As I drove onto the crunchy gravel car park of the swish, modern marina near Newport on the Isle of Wight, it occurred to me what an odd location this was for the beached, rusting paddle steamer PS Ryde. The futuristic harbour control centre, million pound yachts and motor cruisers seemed a world away from the 1930’s paddle steamer. Beached on a small creek on the wide River Medina, the long low hull and superstructure still look vaguely elegant, even though the rakish chimney collapsed 5 years ago, and now lies on the dock alongside her.
As I walked across the marina, a man carefully power washed the underside of his gleaming yacht, suspended from a boat lift, oblivious, ignorant, maybe of the rusting, fenced off hulk maybe only ten feet away from him. What a contrast it made, with patches of rust having eaten their way through the steel hull in places.
The Ryde has been moored here since 1970, when BR withdrew it from its regular Portsmouth to Ryde passenger service. Like several other old steam ships, it ended up as a nightclub, operating until the late 80’s. Since then it has seemingly been derelict and it’s condition has sadly deteriorated.
The current situation is unclear. There were plans to try to save her, but then demolition contractors moved in and cut a hole in the side to remove asbestos. Since then, nothing has happened, but I really can’t see a happy ending. What a shame.