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continues a long tradition of carrying passengers to holiday resorts or
onwards for a day excursion, usually through spectacular or interesting
scenery : a role once inextricably linked with paddle steamers in
various areas around the UK coast. Whilst there remain numerous
opportunities throughout the UK for "boat trips", Waverley is the last
surviving example of this particular type of service
If you don't know what to expect when taking a sail on Waverley, please look at the "Waverley Booking and Sailing Information" section below and this will help you get the best out of any trip.
Waverley Excursions have just published their planned timetable for early season cruises on the Clyde (May 21-25) and Western Isles (May 26 - June 2) which is available to view or download from their website
Early indications from WEL suggest that the 2015 season will closely approximate the 2014 season in terms of the general dates for sailing in each area. She is expected to leave the Clyde late August for Liverpool and North Wales, followed by the Bristol Channel, South Coast and Thames
Above: Waverley at Ilfracombe, Devon on 7th June 2009. Photo by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte
Launched 2/10/1946 at builders A&J Inglis, Pointhouse, Glasgow, UK (now the site of the Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport)
Dimensions : 240 feet long - 57 ft 3 in maximum breadth
Engines : Three crank triple expansion : 24, 39 and 62 inches x 66 inches - by Rankin & Blackmore, Greenock
Fuel : Originally coal-burning, she was re-boilered in 1957 to consume fuel oil. She has been re-boilered several times since
Speed : On trial she managed 18.37 knots and today can still exceed 16 if required. Normal service speeds generally do not exceed 14 knots
693 Gross Registered Tonnes
Passenger capacity (2014) : maximum 860, 800 or 740 (depending on which 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
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 : one of the very last before a more recent interest in the construction of steamers for purely novelty and nostalgic reasons.
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. 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. By the early 1970s, with the the conversion of most Clyde services to car-ferry operation and passenger numbers for traditional excursions declining, the last operational paddle steamer on the Clyde also seemed destined for the ship-breakers.
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.
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. Operating a historical steamship such as Waverley in a section of the market abandoned by commercial operators many years ago 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.
tries to cover as much of its enormous cost base as possible through
without these volunteers and without state support through
the statutory Gift Aid scheme and donations from her many
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. However, with interest in "heritage" greater
Waverley provides a popular sailing opportunity different to any other
in the UK.
WAVERLEY HISTORY : KEY DATES
Entered service in 1947
primarily for the London & North Eastern Railway's Craigendoran (railhead) service to Arrochar
at the head of Loch Long
GO ABOARD ....... AND LOOK AROUND ........ THEN FOLLOW A WAVERLEY CRUISE
WAVERLEY BOOKING & SAILING INFORMATION
to www.waverleyexcursions.co.uk for the Waverley Excursions Ltd website for official
Whilst the website has a "FAQ" page with important information and the company takes bookings in accordance with its terms and conditions, the following hints might be useful for intending travellers based on the webmaster's knowledge and experience of Waverley
Timetables : 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. You can get on at the start of a cruise or at intermediate calling points and stay aboard for the day or get off at a calling point en-route and catch the ship home on her return.
To see the 2013 and 2014 sailing brochures which gave details of the initially planned sailings and prices for that year, please scroll down this page and click on the links.
Sea conditions and service cancellations : Sailings are subject to suitable sea conditions. The ship's operators are under strict guidelines from the maritime safety authorities regarding sailing in certain conditions which could lead to cancellation, curtailment or alteration of advertised cruises. "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 can pose greater problems, especially as they are visited outside the main summer season. If Waverley is unable to call at any pier at short notoice 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.
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 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
Passenger Capacity Limitation : 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). 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. Tickets are
collected on disembarkation (to ensure that all due fares have been
paid and to "cancel" the tickets). Gift Aid declarations, where applicable, are collected at the same time.
As a charity, Waverley's owners can benefit from extra government assistance when passengers (who are or are in a "family group" with qualifying UK taxpayers) make a donation to the charity in lieu of a fare which is at least 10% more than the applicable fare. Waverley can then claim a further 25% of the value from the government under the statutory Gift Aid scheme, which is a major way in which the state helps to fund charities. Without a substantial proportion of Waverley's passengers signing up for Gift Aid when purchasing tickets 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 HM Revenue & Customs. If you are not a qualifying tax payer, you can still pay the 10% voluntary donation if you wish, but the company gets no further benefit.
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 : A Waverley cruise is not meant to be a dining experience, but there is adequate provision of a range of food. Passengers are welcome to take food and soft drinks (but no alcohol) aboard. 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 by crew members as is the practice in the merchant navy. 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 partially recreating 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 and of food on the rare occasion that supplies run out if there is exceptional demand. The restaurant can only accommodate 100 guests - at a squeeze. 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, 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.
Covered Accommodation : Licenced to carry up to 860 people in the most protected of waters and 740 in outer estuarine areas, 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 it pays to get to the boarding queue early to grab your favourite place aboard !
It should be understood that at weekends, Waverley needs to sail at or near her capacity if she is going to turn in a reasonable financial performance. If not, the level of donations she obtains might not be enough to allow her to surviveInternal Styling : 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, but comfortable enough for the standards and passenger expectations of the day.
Click here to have a look around Waverley
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. Engines such as these would not be built for any modern "commercial" ship and as such, they are the main reason why Waverley can be regarded as a "heritage" ship.
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.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.
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 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
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.
Where is Waverley
just now ? :
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
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.
Gordon Stewart has photographed Waverley on a number of occasions over the years for the paddlesteamers.info photo archive :
1975 : At Glasgow
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
WAVERLEY IN 2011
WAVERLEY IN 2012
WAVERLEY IN 2013
WAVERLEY IN 2014
PUBLISHED SAILING BROCHURE ARCHIVE
WAVERLEY : WHAT'S IN A NAME ....... and not to be confused with other paddle steamers of the same name
Waverley derives her name from 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.
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.
Many people remember paddle steamers on the Bristiol 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.
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
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.
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
Acknowledgements : All text by Gordon Stewart. All photos by Gordon Stewart unless otherwise achnowledged. Please do not use photos without permission
Contact : email@example.com
Waverley booze cruise