Thursday, 26 September 2013

Waverley September 1973

On Monday 30th September 2013 it will be exactly 40 years since Waverley was withdrawn from service with her future looking very uncertain.

Waverley's 1973 season did not go well. She lost 9 complete days directly due to mechanical issues. On the occasions where she was withdrawn from service it was usually Maid of Argyll or the Queen Mary II which replaced her. The results of the 1973 cruising programme were described in the Scottish Transport Group's annual report as "particularly disappointing" even though Waverley did in fact carry more passengers during the 1973 season than in the preceding 10 years.

As the end of the 73 season approached rumours spread that it was to be Waverley's last season. Queen Mary II had undergone a major refurbishment and therefore it was expected Waverley would pay the price. Waverley's 2nd last day in service on 29th September was on charter to the PSPS for a special cruise round the Lochs. Sunday 30th September 1973 found the steamer undertaking a special charter for a film crew and her final public sailing was round Bute. On Monday 1st October she entered James Watt Dock, Greenock, the first part of her career was over but the best was yet to come.

The following 3 pictures were all taken during Waverley's 1973 season while in service for Caledonian MacBrayne and are part of the PSPS Collection.

Waverley at Millport on Easter Sunday 22nd April 1973. This picture has Waverley flying the Caledonian Steam Packet Company pennant from the main mast. It was later in the 73 season before the new company house flag was flown.

Approaching Gourock
At Largs
With thanks to Andrew Gladwell for supplying the pictures from the PSPS collection. Further examples of items in the PSPS collection can be viewed at the heritage steamers website.

Paul Semple

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Latest Balmoral Newsletter

The latest MV Balmoral Newsletter has been emailed to all those who signed up for it via the MV Balmoral website. To sign up for future editions just enter your email address at the bottom of the home page on the website.

The current newsletter contains the following progress to date report:

The Balmoral Strategy Group has set up a company with charitable aims, MV Balmoral Fund Ltd, to lead on the fundraising campaign to finance dry- docking, refit and establish working capital for a new operating company dedicated to the operation of MV Balmoral. Although operating under the auspices of a separate company, MV Balmoral's operation will dovetail with that of PS Waverley' where practicable to do so.

The operation of MV Balmoral differs from that of PS Waverley and it is felt local management will ensure the ship is given the best possible chance of success in the future. The new operating company would charter the ship from the owning company Waverley Steam Navigation.

On 31 August we were delighted to welcome aboard seventy five Paddle Steamer Preservation Society members and friends, including representatives from Wessex, London and Northern Branches. The Balmoral Strategy Group presented an update on the campaign to return the ship to operation. We were delighted to be joined once more by the Jig Mad Wolf Ceilidh and Barn Dance Band who provided entertainment following the meeting. The band had attended the ship during the Bristol Harbour Festival.

21 September saw the ship receive a visit from the Bristol Civic Society who were appraised of the ships history, firmly rooted in Bristol, and the campaign to return what is now Bristol’s last seagoing ship to operation. The 35 visitors appreciated seeing work in progress, and were enthusiastic in ideas and encouragement.

Sign up today and keep up to date with the Balmoral appeal. A donation form can be downloaded from the website at

Paul Semple

Friday, 20 September 2013

Scottish Branch Winter Meetings 2013-2014

The winter syllabus for the Scottish Branch will be sent out in the next edition of Paddle Wheels but advanced notice is given below for each meeting.

Friday 18th October - S.S. Shieldhall
Graham Mackenzie, MD of The Solent Steam Packet Limited, gives an illustrated talk on the history and preservation of the former Glasgow Corporation sludge vessel.

Friday 15th November - Films of the Clyde
Bert Scott presents his films of some of the ships which graced the Clyde in bygone years.

Friday 20th December - Steamers of the Seventies
Branch Chairman Peter Reid entertains with a selection of slides from his collection, taken on the Clyde and Western Isles in the 1970s. (Joint meeting with the West Highland Steamer Club)

Saturday 28th December - Branch Festive Lunch Cruise
Festive cruise from Greenock aboard M.V. Cruiser with optional buffet lunch.

Friday 17th January- Steamers of the Sixites
Eric Schofield shares a selection of his slides taken around the Clyde in the 1960s.

Friday 21st February - P.S. Kingswear Castle
Captain John Megoran's illustrated talk on Kingswear Castle's move to the River Dart and her first season back home.

Friday 21st March - 40 years of WSN
Derek Peters, Campbell Watt and Paul Semple mark 40 years of Waverley Steam Navigation Company with anecdotes from their periods of service aboard Waverley.

Friday 25th April - Annual General Meeting
The AGM will be followed by a joint meeting with the West Highland Steamer Club at which there will be a presentation entitled "Recalling the King George" to commemorate 40 years since the withdrawal of the MacBrayne turbine steamer.

All meetings will be held at Renfield St. Stephen's Church Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow, at 7.30 p.m.

Scottish Branch Committee

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Ship Ahoy 2014

Following the success of the Ship Ahoy Maritime Heritage Exhibition, which was held in April this year, the Ship Ahoy Team have decided to mount a similar exhibition, in a new venue, on Saturday 5th April 2014.

The venue  for Ship Ahoy 2014 will be The Tall Ship sailing vessel Glenlee, which is moored on the River Clyde adjacent to the Riverside Museum.

As before the organisations taking part will be the Clyde River Steamer Club, West Highland Steamer Club, Coastal Cruising Association, Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, Model Steamer Club, Friends of Glenlee and MacBrayne Circle.

It is hoped that short tours will be available on board a preserved MacBrayne’s bus giving participants a flavour of old-time bus travel. Other vehicles from the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust may be available on the day.

As the vessel is open to the public the exhibition will open and close in accordance with public admission times which are 10am to 5pm.  Admission is free.

Catering will be available on board Glenlee throughout the day. Further details will be posted in due course.

The Tall Ship website can be viewed by clicking here.

Scottish Branch Committee

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Clyde Summer Season 2013

Waverley has now arrived on the south coast having departed Glasgow on Monday 2nd September after making a brief call at Yarrows yard at Scotstoun to allow for her navigation lights to be replaced.

The main Clyde summer season came to a conclusion after Waverley sailed back from Millport to Glasgow on Sunday (1st September). Overall the ship had performed exceptionally well and no days were lost due to mechanical issues. Indeed none of the 64 scheduled sailings were outright cancelled and only a few minor alterations to the published timetable were necessary due to weather conditions.

The weather for most of July was excellent and as a result the ship carried her greatest passenger loadings since 1994. During August the weather was variable but passenger numbers kept in line with 2012 so overall the Clyde season has been a success. Throughout the season changes have been taking place in terms of the new WEL website as well as a new format for press advertising. A new logo has been designed and is now evident on the website and on some souvenirs in the shop. It is hoped that the new style of advertising and the new logo bring a fresh feel to the Waverley brand.

Looking ahead there are still 36 days of scheduled sailings between the South Coast, Thames and Clyde. Waverley as ever is in need of continued support to ensure her long term survival.

The following pictures were taken during her final week of the Clyde season on Tuesday 27th August (Ayr) and Sunday 1st September.

Waverley cants round the corner on the North Harbour at Ayr for the final time in 2013.

Berthing at Compass Pier, Ayr.

Arriving at Greenock on Sunday 1st September.

At Millport Old Pier while her passengers have time ashore.

Low tide at Millport. (Photo by David Shirres)

Resting at Millport. (Photo by David Shirres)
Over the final weekend Waverley had two special flags being flown above the bridge. They are the flags of the Swiss cantons of Luzern (blue and white) and Unterwalden (red and white). They were being flown to welcome 2 paddle steamer masters from Lake Luzern who were making a special trip to Scotland just to sail on Waverley.
The final fan board selection for the Summer Clyde Season 2013, the return sailing from Millport to Glasgow.

Paul Semple