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All you need to know about the "world's last sea-going paddle steamer"  : her specifications, her remarkable history and how to get the best out of sailing on her

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Above: Waverley at Ilfracombe, Devon on 7th June 2009. Photo by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte

Waverley is owned by a small heritage and educational charity and relies on financial donations and volunteer work from its supporters to survive. In order to provide a full-time and (almost) daily service in the sailing season, bridge, deck and catering crew are employed.  A small full-time office staff is contracted throughout the year.

If you are not familiar with taking a trip on Waverley, please look at the "Waverley Booking and Sailing Information" section further down this page and this will help you get the best out of any trip and answer many questions or concerns you might have. A trip on Waverley is normally a very enjoyable experience, but certain issues have caused a minority of passengers to be disappointed, especially on those days when the ship can be very crowded. It does help to know what to expect and when it might be best to sail.  Click here to go directly.

Please note that this is unofficial information provided by the webmaster based on extensive travel on Waverley and research into her specifications and history. Any opinions given are those of the webmaster alone. The webmaster has no connections with Waverley Excursions Ltd, but is a member of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. You are directed towards the Waverley Excursions website for official information and facts regarding the ship.
Also on this page you can look around the ship with the webmaster's photos and get a feel for a cruise by following three from the 2013 season.



Dimensions : 239 ft 11 in (73.13 m)  long - 57 ft 3 in (17.45 m) maximum breadth - currently around 6 ft 3 in draught (1.91 m)
Engines :  Three crank triple expansion : 24, 39 and 62 inches x 66 inches - by Rankin & Blackmore, Greenock
Fuel : Originally coal-burning, she was converted in 1957 to consume fuel oil. .
Boilers : 1947 - Double-ended Scotch type
(now preserved at the Scottish Maritime Museum at Irvine). 1981 - Babcock Steambloc. 2000 - 2x Cochran Thermax
Speed : On trial she managed 18.37 knots but is limited to 16 by her certification. Normal service speeds generally do not exceed 14 knots
Fuel consumption is around 0.7 tonnes (755 litres) per hour of medium fuel oil at an average 14 knots
693 Gross Registered Tonnes
Passenger capacity (2014) : maximum 860 (Class V), 800 (Class IV) or 740 (Class III) - i.e. depending on which category of waters she is sailing in
Note : In 1947 her passenger certificate allowed 1350 passengers and until 2013 was 925 in her most protected sailing areas
Crewing  (2014) : MCA certification requires a minimum of 19 crew (or 15 if sailing with restricted passenger numbers in Class IV/V waters)
Port of Registry : Glasgow.  IMO Number : 5386954.   Official number : 169494


Launched 2/10/1946 at builders A&J Inglis, Pointhouse, Glasgow, UK (now the site of the Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport)
Entered service in 1947 primarily for the
London & North Eastern Railway's Craigendoran (railhead) service to Arrochar at the head of Loch Long
Originally a lifeline service for a remote community, the route had become associated with the Three Lochs Tour - a popular tourist excursion including Loch Lomond
After railway nationalisation in 1948, transferred to British Transport Commission ownership
Transferred in 1951 to the
Caledonian Steam Packet Co, former pre-nationalisation rivals of the LNER and the name adopted for the consolidated fleet.
Reboilered in time for the 1957 season with oil replacing coal as fuel.
Radar fitted in 1960.
Cruised to all parts of the Clyde Estuary until withdrawn after the 1973 season by
Sold in 1974 to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS) forefronted by Douglas McGowan and Terry Sylvester for a token 1 fee
Re-entered service in 1975, owned by Waverley Steam Navigation Co on behalf of PSPS
On 28/4/77, left the Clyde for the first time to cruise from Liverpool and Llandudno as it was believed that she needed to sail beyond the Clyde to survive
Faced an uncertain future after running aground on the Gantocks off Dunoon on 15/7/77 and losing six weeks worth of vital revenue
Sailings extended to the south of the UK in 1978, setting the pattern for future operation
Cruised to Cap Griz Nez off the French coast on 12/5/80 for 40th anniversary of Dunkirk evacuation - where the LNER lost her predecessor "Waverley" (of 1899) 
A new boiler in 1981 improved operational and economic performance
The 1981 cruise programme involved circumnavigating Great Britain for the first time
Sailed to Dunkirk in 1990 for the 50th anniversary remembrance
In 1998 was awarded Heritage Lottery Fund partnership funding for a comprehensive rebuilding which involved much new materials and new (twin) boilers
Changes to safety legislation delayed the rebuild and Waverley sailed as normal in 1999
Rebuild contract awarded to George Prior Engineering of Great Yarmouth. Work commenced in earnest in January 2000.
Cost escalation meant that the whole ship could not be attended to at this stage.
Waverley reappeared for the late summer season in 2000 greatly improved but restored wherever possible to 1947 appearance as required by the funding agency.
Work included much new hull plating (included riveted plates above the waterline for historical accuracy) and some renewal of frame elements, plus new sponsons.
Wood-grain effect replaced the white paint on the deckhouses
and new funnels fitted (correcting the unequal rake present since the 1960s).
Returned to George Prior Engineering in the winter of 2002-03 for the completion of the rebuilding programme (mainly the forward part of the ship).
Expensive repairs and lost sailing time in 2011 led to a national appeal to "Save the Waverley" and a rescuing donation from Euromillions lottery winners, the Weirs



First, a few common historical mis-perceptions:

Dunkirk :
This Waverley was built shortly after the end of the Second World War and was therefore not at the Dunkirk evacuations. Two paddle steamers named Waverley (one renamed Snaefell for wartime purposes) were at Dunkirk. Waverley was lost during the operation whilst "Snaefell" survived, only to be sunk later in the war. Strictly speaking, this Waverley did not replace the Waverley sunk at Dunkirk, although she was built for the same owners, as the company had already decommissioned the old Waverley without replacement prior to the outbreak of war. The new ship was needed, however, as another member of the fleet, Marmion, was sunk later in the war.

Waverley around Britain : This Waverley remained on the Clyde and never visited other parts of the UK coastline until 1977. Since then she has made short visits to other areas (particularly those where there were once local paddle steamers) outside of her main Scottish summer season.
Many people remember paddle steamers on the Bristol Channel. The era ended in 1967 when Campbell's two remaining paddlers, Bristol Queen and Cardiff Queen were withdrawn. Both, but Cardiff Queen in particular, bore a reasonable resemblance to the Clyde's Waverley, being contemporaries and the latter built at the nearby Glasgow shipyard, Fairfield's. Waverley first visited the Bristol Channel in 1979.

Sea-Going : Waverley was not built to be and never originally was a "sea-going" paddle steamer, but the outer parts of the Firth of Clyde estuary (rarely visited in her commercial days) might be regarded as coastal cruising waters. Historically, paddle steamers made coastal excursions in several parts of the UK, sometimes in quite rough seas. Waverley now replicates some of these when conditions permit and her Class III certificate allows her to sail up to 18 miles from the coast and 70 miles from her point of departure (between April 1st and October 31st only). She also makes other voyages to position herself around the UK coast, albeit now without passengers for these movements.
Whilst a number of paddle steamers survive around the world, they are to be found on lakes and rivers and on the latter do not offer  "sea" voyages to passengers. Waverley is marketed as the "last sea going paddle steamer in the world"

Above: Waverley off Girvan with Ailsa Craig in the background - half way between Glasgow and Northern Ireland and much further downstream of her Craigendoran base than she would normally be found in her days with the Caledonian. Photo courtesy of Kenny Whyte

Overview : Waverley is based in Glasgow and in high summer offers a range of cruises on the Firth of Clyde into areas of magnificent natural beauty and calling at resorts such as Dunoon, Rothesay, Largs and Brodick (click here to see photos of this attractive area). She also spends parts of the year sailing in areas which, many years ago, lost their own paddle steamers, such as the Bristol Channel, the south coast of the UK and the Thames estuary, to provide cruises for local enthusiasts and interested members of the public in these areas. Since 1974 she has been owned by a registered charity (Waverley Steam Navigation Company) on behalf of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS, itself a charity, click here for more details) and operated by Waverley Excursions Ltd, a subsidiary of WSN. Home base is Pacific Quay, Glasgow, adjacent to the Science Centre and BBC Scotland offices - with an administrative office on the opposite north bank of the Clyde at Lancefield Quay.

She is marketed as the "World's Last Sea-Going Paddle Steamer" to the extent that some of her cruises now see her venture out of protected estuarine waters and visits to other sailing areas often involve journeys across open seas. However, she was not originally intended to be so and it was not until 1977 that she first left the relatively calm waters of her native Firth of Clyde in search of out-of-season business. A number of historical paddle steamers survive on lakes and rivers particularly in Europe, but also in the case of smaller vessels, Australia. Waverley represents the very final years of paddle steamer production, built as such for certain reasons but already obsolete at the time. In recent years there have been paddlers built, mainly for nostalgic reasons, but these have, with limited exceptions, been powered by modern diesel engines

She takes her name from the series of novels written by Sir Walter Scott, names from which were widely used by one of the companies operating on the Clyde. There were a number of other paddle steamers named Waverley operating in the UK, although none during the lifetime of this version of Waverley. See the section near the foot of this page for more details.

Waverley Tower Bridge 1988.jpg

An unexpected visitor : Waverley passes through Tower Bridge during a cruise from London in 1988. Even if some optimists had hoped that Waverley would sail on after 1973, nobody could surely have imagined that a visit to London for a short end-of-season cruise programme would become a regular annual occurence.  Waverley continues to visit London as well as the south coast of England and the Bristol Channel to this day.

Origins : She was built in 1946/7 for the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and primarily intended for the route from their railhead at Craigendoran to Arrochar at the head of Loch Long, to replace the vessel Marmion which had been sunk on war duty. Historically the route had provided a lifeline for what was once an isolated community, but with roads now having been built, it was more important as one leg of the highly-popular "Three Lochs Tour" which involved a return cruise on Loch Lomond, with associated bus and rail connections. Waverley was in reality too large for her intended role - but in the LNER's post-war haste to make good wartime losses (which also included an earlier Waverley which had been laid up prior to the war before being reactivated and meeting her end at the Dunkirk evacuations) and in a general environment of optimism, this was not immediately apparent. Water levels at Craigendoran made using a paddle steamer the only practicable option and well-tried technology was the quick, cheap and easy solution, so plans used for steamers in the 1930s building boom were dusted down  ........ 

Above : Even in the late 1960s there were plenty of vessels at Craigendoran (above) as well as the main base at Gourock. Waverley is at the inner face of the western pier arm as another vessel (probably paddle steamer Caledonia) pulls in to the former LNER railhead. On the right is one of the four "Maids" dating from 1953 : motor vessels and much smaller than the paddlers, but an early indication that the days of the large old steamers were numbered.....However, even the passenger-only Maids had little time left by this time. Photo by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte 

A state-subsidised service :  In the post war era, Waverley's state-owned operators (the British Transport Commission and then the Caledonian Steam Packet Company) who assumed control of the ships after railway nationalisation in 1948, continued to provide an extensive network of services on the Clyde. Waverley, as part of a now-consolidated fleet, took on a wide range of services as required. Most services were not profitable, but the shipping fleets had always been cross-subsidised by their railway company parents, for whom their services were an essential extension, and now they continued with the help of government subsidy. It should be remembered that the Clyde paddle steamers were ferries first and foremost, with day excursions a popular add-on for ships outside the main morning and evening peak. There remained a degree of commuting from the Clyde resorts during the summer months and much business comprised families going to and coming from the resorts in connection with their summer vacation.  Older ships were withdrawn as newer and smaller motor vessels came in to try and limit spiralling costs, but fleet numbers fell as the years progressed with the Clyde coast gradually losing its allure as the summer vacation destination of choice. By the early 1970s, with the the conversion of most Clyde services to car-ferry operation and with the role of a passenger-only ship in sharp decline, the last operational paddle steamer on the Clyde also seemed destined for the ship-breakers. 

Above: Waverley in her final year with Queen Mary II behind too many large passenger-only ships, and it was Waverley which had to go. 
Photo by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte

Cheating the breakers' yard : The paddler Caledonia (withdrawn in 1969) was rescued from the breakers and found a new life as a restaurant ship in London, but the turbine steamer Duchess of Hamilton (disposed of in 1971) had been scrapped as a Glasgow restaurant plan fell through. There seemed little chance for Waverley - but as the last paddler of the line, few wanted to see her lost entirely. Only at the end of the 1973 season was it announced that she had been withdrawn. No fanfare and no chance for those concerned to protest. Fait accompli, it seemed. Remarkably, in 1974, she was taken over by an enthusiasts' group in a deal which was sealed by the purchase of the ship for a 1 note donated by her owners, by that time known as Caledonian-MacBrayne, for the purpose. "Cal-Mac" for their part had avoided the likely public relations backlash from scrapping the last of the long line of the Clyde's much-loved paddlers. Enthusiasts were handed a job which seemed herculean. A return to service appeared unrealistic, but just in case, the sales covenant restricted Waverley's routes to avoid competition with Cal-Mac's surviving excursion steamer Queen Mary. The unexpected was attempted and whilst Queen Mary struggled on only until 1977, Waverley sailed on. 

Above: A new lease of life : Waverley's decks are packed on her first day "in preservation" in 1975. Photo by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte

Enthusiast-owned and supported and now a charity in the heritage sector : One of the charitable objects of the PSPS is to bring the opportunity to sail on a paddle steamer to as many people as possible and it also makes financial sense for the ship to visit different regional markets where good business might be expected. The excellent passenger numbers achieved outside the Clyde from 1977 onwards were definitely the difference between success and financial failure. Waverley had to stand or fall on her own account alone.

Operating a large historical steamship such as Waverley is an extremely expensive undertaking. Fares, whilst expensive especially for short journeys, are not out of line with most other equivalent attractions in the heritage sector. The ship's crew (who live aboard the vessel throughout the sailing season) and staff at the operating company, Waverley Excursions, are paid employees but much other work (such as winter maintenance) is done by volunteers. 

The owners have set an exemplary standard in maintaining the elderly vessel. When she was taken over in 1974 she was in a poor state with poor reliability and severe boiler problems. Nowadays what became a  rather down at heel vessel now presents herself in an exemplary way and over the years many changes have been made to her configuration to improve her performance and her passenger and crew spaces.

Whilst the company tries to cover as much of its enormous cost base as possible through fares, without dedicated volunteers and donations from her many supporters the ship would not survive. On a number of occasions, major appeals for funds have had to be made, the latest being in 2011/12 following a run of poor weather and particularly expensive repair bills. A major donation by Euromillions winners Chris and Colin Weir of Largs can be said to have saved Waverley.  The costs and problems involved in running a ship such as Waverley, especially with the modern regulatory environment mean that the ship will not escape a hand-to-mouth existence. Although Waverley's original client base, those who remembered paddle steamers in their heyday, is now dwindling rapidly in numbers, interest in "heritage" matters is greater than ever and the demand for "boat trips" for their own sake is probably just as high now as it ever was. Waverley provides a popular sailing opportunity different to any other in the UK and has developed her own fan base all around the country.

Supporting Waverley :  You can give Waverley additional financial support by becoming a member of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, the ship's beneficial owners (see PSPS website. Membership leaflets are also normally available aboard the ship), or as an Associate Member of the Friends of Waverley (see the Waverley Excursions website for details). Donations (which qualify for UK Gift Aid if applicable) can be made securely through the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society website whether you are a Society member or not :

Volunteers are able to work aboard the ship over the winter whilst she is moored at Glasgow. As well as established trades such as elecrtical, joinery and engineering, other unskilled help is welcomed for cleaning, painting etc.  See the Waverley Excursions website for details


Step aboard Waverley.JPG

To step aboard Waverley and go into the deck saloons and below deck, where you can see the restaurant, the bar, the souvenir kiosk and the steam engines.....

Click here

What's it like to be on a Waverley cruise ?

Join three cruises from the 2013 season

Clevedon and Penarth to Minehead on June 5th

Helensburgh to Tighnabruaich on July 20th

Largs to Campbeltown on July 21st


Go to  for the Waverley Excursions Ltd website for official information, timetables and on-line booking.
There is also an official Facebook page and Twitter feed - follow the link from the website

Whilst the website has a "FAQ" page and a "Useful Tips" page with important information which you are recommended to read prior to purchasing tickets, the following independent hints might be useful for intending travellers based on the webmaster's knowledge and experience of Waverley. You are also bound by the Conditions  of Carriage which are posted on the website and also available from Waverley Excursions.  

Timetable : Basic Timetables and the more comprehensive "Sailing Brochures" for all regional sailings can be downloaded from the Waverley Excursions website once available and are also sent to PSPS members and people on the operator's mailing list. You can register for news and timetables on the Waverley Excursions website. Brochures are distributed to local tourist offices in sailing areas as far as is practicable within the organisation's resources and the work of volunteers. 

Cruise Length :  Waverley offers full-day cruises, but there are normally intermediate calling points where you can start and end your cruise to make for a shorter day.You can stay aboard for the day or get off at a calling point en-route and catch the ship home on her return

Although Waverley is based at Glasgow, she normally only sails from there on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the main summer season.  On Sundays a range of cruises are offered to further-flung parts of the Firth making this a very long day. Most cruises can be joined at mainland piers closer to the Firth (Greenock, Helensburgh and Largs depending on the route for the day concerned), and in midweek, cruises commence at Ayr, Largs and Greenock, making for a shorter day.
Largs pier, Greenock Custom House Quay and Helensburgh pier are only a short walk from Scotrail stations. Ayr harbour is a slightly longer walk from Ayr station.

When Waverley is away from the Clyde a variety of "one-off" cruises are offered in the short time she has in each area in an attempt to offer as much variety as possible from the available piers. Again these tend to be long days, but shorter if boarding at intermediate piers.

Buying Tickets : You can normally buy tickets on board once you have set sail. You can also book in advance on-line on the website or by phone and this is advisable to avoid disappointment especially on weekends when good weather is expected and on special cruises. Waverley's short season on the South Coast and Thames make her very popular on the days she is in the area. There may be occasions when those not pre-booked have to be turned away as capacity is limited by the terms of her operating certificate.

The ship's financial control systems require hard-copy tickets. These are mailed from Glasgow HQ to pre-booked customers (if there is time ..... see WEL website for details) or made available for collection at the purser's office on board otherwise.

Checking and collection of tickets : Tickets are collected on disembarkation as under the present financial control system it is essential to do it this way. It is not possible to check tickets on boarding the ship only because in most instances intending passengers are free to board without tickets and obtain them once aboard. Unfortunately this means that tickets cannot be retained as souvenirs of the trip

Prices : Prices are shown in the Sailing brochures and on the on-line booking system. Public prices are not normally discounted although the operators have, on very rare occasions, used "groupon" type schemes to sell a limited number of tickets valid for use normally outside the peak Saturdays to encourage potential new customers. 

Vouchers for cruises are available for purchase in advance of the season (typically by March 31st) by members of the Friends of Waverley scheme and give potentially significant discounts, but are not refundable and expire at the end of the sailing season concerned.

Whilst Waverley cannot get close to financial breakeven on ticket revenues alone, the profit from catering, bar and shop sales goes some way to plug the gap. Local authority grants and donations (private and corporate) also help and in recent years Waverley has been operating at close to breakeven. However there are other one-off expenditures relating to the fabric of the vessel which are over and above this and these can be substantial. Grants from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society and from periodic charitable appeals have helped to ensure that structural work both essential and desirable have been able to be undertaken.    

Season Tickets : Regional season tickets are available for purchase by customers who are or become members of the Friends of Waverley scheme. See the Waverley website for details

Sea conditions and service cancellations / itinerary changes : Sailings are subject to suitable wind and sea conditions and suitable forecasts for the period of the cruise. The ship's operators have strict guidelines regarding sailing in certain conditions which could lead to cancellation, curtailment or alteration of advertised cruises. These relate to safety and comfort aboard and on docking/passenger transfer as well as the potential safety of the ship itself. "Bad weather" in itself is not normally a reason for cruises to be cancelled.  

The Firth of Clyde is a well protected area and the occurence of enforced cancellations is normally very low, but other more exposed areas (such as North Wales and the Bristol Channel) can pose greater problems, especially as they are visited outside the main summer season. Away from the Clyde, piers are more tidal and many can only be visited within certain time windows, so any delay in the cruise could in extreme cases lead to the ship not reaching the next pier in suitable tidal conditions. Some piers have specific issues such as the silting up of the pier area at Bournemouth which is leading to unplanned cancellations when there is a significant swell.

Phone and on line booking secures your ticket and lets the operators know your contact details so they can send you alerts if there is any problem with the sailing, such as impossible weather conditions or mechanical breakdown. However, the decision to call off a cruise or a pier call can be made at extremely short notice and in such cases it is impossible for the small office staff to contact everybody in this way. Sailing status updates are normally posted on the rolling newsbar on the Waverley Excursions website homepage, but recent experience has shown that this is not done on their Facebook or Twitter pages. The company tries to offer an alternative cruise in more protected waters if at all possible in cases where the planned itinerary cannot be followed.

If Waverley is unable to call at any pier at short notice for any reason, they do try to arrange coaches to allow waiting passengers to board at another pier, but this is not always possible. Waverley has no "shore" operation at the piers she visits, so the passing-on of information about programme disruptions can sometimes be an issue, away from the Clyde in particular. 

Refunds : If you contact the Waverley HQ in advance of a booked cruise you cannot go on, they will transfer the tickets to another cruise for you or issue credit against a future cruise, but not issue a refund - see the FAQ page on the website for instructions.

If a cruise does go ahead and you are offered a coach connection, you will not get a refund or credit, whether you take up the offer or not.  

Refunds (or use of tickets on another cruise) are offered if a cruise is cancelled outright. In the case of refunds, unused tickets for the cancelled cruise must be returned to the Glasgow office for cancellation (please see the WEL website for exact details of the cancellation/refund policy). It is the only way to ensure tickets are cancelled whilst the current manual ticketing system is in force because of the policy that tickets can be transferred to later sailings. Whilst this can be a hassle, it does give the flexibility of transfer or refund - unlike for example, theatre bookings which are usually not refunded for any reason. 

Passenger Capacity Limitation & Safety :  Safety is of paramount importance.   The ship's safety management system is audited regularly and compliance with national guidelines is a condition  for the issuing of a sailing certificate by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), the competent statutory authority in this field.

Although Waverley may appear crowded at times, passenger numbers never exceed her stated capacity as described on her official passenger certificate (displayed on the main deck). Passsenger and crew numbers are established with regard to safe evacuation procedures. The purser has, at all times, full information on the number of passengers aboard and embarking, including those without tickets and intending to pay aboard as numbers are recorded at the gangway by click-counter. If the capacity has been met, unfortunately passengers without a booking cannot be allowed aboard. 

Life-saving equipment is available for all, including numerous inflatable rafts which have replaced the traditional lifeboats. Two such boats do remain aboard - on the bridge deck, retaining historical authenticity, but not in a place where they block passengers' views as those originally on the observation deck aft certainly did.

Covered Accommodation & seating : Licenced to carry up to 860 people in the most protected of waters and 740 in outer estuarine areas, there is seating for all. However, Waverley only has around 300 indoor seats spread around the bar, the lower bar and the fore and aft deckhouses. There are around 100 more in the restaurant which should not normally be used unless eating from the servery. It can become pretty crowded when the rain falls outside and can become standing room only. Conversely it can become standing room only on the decks when the sun shines. On the majority of her cruises, Waverley has more than enough  accommodation, but on weekends especially much of her capacity, indoor and out, is filled and Waverley can become uncomfortably full.  Outdoor seating is on varnished wooden-slatted bench seating, many of which also act as buoyancy rafts if required.

Saturday Sailings : It should be pointed out that the Glasgow to Rothesay run on summer Saturdays often attracts a number of patrons determined to have a "good day out" on board the ship and at the Bute resort - remnants of a local tradition dating back almost to the beginning of the steamboat era when a trip on a steamer meant that the then highly restrictive licensing laws could be evaded. Such cruises can be very crowded and very noisy in the bar area in particular and have sometimes been dubbed a "booze cruise" by critics. On occasion, police have been called to deal with and eject unruly intoxicated passengers. There is often a live band playing in the bar for part of the day. There have been reports of "noisy" crowds at times on Saturdays elsewhere around the UK 

Those wishing for a quieter experience should choose a midweek sailing or Sunday sailing if at all possible. On midweeks the ship is likely to be much less full. However, when she comes to areas like the Thames she has been busy in midweeks due to her only offering a short programme in the area.  

Internal Styling and comfort : The design and decor of  internal lounges might seem out of touch with modern styles, but it was a condition of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant, which allowed her last (and essential) major strip-down and refitting to proceed, that she be restored to a close approximation of her 1947 appearance. Normally sailing on a much shorter route than nowadays, she was never intended as a luxury vessel (although the limited number of booked diners did receive a good quality silver-service lunch and tea), but comfortable enough for the standards and passenger expectations of the day, when post-war austerity prevailed.
Most of the Clyde trips Waverley now replicates were the preserve of the larger turbine steamers of the fleet where capacity and comfort was somewhat greater.
Click here to have a look around Waverley

Food & Drink : There is a restaurant aboard serving hot breakfasts, lunches and teas at the appropriate time of day. It is simple, hearty fare from the ship's galley - canteen style, with a limited choice of dishes, prepared and served by crew members as is the practice in the merchant navy. Please remember that a Waverley cruise is not a "dining cruise" as such and facilities aboard ship for meal preparation are limited in comparison with a specialist restaurant.  The restaurant can only accommodate 100 guests - at a squeeze, so those using the facilities should not linger. A place reservation system has been inaugurated which guarantees a place during busy cruises and can be booked (and paid for, with booking fee) in advance or earlier during the cruise. Prices are not cheap but benchmarked with many "tourist attractions" and catering is one way that the ship can generate some much-needed additional funds to survive. See more - including downloadable menus from the Waverley website.  The bar is also quite expensive, at least compared with standard public houses, but generally in line with many "attractions". Tea, coffee, soft drinks and snacks such as crisps, soup and sandwiches are also available (including from the tearoom in the after deckhouse on the promenade deck, behind the funnels). A range of confectionery is available at the Souvenir Shop.
Passengers can take packed lunches and soft drinks (but no alcohol) aboard, but these are not permitted to be consumed within the restaurant. Smoking is allowed outside on deck but smokers are asked to stand "downwind" of the main passenger areas for the comfort of other passengers.

On-board payments : You can pay for your tickets on board using cards, but the restaurant, bar and shop only accept cash. I am not sure why this is but assume it is to limit the costs to the charity as bak charges can quickly eat into revenues. There are also occasions, particularly in Scotland, when Waverley is out of communication range for payment terminals to obtain authorisation for card payments. 

Engines : The massive steam engines are open to public view from the main deck gallery and are certain to impress anyone whether technically-minded or not.

Accessibility : The crew will be happy to assist disabled people to get aboard. A disabled toilet is available on the promenade deck. The main, lower and observation decks are only accessible by steep steps. For more details see the Waverley Excursions website FAQ Page.

Dogs : Dogs are not allowed on Waverley cruises (with the exception of Guide Dogs)

Customer Service : Whilst the overall responsibility of the ship's captain, the Purser is charged with all matters of customer service. Please note that whilst the officers are British the deck and catering crew are not and for them English is not their usual language. In recent years, crew have originated from Poland and Lithuania and whilst providing an excellent maritime service at a cost acceptable to the company, their role in answering customer questions etc etc is necessarily limited.

Commentaries : There are often highly informative commentaries on Waverley cruises with interesting and often little-known facts regarding the surrounding scenery and its history. Due to the varying itineraries, these are not pre-recorded, but rely on the availability of a local expert, usually a volunteer from the local branch of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. Not all cruises benefit from such availability  

What is it like to be on Waverley ? : Scroll back up to go to the "Go aboard ..... and look around" section of this web page and follow the links for illustrative photos and notes from a range of excursions

The Ship Managers' View : Waverley Excursions' Chief Executive Kathleen O'Neill was interviewed during the 2014 season for the website of the Clyde River Steamer Club, a "Clyde Steamer" enthusiasts' group and it gives a fascinating insight into the issues involved in managing Waverley. 
Click here :

More detailed information about Waverley's operations : Detailed reports by Waverley management (including financial information) are published in Paddle Wheels, the quarterly journal of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (the ship's beneficial owners), which is sent free to members. The magazine includes information about paddle steamers worldwide but also has detailed reports of Waverley's day-to-day cruises provided by a PSPS officer. Members of the Friends of Waverley Scheme receive a periodical e-mail magazine The Funnel, published by the ship's "management".

Where is Waverley just now ?  :
Click here : and enter Waverley where it says "Go To Vessel" or here



Waverley 1947 Alan Brown and GF.jpg

Waverley's first season - 1947 and also her last under LNER ownership.  Waverley now sails in almost exactly the same livery with these colours chosen by Waverley Steam Navigation Company to reflect her history and continue memories of a much-loved fleet.
Photo by Alan Brown, shown by kind courtesy of Gillon Ferguson.


Waverley heads down Firth from Gourock in April 1969, This was the last season when the Clyde had more than one paddle steamer. Caledonia was paid off as the decade drew to a close.   

Click here for more of Waverley in her CSP days


Following the merging of the Caledonian Steam Packet Company and David MacBrayne, Waverley sailed for one season (1973) in new colours. It was a problematic season and the costly and unreliable paddler was paid off by the state-controlled company after only one summer. The company retained two older passenger turbine steamers - Queen Mary for work on the Clyde and King George V for excursions out of Oban - for the time being. Photo by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte.  

Click here for more of Waverley apparently ending her career in Cal-Mac colours


Although most people thought her life owned by preservationists acting in the interests of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society would be short, that was far from the truth and she embarked on the most remarkable stage of her career, surpassing everything she had done before.

 Waverley Rothesay 1975 KW,jpg.jpg

An unexpected survivor : Waverley leaving Rothesay in the wake of Queen Mary II in 1975, her first season back after leaving the Cal-Mac fleet. Photo by Kenny Whyte.    Page down for more photos of her under the ownership of Waverley Steam Navigation Company (1975-date)

Gordon Stewart has photographed Waverley on a number of occasions over the years for the photo archive :

1975 : At Glasgow
1987 : At Newport

1988 : At Penarth, Bristol and Portishead
1988 : At London
1989 : At Largs, Brodick and Dunoon
1992 : At Penarth, Lynmouth (for ferry to the shore) and Ilfracombe
1993 : At Helensburgh, Millport and Tighnabruaich
1994 : At Penarth and Ilfracombe
1996 : At Minehead and Penarth
1997 : At Newport and Ilfracombe
1998 : At Minehead
1998 : At Helensburgh, Largs and Tighnabruaich
1999 : At Newport and Ilfracombe
2000 : At Greenock
2001 : At Penarth and Clevedon and cruising Steep & Flat Holm, plus extensive on-board photography
2002 : At Newport and Ilfracombe
2003 : At Lochranza
2004 : At Penarth and Ilfracombe
2004 : At Tarbert and Largs
2005 : At Ayr and Blairmore
2009 : At Penarth and aboard for a cruise around the Holm Islands

Photos and series below are by Gordon Stewart unless otherwise acknowledged

WAVERLEY IN THE 1990s by Phil Barnes, featuring in particular the south of England

As well as the Firth of Clyde, Waverley affords the opportunity to see various parts of the UK coastline which were once familiar to paddle steamer customers. Here Waverley approaches Swanage pier with the limestone cliffs of this part of the south coast providing a magnificent backdrop. This photo dates from 1996 and was taken by Phil Barnes.  Click here for more of Waverley at Swanage

South Coast : 1990 to 1993 by Phil Barnes

Weymouth : 4th September 1994 by Phil Barnes
London : 6th October 1994 by Phil Barnes
Ayr : 11th August 1999 by Phil Barnes


Waverley Portsmouth 2011 KW.jpg

Above : Waverley enters Portmouth harbour in 2011 in a photo kindly supplied by Kenny Whyte
Waverley's financial problems have left many wondering whether, if the paddler survives, she will still visit places such as the south coast of the UK. It is, however, a lucrative market and there is a view that she would be best served spending more time here. Click here for more from 2011 

Cruise from Penarth to Minehead, photos at Minehead and Penarth 13 06 11
Cruise from Largs to Rothesay and Greenock on 11 07 11


Waverley leaves Tarbert for a short cruise towards Skipness.  Click here for more of Waverley at Tarbert 
A range of 2012 photos kindly supplied by Kenny Whyte :

Waverley's pre-season preparations at Greenock
Highlights of the early part of her 2012 Scottish season including the Western Isles
PSPS/CRSC charter of Waverley and The Second Snark to Ormidale on July 8th 2012
Waverley meeting Cunard's Queen Elizabeth at Greenock on August 2nd 2012
Waverley passing MV Isle of Arran at Ardrossan and calling at Girvan


The classic view of any Clyde steamer ..... Tied up at Tighnabruaich on the Kyles of Bute at "half-time" on the popular Saturday run from Glasgow

Photo report of the opening Bristol Channel cruise from Clevedon and Penarth to Minehead on June 5th
Photo report of her sailing from Helensburgh to Tighnabruaich on July 20th

Photo report of her sailing from Largs to Campbeltown on July 21st
A selection of photos from her Clyde summer season by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte


See why Waverley began making calls again at this long-abandoned Clyde pier (above, in a photo by Kenny Whyte) and see how she sailed to Liverpool - but was unable to tie up at Llandudno despite a close approach ............ and more. Click here

With photographs of Waverley now available in enormous numbers on social media sites, will not be publishing photos of Waverley from 2015 onwards unless for important historical illustrative purposes


Firth of Clyde - 2013

South Coast and Thames Estuary - 2013

Bristol Channel - 2013

Firth of Clyde and Western Isles - 2014 (issue dated 9th April 2014)

Liverpool and area - 2014      Bristol Channel - 2014   South Coast and Thames Estuary - 2014

Scotland 2015          Liverpool & N Wales 2015     Bristol Channel 2015     South Coast 2015      Thames 2015

 WAVERLEY : WHAT'S IN A NAME ....... and not to be confused with other paddle steamers of the same name

Waverley derives her name from the novel written by Sir Walter Scott and published in 1814. A number of subsequent novels, originally written anonymously, became known as the Waverley novels as they were originally accredited to the writer of "Waverley". Book titles and characters from these books were adopted as names for ships built for the North British Railway Company's Clyde services (operated by the North British Steam Packet Company), beginning in 1866 with "Meg Merrilies" and "Dandie Dinmont", both characters in the second Waverley novel, Guy Mannering (which also became a ship's name in the NB fleet). 

Waverley itself is an English name and is now an administrative division of the county of Surrey and an ancient parish in which a monastery was founded in 1128, the ruins of which remain. Stone from the dissolved abbey was used in the construction of Waverley House, a stately home close to the ruins, which was visited on several occasions by Sir Walter Scott. The hero of Scott's novel, from the south of England, was called Waverley, perhaps inspired by the Surrey house although there appears to be no link between the fictional Waverley and the family of Scott's hosts. The novel is, however, widely regarded as the first of the historical novel genre, basing its fictional romantic story amongst the tumultuous events of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.

It was not until 1899 that Waverley was used by the North British, by which time the name had already been used for another Clyde steamer. This was in 1885 and for Captain Bob Campbell's Kilmun ferry trade. Found too large for the run she was chartered to a Bristol-based consortium in 1887 and credited with showing that a steamboat service could be operated successfully in that area. When the Campbell business (now run by the retired Bob's two sons) was moved to Bristol in 1889, Waverley became the first ship in what was to become the famous P&A Campbell "White Funnel" fleet. The name was to be given to a later Campbell ship, the former PS Barry, taken over from the Barry Railway Company in 1922. The original Waverley had survived World War I but found to be in no state to be re-commissioned and had been scrapped in 1921. Neither of the two Waverleys survived World War II. The Scottish ship was lost at the beaches of Dunkirk and Campbell's ship was bombed and sunk off Sunderland a little over one year later.  

The current Waverley took the name of the Dunkirk victim although strictly speaking, she was a relacement for "Marmion" which was also lost during the war (the Waverley of 1899 having already been withdrawn from the fleet, with no plans in place for her to be replaced). The name disappeared from the Bristol Channel and South Coast ................ until it was seen once again in what have now become regular visits by the Clyde's Waverley.

Waverley Gantocks 280611 KW.jpg

A remarkable survivor : Waverley passes the Gantocks rocks off Dunoon on 28th June 2011 in a photo kindly supplied by Kenny Whyte. Almost 34 years earlier Waverley grounded on these rocks in an incident which brought an end to her third season in "preservation" and almost brought an end to the whole project. Even though she returned the following season despite the scepticism of many, very few would have been confident that she would still be passing by regularly in 2011 - as she still does to this day.


External Internet Links

Waverley Excursions - Official Website - includes timetables and fares, on-line booking, departure point notes and the official presentation of the vessel

Waverley Calendars :
High quality calendars featuring P.S. Waverley produced by Nick Wober
Return to other areas of the database relating to Waverley
PSPS (Paddle Steamer Preservation Society) : owners of Waverley
Operational Paddle Steamer List
: European paddlers still in service and notes on other paddlers worldwide

British Paddle Steamer Index : British paddle steamers of the past and present : Main Menu

Owners of Waverley over the years : their histories and vessels

LNER (London and North Eastern Railway)
BTC (British Transport Commission)
Caledonian Steam Packet Co
PSPS (Paddle Steamer Preservation Society)

Operating Areas in the UK - history of operations, operators and vessels in the areas Waverley now serves

Firth of Clyde : Waverley's home base
River Thames
Bristol Channel

Waverley is not the only surviving paddler which sailed for the Caledonian Steam Packet Company

PS Maid of the Loch (1953-1981) sailed for the company on Loch Lomond, abautiful and famous lake close to the Firth of Clyde and drained into the Clyde estuary at Dumbarton by the River Leven

The ship is owned by a charitable trust, the Loch Lomond Steamship Company who maintain her at Balloch pier and whose volunteers have for many years been restoring her. The aim is to return her to operational service and a financial appeal is in place to try and raise the necessary funds

In September 2015 it was announced that the project had been awarded a first round pass by the National Lottery Heritage Fund allowing final design work to proceed for a return to service. The prospect, should a final approval be given, is that the HLF will provide 3.8 million towards the 5.5 million capital project. 

Maid of the Loch at Luss 800 K Whyte.jpg

Waverley is not the only surviving Clyde Steamer

TS Queen Mary, until January 2009 a floating restaurant in London, was the flagship of the Caledonian Steam Packet Company until her withdrawal in 1977. In September 2015 she was obtained by a Scottish charity whose objects are to preserve this vessel, now unique in the world and with a fascinating back-story, in her original home port of Glasgow. The charity now needs as much support as possible to ensure she is preserved and cared for - for the benefit of the nation and the Clyde's maritime heritage 

Please click  here for more details

Queen mary Tighnabruaich menu.jpg      The internet's leading source of paddle steamer information and photographs



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The webmaster's extensive paddle steamer photograph portfolio in reduced size

Bibliography  :  There are many books about Waverley - here is a range of the most important

Waverley Steam Navigation Company
Compilers - Alistair Deayton and Iain Quinn
Published 2014 by Amberley Publishing
ISBN - 978-14456-4155-3
The definitive detailed history of Waverley Steam Navigation Company from 1974 until 2000 with sections written by many of the main players involved in the ship's remarkable survival

Waverley - the Golden Jubilee
Various Contributors
Published 1997 by Waverley Excursions Ltd and Alan T Condie Publications
ISBN 1-85638-025-4 (Hardback) or 1-85638-026-2 (Softback)
The definitive up-to-date and copiously illustrated history, by those involved in her operation and preservation

Waverley - the Golden Jubilee (see above) builds on the long-running Waverley-The Story of the World's Last Sea-Going Paddler, complied by Fraser McHaffie, later assisted by Joe McKendrick and Leslie Brown, first issued in 1976 and reissued with updated text and new photographs up to and including a 7th edition in June 1994 (IBSN 0-9505177-7-1).
P.S. Waverley - Last in the World
Richard H. Coton
Published in 1973 by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society
Issued by the PSPS shortly before the announcement of Waverley's "official" withdrawal from service

Birth of a Legend
Compiled by Eric Armstrong, Leslie Brown, Joe McKendrick and Clem Robb
Published in 1987 by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (Scottish Branch)
ISBN 0-9505177-4-7
Extensive photo coverage of the construction, launch , fitting out and first season of Waverley

Waverley - A Legend Reborn
Compiled by Stuart cameron and Joe McKendrick
Published in 2000 by Waverley Excursions Ltd
ISBN  0 9505177 8 X
Full colour photographs with extensive captions charting the first phase of the "Heritage Rebuild"

Acknowledgements : All text by Gordon Stewart. All photos by Gordon Stewart unless otherwise achnowledged. Please do not use photos without permission

Contact :

Raddampfer Waverley
Vapeurs roues aubes Waverley 


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