Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Lochranza - At Last!!

The motor ship Balmoral is also operated by Waverley Excursions and sails in support of the PS Waverley. Since Lochranza pier re-opened, there have been a number of planned sailings to Lochranza by the Balmoral during her normal September weekend visit to the Clyde but none of these have actually taken place, mostly due to weather conditions, when alternative cruises have been provided in more sheltered waters.

2008 proved to be the year that Balmoral eventually reached her planned destination and provided us with a very enjoyable cruise for the day, on Sunday 28th September.

However, Lochranza was not Balmoral's only unusual call for the day - she also made a call at Clydebank on her way down river from Glasgow.

Unfortunately it was not clear where Balmoral would actually call
and a number of us waited to see her come alongside
the restored Titan crane at Clydebank
- a great location in perfect sunlight.

In the end she arrived and berthed unexpectedly at the edge of Rothesay Dock,
resulting in a mad dash to try and catch a photo looking straight into the sun

After her Clydebank call,
Balmoral speeds off for her next call at Greenock

Balmoral arriving at Greenock

Balmoral at Lochranza

One of the least interested residents at Lochranza!
There were actually 4 deer together in this area but they were among
various obstructions which spoiled the line-up with the ship

Just what Clyde Cruising is all about - sitting in the sun,
enjoying the scenery and fresh air, passing the time of day with friends,
putting the world of coastal cruising to rights,
recounting exploits and previous journeys and planning for the next trip

A compilation of some short video clips taken during the Lochranza visit,
starring a few local heros (but no deer!) who pull out the stops
to make Waverley and Balmoral trips
1 possible and
2 memorable
Thanks to all concerned for another great trip.
Charles McCrossan

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

A Birthday Cruise to Brodick - Isle of Arran

(photos by the Author & Shelagh Holt)

Greetings Paddle People!

Just thought I'd tell you a quick story of our last cruise to Brodick on Waverley for 2008. This took place on Thursday 28th August which also doubled up as a belated Birthday celebration for Scottish Branch Assistant Secretary or Waverley Pint Sized Painter (and my better half) Shelagh.
We joined the ship at our home port of Greenock on a typically grey (for summer 2008 anyway) morning. Waverley sailed at 1030 for Helensburgh, Dunoon, Rothesay, Largs, Millport & Brodick. We will jump to Millport as the cruise downriver to this point was a bit murky so we didn't take any photos!!
As Waverley arrived at Millport the locals had laid on a warm reception as always - Millport should win an award for making the biggest effort to support our ship every time she calls throughout the season. The photo above shows some Scottish Country Dancers....

Who were joined - albeit briefly by Purser Jim!! Gon yersel Jimmy!!

Before Waverley left for Brodick to enthusiastic waving from the folks on the pier.

As I mentioned before this was a belated birthday cruise for Shelagh so time to go to the Lower Bar for a bit of cake (smuggled on without Shelagh's knowledge) which depicted the girl herself at work parties in Winter 2006/2007 during which she needle gunned the sprinkler room deck single handed!! As you can see she was delighted at having her photo taken that day!! Should the telegraph read "Finished With Needle Gun" ??
The photo below shows Shelagh taking great delight in carving up the cake which we all enjoyed - washed down with a glass (or two) of champagne from the ship's bar.
The image on the screen behind Shelagh was part of a short slideshow of photos put together - the one showing at this point was particularly apt as it shows her doing the same thing in the same place a couple of years ago!!

All too soon the ship arrived at Brodick where we disembarked. The photo shows the ship leaving on her usual afternoon cruise to Pladda and back..........

........while we went to the Brodick Bar via the Chocolate Shop and Woolies Bakers (amazing oatcakes)If you are feeling more energetic there is also a cheese shop, Arran Aromatics - who make fragrances, toileteries and candles etc and there is an excellent brewery but they are a couple of miles out of Brodick although there is sufficient time ashore given to make the trip. I really admire Arran for the real drive they have to create and maintain their own little economy on the island - no wonder it is called "Scotland in Minature"

Our return cruise to Greenock brought better weather and we were able to spend most of it on deck - enjoying a "Waverley Pie" from the Fwd Bar - something we'd been meaning to do all season.
Again Millport were out in force....
A great wee day out on Waverley. We're of to Isle of Wight this weekend - can't wait to walk down that gangway again - its been too long!!

See what this ship does to you eh?


Gavin Stewart

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Lochranza Traditions

You may have heard of "caber tossing" or "haggis hunting" but have you ever heard of "toilet-roll hurling"? Regular Waverley passengers on the last sailing of the season to Lochranza are assured that this is a traditional ritual exercised each year, when the last Steamer of the season has called at Lochranza, over the past century or so . I am sure that the current perpetrators have not been enacting the ritual for all that time - but they do a great job in adding to the occasion on behalf of Waverley. Knowing the folks involved, I'm surprised that sheep and tractors are not also involved - but that is a whole different story!!

Anne, Fiona and Kenny enjoy themselves as Waverley moves astern from Lochranza pier, while someone, somewhere, on Waverley makes a token effort to fight back! (This clip from the end of the 2007 season)

Charles McCrossan

A & J Inglis - Paddle Steamer Specialists

Scotland's last two paddle steamers, WAVERLEY and MAID OF THE LOCH, share a common heritage in that they were both built by the firm of A & J Inglis Ltd at their Pointhouse shipyard on the River Kelvin near to its confluence with the River Clyde in Glasgow. The firm built about 500 ships in the 101 years that they were business at Pointhouse Shipyard. A significant proportion of the 500 ships built at Pointhouse were paddle steamers. It is thought that at least 6 Inglis-built paddle steamers are still in existence in 2008. These include the former Humber passenger and car ferry LINCOLN CASTLE at Goole and the paddle train ferries EXEQUIEL RAMOS MEJIA (http://www.histarmar.com.ar/BuquesMercantes/Ferrobarcos/Ferrobarcos-EzRamosMejia.htm) and ROQUE SAENZ PENA (http://www.histarmar.com.ar/BuquesMercantes/Ferrobarcos/Ferrobarcos-RSaenzPenia.htm) in Argentina. Apart from WAVERLEY none of the surviving Inglis paddlers are operational.

In fact Inglis supplied a significant number of paddlers for the Argentine coastal and river fleets including some of the largest paddle steamers of their type ever built. One such vessel was the paddle steamer VIENA seen below (in a Robertson of Gourock picture) on the Clyde before departing for South America

VIENA was one of several large paddle steamers built on the Clyde for service in Argentina. principally from Buenos Aires. Most of them were built by Denny of Dumbarton or Inglis at Pointhouse.

The VIENA was an Inglis product and was launched into the River Kelvin on 8th June 1906.

She was based on the Paddle Steamer PARIS that Inglis had built ten years earlier for Mensajeries Fluviales del Plata (see http://www.clydesite.co.uk/clydebuilt/viewship.asp?id=1911). However, VIENA was built for Nicolas Mihanovich's Argentine Navigation Company. Some sources state that Mihanovich's son Pedro was aboard the vessel when she ran trials in the Gareloch on 17 October 1906. It is stated that she attained 16.5 knots. She seems a bit big to have run trials on the Gareloch measured mile - the picture below looks to be off Gourock.

VIENA was about 330 feet long with a beam of about 40 feet. Her gross tonnage was 2376 and she had accommodation for 340 First Class passengers and 120 in Second Class. The vessel was powered by a triple expansion steam engine built in Inglis' own engine works.

A few years after building VIENA, Inglis used the same basic design when they supplied the two large paddlers CABO SANTA MARIA and CABO CORRIENTES for Hamburg Sud Amerika Damfschiffarts in 1913. After WWI they were taken over by the Argentine Navigation Co and became GENERAL ARTIGAS and GENERAL ALVEAR respectively. VIENA was renamed WASHINGTON in 1915 (picture of VIENA as WASHINGTON).

Other large paddle steamers supplied by Inglis to the Argentine fleets about that time included the LAMBERE, BRUSELAS (http://www.clydesite.co.uk/clydebuilt/viewship.asp?id=1965) and her sister BERNA.

VIENA as WASHINGTON passed through various ownerships but remained in service until 1960. After several years of lying derelict at Rocha, Buenos Aires she sank in the basin on 3rd June 1967. The wreck was raised and scrapped by Satecna S. A. in 1981

About the same time that Inglis was supplying the paddlers to South America they also built the 1400 ton paddle steamer WEEROONA (below) for the Huddart Parker company's established excursion routes from Melbourne Australia. WEEROONA served with the US Navy during WWII and was owned subsequently by the Australian Government until scrapped in 1951.

Stuart Cameron

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Major Refurbishment for Veteran Swiss Paddler

The second oldest of Switzerland’s 15 operational paddle steamers is due to be taken out of service later this month to undergo a major refurbishment. The Lake of Lucerne Paddle Steamer Unterwalden was built 106 years ago by the Zurich-based firm of Escher Wyss. Remarkably, the steamer is still operating with its original boilers, although due to their condition, the steam pressure has been reduced in recent years. The Swiss paddle steamers are regularly visited by members of the PSPS Scottish Branch and both enthusiast and crew members from the Swiss fleets visit the Clyde-based paddler. Useful information on the preservation of paddle steamers in the 21st Century has been shared between the operators in Switzerland and the UK

When the opening bridge at the Acheregg narrows was replaced by a fixed span bridge in 1961 the two oldest paddle steamers on the lake, Uri and Unterwalden, were modified to enable their funnels, masts and wheelhouses to be retracted to allow them to pass under the bridge en route to Alpnachstad, a popular destination due to the lower terminus station of the Mount Pilatus funicular railway being located there. The modification impaired the classic original lines of both vessels. When Uri was rebuilt in the early 1990s she was restored to her original condition and appearance, therefore, since that time Unterwalden has been the only one of the lakes five paddlers that has been able to go to Alpnachstad.

Unterwalden on Swiss National Day 2003 - note the huge Swiss Flag on the cliff face of Vitznaualp above the steamer

Unterwalden was withdrawn from service in 1975 and replaced by a modern motorship of the same name. At the time her owners, SGV (The Lake Lucerne Navigation Co), had intended to gradually replace the remaining paddlers with new vessels. However, local enthusiasts lobbied for the paddler to be restored and returned to service. Eventually, ten years after her withdrawal, the Unterwalden returned to service and for a few years two paddlers were able to go to Alpnachstad again. When she was returned to service in 1985 it was estimated that her then 83 year old boiler plant still had significant life and this has been borne out.
The upcoming major refit, which will be undertaken in the covered building hall at the SGV’s own shipyard in Lucerne, will probably see the Unterwalden restored to something close to her original 1902 design but this will be complicated by the desire to maintain the ability of the vessel to pass under the bridge at the Acheregg Narrows.

Stuart Cameron

New Hull for Dunkirk Veteran Paddler "Medway Queen"

Major Step in Restoration of Dunkirk Veteran
(Words by Gavin Stewart, Photos from Author's Collection)

In the last week or so news has emerged that Paddle Steamer Medway Queen is to have a new hull built by David Abels (Boatbuilders) of Bristol.

Partnership funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Medway Queen Preservation Society has provided the finance required to carry out this 1st and major step in the restoration of this famous little paddler.

The new hull will be of all rivetted construction - the first time a hull such as this has been built in England for fifty years. More details are available if you follow the link at the end of this article.

A bit of history behind the vessel:

ps Medway Queen was built in 1924 by Ailsa Shipbuilding Ltd at Troon on the Firth of Clyde for service on the River Medway. During peace time she gave pleasure cruise in the river and surrounding waters. When WWII broke out the vessel evacuated children from Kent to East Anglia before joining the Admiralty as a minesweeper - paddlesteamers are ideal for this roled due to their shallow draft (depth below the waterline).

She was also part of the huge fleet of little ships who assisted at the Dunkirk Evacuations in 1940 - Medway Queen evacuating 7000 men over seven return trips - shooting down enemy aircraft in the process!!! In recognition of this huge achievement she honoured with four gallantry awards.

After the war she was reconditioned and returned to service. In 1953 she attended the Coronation Fleet Review (see picture above). How many flags can you possibly get on one little ship!!

Medway Queen continued to give sterling service to her owners until she was withdrawn in 1963. The photo below is believed to show the ship on her last cruise to Southend-on-Sea.

Various static roles followed with varying success until being taken over by the Medway Queen Preservation Society who have saved her from certain demolition and through hard work and determination have gained the support (financial and otherwise) to get the project to this current stage.

So hats off to the Medway Queen Preservation Society and on behalf of the Scottish Branch of the PSPS - CONGRATULATIONS!!!

For detailed information on ps Medway Queen - including how to join them - please go to their website here.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Class of 2008

Well folks, thats Waverley's Clyde Summer Season at an end already. Its been a mixed bag of a season - especially weather wise - but amidst the numerous challenges our ship and her crew have remained positive and worked hard.
The ship is now heading to the South Coast of England for her annual sailings on the South Coast, Solent & Thames.

The shot above was taken at Tighnabruaich on Sat 30th August by long time volunteer and branch member Alistair Black. Alistair has a special place for Waverley as his grandfather worked for Waverley's engine maker Rankin & Blackmore as a brass finisher and worked on the very engine you can still see in operation today!!

Finally a special mention must go to Capt Andy O'Brian (centre of photo), Senior Master of the company who has rose to the challenge that is the 2008 season.

Thanks guys!!

Gavin Stewart