30 Year Look Back – Waverley’s 1990 Season

Supporting the preservation and operation of paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle

30 Year Look Back – Waverley’s 1990 Season

Waverley’s 1990 season began at Easter on the Clyde and finished in mid October on the Bristol Channel. A total of just over 191,000 passenger journeys were recorded for the season, just short of the 192,000 recorded the season before.

The total passenger journeys recorded for both Waverley and Balmoral in 1990 showed an increase to over 311,000 from 301,000 in 1989 with Balmoral seeing a 10% increase in loadings. Iain MacLeod when penning his Waverley¬†Diary for the winter 1990 issue of Paddle Wheels titled his article “Good season as the planners get it right”.

There was a delay in publishing the 1990 National Timetable for both Waverley and Balmoral. The final printed timetable didn’t contain the early season since by the time of printing several sailings had already taken place.

Waverley’s Easter weekend sailings saw her sail to Rothesay on Good Friday, the Kyles on Saturday, round Bute on Sunday and Brodick on Easter Monday. The following weekend she undertook special cruises to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the turbine steamer Duchess of Montrose. On Saturday 21st April Waverley sailed from Gourock to Inveraray and on the Sunday from Gourock to Ailsa Craig.

Page 1 of the National timetable which included Waverley’s sailings for the Bournemouth 40’s Festival, the Brighton Festival and special sailings to mark the 50th anniversary of Dunkirk.

The cover of the National Timetable states clearly that sailings were “Sponsored by Glasgow District Council”. This statement accounting for the ¬£31,800 grant.

Waverley had further special cruises in 1990 when she attended the Brighton Festival in May sailing from the marina. Given the tight confines of Brighton marina she needed some assistance when manoeuvring and this was provided by two small craft (the ex-Newhaven pilot boat and a workboat belonging to a contractor working in the marina).

Waverley manoeuvring in Brighton Marina.Tony Horn

A series of cruises in late May 1990 took place to mark the 50th anniversary of Operation Dynamo with Waverley sailing to Dunkirk on a reduced passenger certificate. The first of these took place on Thursday 24th May when she accompanied the “little ships” from Dover.

On Sunday 27th May 150 were aboard for the crossing to view the Beaches Remembrance Service at Dunkirk. The following day she left Ramsgate with over 800 on a chartered sailing to meet the “little ships” returning from Dunkirk.

A ticket for the cruise from Dover with the “little ships” as they sailed for Dunkirk.

Waverley in Ramsgate during her special sailings to commemorate Operation Dynamo. She is seen with an array of historic house flags representing the companies who had vessels that took part in the 1940 evacuation.

Information for the cruises Waverley offered to welcome the “little ships” back on 28th May 1990.

Following the Dunkirk commemorations Waverley departed Ramsgate at 2am on 29th May for Barry, South Wales and the start of her Bristol Channel sailings. During her Bristol Channel programme several charters were undertaken with three from Milford Haven including one cruise on 3rd June to view Grassholm, Skomer and Skokholm.

Waverley returned to the Clyde on 19th June in time to operate two days of schools cruises before starting her regular public sailings on 22nd June. The main Clyde season saw the familiar pattern of cruises with weekend sailings from Glasgow and mid-week from Ayr. During the 1990 season the weekly Sunday cruise saw her sailing round Bute.

The 1990 Bristol Channel timetable with Waverley operating sailings in June and October, Balmoral covering the main programme in July and August.

Owing to winter storm damage Helensburgh pier was closed but a connection was offered by chartering CalMac’s MV Keppel from Gourock and Helensburgh to Kilcreggan each Saturday. On 25th July Queen Elizabeth 2 visited the Clyde berthing at Greenock’s Container Terminal and Waverley was chartered to view the Cunard liner.

Waverley unusually berthed at the western end of Rothesay pier during the 1990 season.

Page 2 of the National Timetable giving Balmoral’s Scottish spring sailings, Waverley’s main Clyde season in addition to Balmoral’s Liverpool, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and North Wales sailings.

Waverley heads down river passing under the Erskine Bridge during her 1990 main summer season on the Clyde. For the 1990 summer season Waverley carried banners on the forward railings visible under the lifeboats stating “Glasgow Cultural Capital of Europe 1990 Home of the WaverleyBert Scott

Waverley’s Clyde season ended on Monday 27th August with a bank holiday sailing to Arran. She then departed Glasgow at 2345 just 1 hour 25 minutes after her last passengers disembarked and was off to Plymouth in plenty of time for undertaking a charter on 31st August before starting her South Coast programme.

The South Coast and Thames timetable.

The final passenger sailing of the 1990 season took place on the 14th October with a sailing from Clevedon and Penarth to Minehead and Porlock Bay. Waverley was full on the Penarth – Minehead leg with 544 passengers disembarking at the Somerset town. The following day she was laid up at Narrow Quay, Bristol.

1990 Season Stats

  • Passenger Journeys – Waverley 191,201, (Balmoral 120,479)
  • Days in passenger service – 143 – comprising Clyde – 66, Western Isles – 10, South Coast – 30, Bristol Channel – 21, Thames – 16
  • Charter Sailings – 21
  • Waverley’s first wedding – Friday 24th August (The bridegroom was a junior apprentice at A&J Inglis when Waverley was launched)

Winter 1990-91

There were several occasions during the 1990 season when paddle wheel trouble had caused some alterations to the timetable. On the 30th October Waverley arrived at Avonmouth Old Dock where her paddle wheels would be rebuilt. It would be the following year before she returned home to Glasgow.

Waverley’s port paddle box in December 1990 without a paddle wheel when they were rebuilt.