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you need to know about the "World's Last Sea-Going Paddle Steamer"
and how to sail on her
Above: Waverley at Ilfracombe, Devon on 7th June 2009. Photo by kind 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. She is
generally regarded 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. 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 : one of the very last before
a more recent interest in the construction of steamers for purely
novelty and nostalgic reasons.
WAVERLEY BOOKING & SAILING INFORMATION
Go to www.waverleyexcursions.co.uk for the Waverley Excursions Ltd website for official information.
Please note that MV Balmoral, also operated by Waverley Excursions Ltd until 2012, is no longer in service. A new charitable organisation, Balmoral Fund Ltd are raising funds and establishing a new management organisation with the intention of returning her to service in 2015 completely independently of the Waverley business. Whether this intention will be realised is yet to be confirmed. Details at http://www.heritagesteamers.co.uk/balmoral/index.html
Provisional timetables for all regional sailings are made available to download from the Waverley Excursions website once available and are also sent to PSPS members and people on the operator's mailing list. 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. To see the 2013 and 2014 sailing brochures which gave details of the initially planned sailings and prices for that year, please scroll down the page and click on the links. Sailings are subject to suitable weather and sea conditions and there is a risk of cancellations (or revised routing if possible) especially in exposed sea areas. The Firth of Clyde is a well protected area and the occurence of enforced cancellations is normally low
Buying Tickets : You
can buy tickets on board once you have set sail. You can also book in
advance on-line on the website or by phone on 0845 130 4647 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
Waverley Excursions include a "voluntary donation" of 10% in their advertised fares on the assumption that you will be happy to make such a donation. This is doubly important to the ship's owners because it unlocks the potential to claim a further 25% of the fares (of qualifying taxpayers) from the government under the statutory Gift Aid scheme, which is a major way in which the government helps to fund charities. Without a substantial proportion of Waverley's passengers signing up for Gift Aid on fares it is unlikely that the ship would earn enough revenue to continue in service, so it is to be encouraged
If you don't want to pay the voluntary donation you don't have to. You are perfectly entitled to travel at 10% below the advertised fare. Unfortunately you cannot get the lower fare if you book on line. You must call the Waverley Excursions office (if you want to buy tickets in advance) or buy at the purser's office on board when you make your sailing. Also the office and purser will quote you the higher fare, so it is essential that, prior to making your payment, you say that you do not want to make the donation and require the 10% reduction. This will be done without quibble.
If you are happy to donate and are a qualifying UK taxpayer, all you need to do is click the Gift Aid box on the on-line booking system, or if you book by phone, confirm you are a "Gift Aider". If you buy your tickets aboard the ship the purser will ask if you are a qualifying taxpayer and ask you to fill out a short form which then allows the company to get the extra money from Revenue & Customs. If you are not a qualifying tax payer, you can still pay the 10% voluntary donation if you wish.
The Gift Aid rules (as at 2014) indicate that if the purchaser is a qualifying taxpayer, Gift Aid is available on all the tickets bought for, for example, a family group where some members might not be taxpayers. Higher rate taxpayers can enter Gift Aided donations on their tax returns and receive a tax reduction equivalent to the difference between the higher and basic rates of taxation. Please see the HMRC website to confirm the latest applicable arrangements
Other notes on fares : Concessionary fares are available for seniors (on most cruises, but
not normally on Clyde Saturdays, for example). Children 0-4 yrs travel free,
and 5-17 year olds are half price if accompanied by an adult. Single fares are
available on-board at 70% of the return fare. Special fares apply to bicycles. Dogs (except Guide Dogs)
are not allowed aboard.
Food & Drink : Passengers are welcome to take food and soft drinks aboard but alcohol is prohibited. 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 choice of four dishes. For 2014 the company is experimenting with optional pre-booking for main meals with set "sittings" using reserved tables in the restaurant. In a move to recreate how meals were normally served in Waverley's very early days, pre-booked meals are served by hostesses at no extra cost to the regular prices. Pre-booking also means that when the ship is busy, you can be sure of your place at one of the tables. Prices are quite expensive but it is one way that the ship can generate some additional needed funds. See more - including downloadable menus from the Waverley website. Likewise, the bar is also quite expensive, but remains popular. Tea, coffee, soft drinks and snacks such as crisps, soup and sandwiches are also available as well as sweets at the Souvenir Shop.
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 essential "Millenium Rebuild" to proceed, that she be restored to a close approximation of her 1947 appearance. Sailing on relatively short routes, she was never intended as a "luxury" vessel, but comfortable enough for the standards and passenger expectations of the day.
Cover : Waverley has around 400 indoor seats spread around the bar, the restaurant (which should not really be used unless eating from the servery), the lower bar and the fore and aft deckhouses. 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 weekends especially much of her capacity, indoor and out, is filled and it pays to get to the boarding queue early to grab your favourite place aboard !
Saturdays on the Clyde : 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. 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. There is frequently a live band playing in the bar for part of the day. 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.
Commentaries : There are often highly informative commentaries on Waverley cruises. 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 a Waverley cruise ? : Scroll down to the "Go aboard ..... and look around" section and follow the links for illustrative photos and notes from a range of excursions
Where is Waverley
just now ? :
WAVERLEY SPECIFICATIONS and HISTORY
Launched 2/10/1946 at builders A&J Inglis,
Pointhouse, Glasgow, UK
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.
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 Caledonian-MacBrayne
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.
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 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
Waverley reappeared for the late summer season in 2000 greatly improved but restored wherever possible to 1947 appearance as required by the funding agency
Returned to George Prior Engineering in the winter of 2002-03 for the completion of the rebuilding programme.
GO ABOARD ....... AND LOOK AROUND
2014 Photo News Highlights
New and unexpected for 2014 - Waverley called at Keppel Pier (Great Cumbrae) instead of Millport Old Pier
Waverley calls at Ardrossan on her 40th Anniversary in preservation celebratory cruise on August 8th
The cermonial opening of Llandudno pier, not possible as planned in 2013, could not be achieved again as Waverley only managed a sail past
Unexpected news from North Ayrshire Council and the Millport authorities was that the traditional pier situated in the sheltered bay on the south side of Great Cumbrae at Millport would not be abvailble for Waverley to call due to safety reasons. This news came through after the season commenced and would have had major consequences for the steamer's schedule has the offer not come from the Marine Research Establishment on Great Cumbrae of their pier at Keppel. A traditional steamer calling point until closure in 1971, a new pier was built in 1984 for the purposes of scientific research vessels. After trials it was found suitable for Waverley to call (for the first time since 1971) and Keppel pier has now been inserted into the ship's timetable instead of Millport. Located close by, the town itself can be reached by the frequent bus service which links Millport with the Largs car ferry at Cumbrae Slip. Whether Millport pier will be reopened for use by Waverley is unclear. It is expected to require a significant sum of money and there is a view that it should be redeveloped to specialise as a yachting marina berth.
The three photos below, shown by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte, show Waverley on her first public call of 2014 on 26th June on the occasion of a charter by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.
Forty years on from the day when Waverley was bought for a nominal £1 on behalf of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, the society's Scottish Branch chartered the ship jointly with the Clyde River Steamer Club for a celebratory cruise on August 8th. Leaving Greenock at around 10:30, she called at Largs, Ardrossan and Lochranza before making an unusual circling of Inchmarnock island. Various commemorative events took place, including a recreation of the well-known photo of the pound note being handed over to John Whittle, then of Caledonian-MacBrayne. Both PSPS members Terry Sylvester and Douglas McGowan were back with a Scottish pound note to hand to John Whittle in front of the cameras aboard ship. Waverley is seen below entering Ardrossan harbour in a photo shown by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte. Ardrossan was not a regular port of call for Waverley but was, and remains to this day, the mainland terminal for car ferry services to Brodick on the Isle of Arran, although not a call in Waverley's regular cruise programme.
Liverpool was the first port Waverley called at when she made her first tentative steps of sailing beyond the Clyde in 1977 and started what has since become an annual visit to parts of the southern UK coasts. Waverley was highly popular at Liverpool in 1977 and a return visit was planned for 2013 to coincide with the reopening of Llandudno pier for traffic after six years following major restoration work. Unfortunately the works were not completed in time for Waverley to be the ceremonial first visitor, so the arrangements were postponed until 2014. Poor weather and sea conditions meant that Waverley was marooned in Glasgow and unable to sail south on August 25th and therefore had to cancel her fully booked cruise from Liverpool to Llandudno for that purpose the following day. Safely at Liverpool by the morning of the 27th, the ship took a full load of passengers to Llandudno for a postponed ceremony only to be able to achieve a brief sail past as the captain decided that conditions made it unsafe to berth and exchange passengers, leaving several hundred people booked on a cruise to view the Anglesey coast disappointed - and those from Liverpool wanting time ashore at the Conwy resort equally out of luck. Following the coastal cruise, Waverley made directly for Liverpool without attempting to return to Llandudno. With conditions worsening, the ship, having droppped its passengers at Liverpool sailed out to anchor in relatively protected waters off Colwyn Bay, but reamined at anchor and had to cancel the first two scheduled cruises of its subsequent short programme in the Bristol Channel. The photos below, by Kenny Whyte, show Waverley arriving at Liverpool early morning of the 27th with the port city skyline, including the iconic Liver Building in the background, the ship tied up at Liverpool in advance of the cruise and two views of the sail past of a crowded Llandudno pier
Unlike the piers Waverley was used to calling at on the Clyde, many of the piers in the southern UK are much more elaborate structures and much longer as well. Many were located at seaside resorts where sandy beaches and relatively shallow areas close to the coast required long structures to reach sufficiently deep water, especially to allow steamer calls at all states of the tide. The Bristol Channel has a particularly large tidal range and Clevedon pier (seen below as Waverley calls on September 5th 2014) stands some way out into the channel. Many piers in the southern UK combined their transport role with entertainment. Not only was a "promenade" along the pier de rigeur, especially in Victorian times, the structure itself would often include large pavilions for games and variety shows. Clevedon, unlike the three piers once operating at nearby Weston-super-Mare, is now restored and for steamer calls only, but its pier end structure affords a grat viewing platform when Waverley calls
Penarth pier is much shorter than Clevedon, but also offers the opportunity to berth at all states of the tide. It has recently been refurbished and the pavilion cafeteria has now reopened to supplement the ice cream parlours along its length. Unfortunately for those on the pier, Waverley's calls don't make for good photo opportunities. Thie pier edge is out of bounds and at all stages of the tide, water level is somewhat below pier platform level. In the view below taken on 5th September 2014, the tide is relatively far out and Waverley lies low - and almost out of sight.
WAVERLEY : THROUGH THE YEARS ......
WAVERLEY : SAILING FOR THE LONDON & NORTH EASTERN RAILWAY COMPANY
WAVERLEY : SAILING FOR THE CALEDONIAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY
WAVERLEY : SAILING FOR CALEDONIAN MACBRAYNE
WAVERLEY SAILING FOR THE WAVERLEY STEAM
NAVIGATION COMPANY : "IN PRESERVATION" FROM 1975
More photo series : By Gordon Stewart unless otherwise acknowledged. For photo series by Gordon Stewart prior to 2012 - see the paddlesteamers.info photo archive
Weymouth : 4th September 1994 by Phil Barnes
London : 6th October 1994 by Phil Barnes
Ayr : 11th August 1999 by Phil Barnes
PUBLISHED SAILING BROCHURE ARCHIVE
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 paddlesteamers.info 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
paddlesteamers.info : 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
paddlesteamers.info The internet's leading source of paddle steamer information and photographs
Bibliography : There are many books about Waverley - here is a range of the most important
Waverley - the Golden Jubilee
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 Golen 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)
Extensive photo coverage of the construction, launch , fitting out and first season of Waverley
Waverley - A Legend Reborn
Waverley booze cruise