Issue 120

April
1999

Mankind by itself is already enough justification for sadness. 

Menander 342 - 292 BC

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Back in Service

The Peninnis
This GIBSON photograph shows the "Peninnis" left and the RMS "Scillonian" alongside St.Mary's Quay, 1926
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Co.; Ltd's first ship, was originally the "Argus", a Fishery Protection Vessel and was purchased from the Admiralty Disposals for £8,000. She was 224 gross tons (88 tons nett) at a length of just 150ft. Following the necessary alterations at a cost of £5,000 she was renamed "PENINNIS" and came into service when the Company received its Certificate of Incorporation, giving the right to commence business (dated 27th March, 1920) 

During 1924 the Directors began considering the purchase of a larger ship and at an Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders on the 16th June, 1925, the Directors were empowered to place the order with Ailsa Shipbuilding Co.; Ltd. In order to keep their yard open during the slump this work was undertaken at cost, the contract price was £24,500. She was launched and named "SCILLONIAN" by Mrs. A.A. Dorrien-Smith on 17th November, 1925 and made her first trip to Scilly on the 25th January, 1926. At 429 gross tons she was considered, by some, as too big and unsuitable for our seas, however she proved to be a wonderful sea boat and a tremendous improvement.

The R.M.S "Scillonian" served the Islands in almost continual service for over 29 years (including the war years of 1939-1945, 40,000 troop movements being recorded) until replaced by R.M.V "Scillonian" II on 25th March 1955 at a cost of £250,000

Back in Service after £1,700,000 Refit

R.M.V. SCILLONIAN III was built by Appledore Shipbuilders Ltd. in 1977 and named by H.R.H. Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall on 17th May, 1977. Just as the arrival of Scillonian II from Thorneycrofts of Southampton had provided greater passenger comfort, so Scillonian III took this one stage further. Her through deck facilities bringing a feeling of spaciousness which belied her size.

On the arrival of Scillonian II in 1955 and Scillonian III in 1977 (just as was the case with the Scillonian in 1926) the critics were waiting with the same comments "too big, they will never hold her, not suitable or not as good a sea boat as the old boat" change is not accepted easily by some people.

The Scillonian III

The purchase of Scillonian III in 1977 presented the Company with great financial difficulties which were only resolved when the Government agreed to loan a large proportion of the money required. In 1998, faced with the exorbitant cost of building a new ship, the Company agreed a contract with D.M.L. of Devonport Dockyard to give Scillonican III a major refit to carry her into the New Millennium.

Scillonian III has been fully refurbished. The Buffet has been moved down one deck and the vacated space has been fitted with aircraft type reclining seats, as have all other lounge areas. The service area of the old Buffet has been extended and is now a walk in shop. The Bar has been refurbished and decorated in colours which give it a light airy appearance.
On deck you will notice the new wooden slat seating and it you look towards the funnel you will see the once familiar warn yellow is back again.

 
View from Ship The floor coverings have been replaced on all internal and external decks, and over 50 tons of steel has been used to increase the standard of the ship. The ship has also had 3 new generators and a new bow thruster fitted.
The cost of this extensive refit was £1.7 million, no small sum for a company providing a passenger service to a community of approximately 2,000 inhabitants.

I have good memories of trips on all three vessels, though I must say there was definitely a very intimate feeling about travel on a rough day aboard the R.M.S. Scillonian, those of you that have enjoyed(?) a trip during which she fought her own private battle with the full forces of the Atlantic Ocean will know what I mean, what she did not go over she went through, for she and her Captain were very seldom kept in port.

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