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PS Waverley                                                                                       All you need to know about the "World's Last Sea-Going Paddle Steamer" and how to sail on her
Ilfracombe 07 06 09 K Whyte.jpg
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 open seas

Between 1947 and 1973 she sailed on the Clyde, initially for the London & North Eastern Railway and then for the Caledonian Steam Packet Company after railway nationalisation and was particularly associated with the route from Craigendoran to Arrochar at the head of Loch Long, providing a lifeline for what was once an isolated community, but more prominently as one leg of the highly-popular "Three Lochs Tour" which involved a return cruise on Loch Lomond, with associated bus and rail connections. With the closure of that route and the conversion of most other Clyde services to car-ferry services, the Clyde's last operational paddle steamer seemed destined for the ship-breakers until taken over by the charity 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 expected 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,
TS Queen Mary. The unexpected was attempted and whilst Queen Mary struggled on only until 1977, those successful attempts continue annually to this day and Waverley has now sailed "in preservation" for much longer than she did as a "commercial" steamer.

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. Qualifying UK tax payers are encouraged to use Gift Aid on fares (the headline fare includes a 10% voluntary donation which, if paid, unlocks a further 25% available from the UK government) to assist in helping the ship try to break even on its operations. The ship's crew and staff at the operating company, Waverley Excursions, are paid employees but much other work is done by volunteers. Whilst the company tries to cover as much of its cost base as possible through fares, without these volunteers and without donations from her many supporters the ship would not survive. There is now a proven demand for what she can do in today's world with increased leisure spending (despite recent years' difficulties) and with interest in "heritage" greater than ever, Waverley provides a popular sailing opportunity different to any other in the UK.  See below for specifications and history


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 - and may not return to service depending on the outcome of a fundraising drive - see note near the bottom of this page

Provisional timetables for all regional sailings for 2014 have now been published on the website. Copies of the timetables (and later the regional sailing brochures with prices) are made available to download 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 sailing brochures which gave details of the planned sailings and prices for that year, please scroll down the page and click on the link.

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.
Phone and on line booking secures your ticket and lets the operators know your e-mail details so they can send you alerts if there is any problem with the sailing if they have sufficient advance notice of potential issues (such as impossible weather conditions or mechanical breakdown). The operators are under strict regulation by the maritime safety authorities regarding sailing in certain weather 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 . See the
FAQ Page of the WEL website for more information

Gift Aid on fares : Advertised fares (see brochures below) include a "voluntary donation" of 10% to activate a Gift Aid claim if a form is signed. Those not qualifying for or wishing to purchase through the UK Gift Aid scheme are entitled to a 10% discount on the advertised daily fares, but this will need to be asked for when booking by phone or aboard ship (but still appears impossible if you use the on-line booking system on the Waverley Excursions website). Paying the donation and returning the form allows effectively changes your payment into a donation and allows the company to reclaim significant extra money from the state. Higher rate taxpayers can declare the value of the donation on their HMRC Self-Assessment form to recover the difference between their marginal rate and the standard income tax rate.
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. Discounts are available to
Paddle Steamer Preservation Society members who book in advance by phone. Special fares apply to bicycles. Dogs (except Guide Dogs) are not allowed aboard. A disabled toilet is available on the promenade deck. The crew can assist disabled people to get aboard. The main, observation and lower decks are only accessible by steps. For more details see the website FAQ Page.

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

Cruise Length : Although Waverley is based at Glasgow, she normally only sails from there on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, replicating the "All the Way" cruises of old. On Sundays a range of cruises are offered to further-flung parts of the Firth never normally served from Glasgow in the past. This makes the Sunday sail a very long day. Most cruises can be joined at mainland piers closer to the Firth, 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.

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 and 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. 

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 noisy and have sometimes been dubbed a "booze cruise". 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. Tea, coffee, soft drinks and snacks such as crisps, soup and sandwiches are also available as well as sweets at the Souvenir Shop


WAVERLEY SPECIFICATIONS and HISTORY


Launched 2/10/1946 at builders A&J Inglis, Pointhouse, Glasgow, Scotland
240 feet long - 57 ft 3 in maximum breadth
Three crank triple expansion engines 24, 39 and 62 inches x 66 inches - by Rankin & Blackmore, Greenock
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 (2013) : maximum 925 (depending on which waters she is sailing in) : Note : In 1947 her passenger certificate allowed 1350 passengers


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.

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 in 2013.


News Update

Waverley is currently undertaking her 2014 Clyde season

New - and unexpected for 2014 - Waverley to call at Keppel Pier (Great Cumbrae) instead of Millport Old Pier

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 Millort 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.




  


Where is Waverley just now ?  :
Click here :
 http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/ and enter Waverley where it says "Go To Vessel" or here http://www.shipais.com/showship.php?mmsi=232001540


GO ABOARD .......  AND LOOK AROUND


Step aboard Waverley.JPG

Click here 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, of course, the magnificent steam engines


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
 


WAVERLEY : THROUGH THE YEARS ......


WAVERLEY : SAILING FOR THE LONDON & NORTH EASTERN RAILWAY COMPANY


Waverley 1947 Alan Brown and GF.jpg

Waverley's first season - 1947. Photo by Alan Brown, shown by kind courtesy of Gillon Ferguson. Waverley now sails in almost exactly the same livery.


WAVERLEY : SAILING FOR THE CALEDONIAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY


Waverley heads down Firth from Gourock in April 1969                                                                                      Click here for more of Waverley in her CSP days


WAVERLEY : SAILING FOR CALEDONIAN MACBRAYNE


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. Photo by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte.                  Click here for more


WAVERLEY SAILING FOR THE WAVERLEY STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY : "IN PRESERVATION" FROM 1975
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.


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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


From the paddlesteamers.info archive

 

 

Waverley's first year in preservation - at Glasgow in 1975

By 1987 trips around the UK such as to Newport were common

Visiting London is now a regular late-Autumn feature 

but the main season is always spent on the Clyde

For the 21st century she underwent a major refit

being restored to closely reflect her 1947 appearance

including refurbishment of her triple expansion engines

driving her paddles taking her around the coast
 

to places such as Ilfracombe, Devon
 

s202001-30.jpg

Go to the Waverley Photograph Archive

 

 


More photo series : By Gordon Stewart unless otherwise acknowledged. For photo series by Gordon Stewart prior to 2012 - see the paddlesteamers.info photo archive


In contrast to the scenery of the Clyde, Waverley afford the opportunity to see various parts of the UK coastline which were once familiar to paddle steamer customers. Here Waverley backs away from Swanage pier with the limestone cliffs of this part of the south coast of England 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 of England : 1990 to 1993 by Phil Barnes

Weymouth : 4th September 1994 by Phil Barnes

London : 6th October 1994 by Phil Barnes

2012 Photos  

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
 

2013 Photos 

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 




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 England. It is, however, a lucrative market and there is a view that she would be best served spending more time here - and she was back again now in 2013.


Waverley Tower Bridge 1988.jpg

Two historical engineering icons : Waverley passes under London's Tower Bridge in 1988 ............. as she has continued to do each autumn since


PUBLISHED SAILING BROCHURE ARCHIVE


Firth of Clyde - 2013
The South Coast and Thames Estuary - 2013

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

Timetables :  Liverpool & North Wales 2014      Bristol Channel 2014   South Coast 2014     Thames Estuary 2014


External Internet Links


Waverley Excursions - Official Website - includes timetables and fares, on-line booking, departure point notes and the official presentation of the vessel
The Scottish branch of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society's Blogspot for the best and most up-to-date news about Waverley
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
Caledonian-MacBrayne  
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 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. She is an equally important part of Britain's martime heritage - more so in fact as she represents the last of her class wordwide.

Please click  here for more details

Queen mary Tighnabruaich menu.jpg


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


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 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)
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"


Raddampfer Waverley in Schottland
Vapeurs roues aubes Waverley en Ecosse


 

 Waverley booze cruise