PS Waverley

PS Waverley

The paddle steamer "Waverley" is the last operational Clyde steamer, and the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. Named after Sir Walter Scott's first novel, the Waverley regularly sails from Glasgow and other towns on the Firth of Clyde, the Thames, the South Coast of England and the Bristol Channel; as well as making more infrequent excursions from other British ports.


The "Waverley" was built in 1946 as a replacement for an earlier PS "Waverley" of 1899 that took part in the WW II war effort as a minesweeper and was sunk in 1940 while helping with the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk. The new 693-tonne steamer was launched in October 1946 at builders A & J Inglis, Glasgow, and entered service in June 1947. She was built for the London & North Eastern Railway Company to sail on their Firth of Clyde steamer route from Craigendoran Pier, near Helensburgh, up Loch Long to Arrochar, and in her first year in service, she wore that company's red, white and black funnel colours. In 1948 nationalisation of Britain's railway companies brought the steamers under the control of the Caledonian Steam Packet Company (CSP), a subsidiary of the Railway Executive, and the funnels were repainted yellow with a black top. In 1965 a Scottish red lion rampant was fixed to each side of both funnels, and her hull was painted monastral blue until 1970.

After a revival of pre-war fortunes in the 1950s, the 1960s saw a gradual change in holiday habits leading to a decline in passenger numbers, and the closure of many of the small piers. Since 1969, and the formation of the Scottish Transport Group, the CSP had been gradually merging with the West Highland shipping and ferry company David MacBrayne Ltd, and in 1973 the company became Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd.


The "Waverley" was withdrawn after the 1973 season as too costly to operate and in need of significant expenditure. By then the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS) had been set up as a registered UK charity, and had acquired the near-derelict small River Dart paddler PS "Kingswear Castle". Caledonian MacBrayne, keen to ensure that the ship was preserved, sold the "Waverley" to the PSPS for the token sum of one pound (GBP). Neither side really believed that the vessel would return to steam, but just in case, Caledonian MacBrayne stipulated that she should not sail in competition with their remaining cruise vessel, TS "Queen Mary". A public appeal was launched to secure funding for the return of the Waverley to service and the fund-raising operation was successful. The PSPS found themselves running a cruise ship operation: "Waverley Excursions".

Since then the "Waverley" has been joined in the PSPS fleet by PS "Kingswear Castle" and MV "Balmoral", and has had a series of extensive refits and a lot of restoration work, including a new boiler and improvements to meet modern safety standards. She has circumnavigated Britain and every year carries out extensive sailings around the country.

Between 2000 and 2003 the ship underwent a substantial rebuild, funded principally by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This major exercise took place in two stages at the shipyard of George Prior at Great Yarmouth and has succeeded in returning the ship to her original 1947 condition.

Damage to Worthing Pier

On 15 September 2008, The Waverly was involved in minor damage to Worthing Pier after the steamer berthed and secured lines to the pier bollards, when part of the landing stage became dislodged and the ship had to depart without taking on passengers. No damage was sustained to the steamer, and the only damage to the pier was that a length of timber was pulled out. [cite web |url= |title=paddle steamer crashes into pier|accessdate=2008-09-16|work=BBC News]


The steamer has noticeable red, white and black funnels with a traditional brown grained ( or "scumbled") superstructure and black paddle wheel boxes, decorated with gold lettering on each side. The ship's operators claim the Waverley is "probably the most photographed ship in the world". [cite web |url= |title= Waverley |accessdate=2007-09-14 |work= Waverley Excursions]

The Waverley is powered by a triple-expansion, three-crank diagonal steam engine (made by Rankin & Blackmore, Engineers, Eagle Foundry, Greenock, Scotland), which is rated at 2,100 IHP and achieved a trial speed of 18.37 knots at 57.8 rpm. Passengers can watch these engines from passageways on each side of the engine room."Down to see the Engines", ©. 1985 Waverley Excursions Ltd.]



* McCrorie, Ian (1986). "Clyde Pleasure Steamers". Greenock: Orr, Pollock & Co. ISBN 1-869850-00-9.


External links

* [ Waverley Excursions]
* [ Paddle Steamer Preservation Society]
* [ Waverley supporters website]
* [ Paddle Steamer Waverley's Engines]
* [ Waverley Photographs taken in Glasgow]

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