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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 England 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
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.
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 : For most cruises, buy tickets on board once you have
set sail - but you can book in advance on-line on the website or by phone on 0845
130 4647 and this is advisable to avoid disappointment on certain occasions especially for cruises associated with special
events and festivals and also on peak weekends when good weather is expected.
Saturdays on the Clyde :
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
choose a midweek sailing or Sunday sailing if at all possible. On
midweeks the ship is likely to be much less full.
Where is Waverley
just now ? :
WAVERLEY SPECIFICATIONS and HISTORY
Launched 2/10/1946 at builders A&J Inglis,
Pointhouse, Glasgow, Scotland
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 England 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.
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 founmd 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 English and Welsh 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 north Wales 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 three views of the sail past of a crowded Llandudno pier
GO ABOARD ....... AND LOOK AROUND
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
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
Raddampfer Waverley in Schottland
Waverley booze cruise