PS Ryde was commissioned by Southern Railway in 1936 as a sister ship for P.S Sandown. Costing £46,800 (equivalent to £2,770,000 in 2016) she was built by William Denny and Brothers in Dumbarton on Clydeside. After her launch on 23 April 1937 by Lady Walker, wife of Sir Herburt Walker, General Manager of the Southern Railway she replaced the P.S Duchess of Norfolk on the Portsmouth to Ryde Pier passenger ferry service.
In 1939 PS Ryde and PS Sandown were requisitioned by the Royal Navy. She was renamed HMS Ryde, and initially both were used as Minesweepers in the Dover Straits. After two years Ryde was converted to an anti-aircraft ship and served on the Thames Estuary and at Harwich. In May 1944 she traveled to Portsmouth, from where she sailed to the Normandy coast to take part in Operation Neptune on D-Day.
Reverting to her pre-war name on her return to Southern Railway on 7 July 1945 PS Ryde worked on her former route and undertook a variety of chartered trips. However, the nationalised British Railways began to commission more modern motor vessels and in September 1969 it was decided to retire her.
Avoiding the scrapyard, PS Ryde was bought by two Isle of Wight entrepreneurs, Alan Ridett (1936 - 2008) and his cousin Colin. In September 1970 she began a new career as a nightclub. Renamed the Ryde Queen, she replaced the smaller P.S Medway Queen in moorings at Binfield Marina on the River Medina near Newport. In 1977 she caught fire with damage estimated at £100,000 but she was repaired. However, by the late 1980s her popularity had waned and the nightclub was closed. She remained derelict and abandoned on her mooring, gradually deteriorating. In August 2006 her funnel collapsed and she is now possibly beyond repair.
In September 2009 it was announced that enthusiasts were attempting to raise funds to buy the steamer, held by receivers after her former owner, Island Harbour Holdings LTD, went into administration. A non-profit company, PS Ryde Trust, wished to restore the vessel to once again be in the condition to sail tourists across the Solent. It was estimated that £7 million would be needed for the restoration, with fundraising needs of £1,000 a month for mooring fees and £600,000 for the move to a dry dock, with the remainder of the funding coming from the National Lottery .In early 2010, work began to dismantle the vessel, beginning with asbestos removal .In 2012, the ship's bridge collapsed. The PS Ryde Trust failed to negotiate a deal to save the vessel and the PS Ryde was left to continue to deteriorate.
An application was made to the Isle of Wight Council Planning Department on 11 June 2014 by the new owners of Island Harbour Marina for permission to retain the PS Ryde on site for a further three years. This is to allow time to evaluate and find the funding necessary to try and save her. The application was approved by the Council on 5 August 2014, guaranteeing her continued existence for at least another three years. The planning permission granted for the redevelopment of the marina states that Ryde must be removed within three years of work commencing. She must be removed by November 2017.
As of 2018 P.S Ryde still resides at Island Harbour Marina and is in the process of future protection by the trust,
At present Island Harbour and our Director Lisa-Marie Turner are in current talks and preserving this historic Solent paddle steamer , we hope that we can update this with good news soon.
watch this space :-)