000

The Compton Castle was built in 1914 and once served as a naval ammunition carrier during the Second World War.

Plans to break up an historic paddle steamer in Truro could cost £200,000.

The Compton Castle has been moored on the city's Lemon Quay for more than forty years, where it served as a floating museum and cafe.

But it has seen better days, with the steamer falling into disrepair and then sinking in May 2023, before being refloated and repaired.

A new report by the Harbours Board for a meeting at Cornwall Council found the vessel should either be "returned to a serviceable condition, agreeable to the harbour authority" or removed from the harbour.

The Board is now due to approve plans at a meeting on Thursday 14 March to dispose of the the Compton Castle. It's report found the steamer has deteriorated significantly, and had recently become home to rough sleepers.

The report stated: “In recent months the vessel has been broken into on numerous occasions and become home to rough sleepers. There are also reports of antisocial behaviour on-board – evidenced through inspections of the vessel.

“Disposal quotations from a waste contractor have been obtained. The vessel can be broken in its current position and the cost is expected to be £200,000. it is proposed to fund £100,000 from the Port of Truro Reserve and the remainder will be sought from match funding with Truro Town Deal Board to expedite the disposal.”

It added: “The rent account has been on hold since March 2023 and in September the lease for the shore infrastructure was terminated. We continue to negotiate a settlement for the outstanding debts on the customer’s account and the site has been secured.”

The area on Lemon Quay adjacent to the boat is the subject of Truro Town Deal investment and “the opportunity is available to work with the Town Deal to realise the site’s potential”.

A business case is being prepared but initial discussions with the board’s chairman have indicated support would be forthcoming to support Cornwall Harbours Board in the vessel’s disposal. This would reduce pressure on the Port of Truro reserve account, most of which is earmarked for other projects within the port.

History of the Compton Castle:

The Compton Castle was built in 1914 by Cox & Co of Falmouth for the River Dart Steamboat Company.

It was then requisitioned during the Second World War and used as a naval ammunition carrier on the River Dart.

In 1947, the vessel returned to peacetime sailings on the Dart, which continued until 1962. It was then sold to Baume & Woods of Kingsbridge two years later, who restored it and turned it into a teashop and museum. It then was permanently moored on Lemon Quay from the 1980s until present day.

  • Credit: Lee Trewhela, Local Democracy Reporting Service