Paddle Ship Hiburnia
The latest creation by Jim Thompson, master model maker, is now on display in Saltash museum.
Built in 1902 by Philip of Dartmouth. Length, 100ft. Beam 17ft. Low bow and stern with paddles aft of the funnel which was very large and upright. Small “hurricane” deck as bridge, never used by passengers. Steam steering gear. Recipro. Engines, inclined. Speed 11-12 knots but at times capable of more. Carried 366 passengers. The first boat to have electric lighting.
Hibernia was a regular site on the River Tamar, mainly being used for excursions. A popular trip was to Calstock to watch the railway viaduct being built.
During the Great War the Hibernia, along with the Devonia and Cornubia were requisitioned for Admiralty work. Hibernia served glamorously as a tender to the fleet in Scapa Flow. On return south she was sent to Cork as a ferry for the Southern Railway of Ireland after a bridge had been blown up in 'the troubles'. She got back to Millbrook eventually, but being a larger vessel with a passenger capacity of 360, was more used for excursions than ferrying. Devonia and Cornubia were returned from war service in poor condition and were disposed of.
Bernard Williams (formerly of the GWR General Manager's Office, Paddington) recalls the post-1918 years nostalgically: "There were two paddlers on the service, Hibernia and Britannia: at low tide they sailed only to Southdown, where they were met by some horse brakes which took one to the top of Whitsands Cliff for 6d. - Father always made us walk: One day, on a paddler approaching Southdown, the other paddler was just leaving and in manoeuvring to pass we ran hard on to the mud: fortunately the tide was on the turn and eventually, which much pushing on the pole and use of the engines, we got off as the tide made: this incident clear in my mind shows that the two paddlers were in service at the same time. The 'King-size' boathook-pole was always carried on the paddle boats and was used in turning them in restricted waters, such as at Weir Head".
Hibernia’s crew Hibernia at Morwellham Quay