Harry, Katie and Jenny from the Youth Council interviewed Ryan Watson and his mother Margaret about William Reid, a past family relation, who owned and operated the Worthing Belle before the outbreak of WW1.
The paddles steamer SS Worthing Belle operated a daily service from Brighton Pier to Worthing, Littlehampton and Bogner. It also transported passengers across the channel to France.
Transcript of interview about William Reid and The Worthing Belle Paddle Steamer
MARGARET: The paddle steamer that used to stop at Worthing pier to pick passengers up was owned by William Reid, who was the same generation and also a past relation, but on my nan’s side. Henry Haiden was on my grandad’s side, William Reid was on my nan’s side but of course at that time the families hadn’t come together by marriage so it was a total coincidence that one of my great, great grandfathers was pier master and the other owned the paddle steamer. So their paths had crossed all those years before…
KATIE: Where did the Reid family come from?
MARGARET: They were Scottish, that side of the family, the Reid’s. And they were farmers. I don’t know how he went from farming to owning a paddle steamer.
MARGARET: The Worthing Belle was built in 1885. In 1901 she was purchased in Shoreham and used to carry day trippers on short trips from Brighton West Pier, Westwards to Worthing, Littlehampton and Bognor. In 1909 she passed into the hands of Mr William Reid. He continued to operate the schedule, but with the addition of occasional cross-Channel trips to France weather permitting. In those days there were no restrictions on open floor deck vessel Channel crossings. In 1913 due to competition from other companies on the south coast he sold the ship to a Turkish company to run a ferry service across the Bosphorus Sea.
During the 1914-18 war the ship was hit on the 13th August 1915 by gunfire from ships of the combined allied fleets off the Dardanelles. However, she could not have been badly damaged, as she was beached and salvaged to resume ferrying after the war. The boat was finally withdrawn from service and scrapped in 1926.
A sketch of the Worthing Belle