2019 AGM Minutes

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

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Draft Minutes of the 32nd Annual General Meeting of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society held at 13:30 on 26th October 2019 at the Mercure Southampton Dolphin Hotel, Southampton.

Present: Peter Morley, Interim National Chairman, and 60 other members of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society were present.

1. Welcome

Chris Warren, Chairman of the Wessex and Dart Branch, welcomed members. Peter Morley opened the meeting noting that 2019 had been a remarkable year in that over £3.0 million had been raised for paddle steamer preservation. He said that this was an amazing achievement, of which the Society could be proud.

2. Professor Alan Robinson

Chris Phillips spoke in tribute to the Society’s founder, Professor Alan Robinson who had died, aged 99, on 29 August 2019. Without his initiative and timely intervention sixty years earlier, the Society’s preservation achievements would not have been possible. Peter Morley thanked Chris Phillips for his address.

3. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from 14 members.

4. Minutes of the 30th Annual General Meeting

The Minutes were approved and signed by the Chairman as a true record.

5. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising not covered by the agenda.

6. Reports of the Council of Management and Reporting Accountants and the Society’s financial statements for the year ended 31st December 2018

The Report of the Council of Management was circulated to the meeting. Martin Longhurst introduced the Report of the Reporting Accountant and the Society’s financial statements for the year ending 31st December 2018. He noted that there was a loss for the year, because of donations to ships. There would be a further loss in 2019, because of the level of support for Waverley, which had depleted reserves. 69% of expenditure during 2019 was in support of ships. £326,000 had been raised from members for the Waverley boiler appeal. The revised arrangements for printing and distribution of Paddle Wheels resulted in that accounting for only 6% of expenditure. Council had decided that a change in Independent Examiner was desirable and, in absence of a volunteer, had appointed Independent Examiners Limited of West Sussex.

7. PS Kingswear Castle Report

John Megoran reported on another successful year for Kingswear Castle, in which she had been National Historic Ships UK’s Flagship of the Year for the South West. Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust Limited had made a donation to the Waverley boiler appeal and had been prompted to consider the life expectancy of Kingswear Castle’s boiler. John Megoran noted that historically the working life of paddle steamer boilers had been highly variable, but it was hoped that Kingswear Castle’s boiler would be good for several more years.

John Megoran reviewed the support that PSPS had supplied to the vessel over the years and considered the challenges that lay ahead. Maintaining Kingswear Castle’s ‘grandfather rights’ to operate was essential, and it was important to maintain a good relationship with the Marine & Coastguard Agency and the Dart Valley Railway. He concluded that Kingswear Castle was maintained and operated by a great team at Dartmouth and hopefully had a long and happy future.

8. PS Waverley Report

Paul Semple started his report by thanking members for their generous support of Waverley and said they had saved the vessel again.

He outlined the work undertaken during the winter 2019 refit and described how cracks had been found in the boilers. It had been found that repairs would keep Waverley out of service for most of the summer season, with no guarantee as to the future life of the boilers. Therefore, the decision was taken to withdraw the ship from service until the boilers could be replaced. He then outlined the work that would be undertaken, with routine annual maintenance and tests being carried out currently and re-equipping the boiler room taking place between January and April 2020.

Paul Semple described the fund-raising activity and how this had demonstrated widespread interest in and support for Waverley. Over £2.0 million had been raised in five months. Donations had been received from over 8,000 individuals, with 3,000 donations being for more than £50. The participation by children in fund raising activities was noteworthy and augured well for Waverley’s future. The Scottish Government was contributing £1.00 million. Fund-raising was continuing, to achieve the required £2.3 million.

Douglas McGowan said that Paul Semple had abandoned a professional career as a science teacher to run Waverley Excursions Limited and within months had had to switch from operating the vessel to fund raising. He had done a magnificent job and deserved the Society’s hearty thanks. This was agreed with acclaim.

9. PS Maid of the Loch Report

John Beveridge presented a video showing work undertaken on Maid of the Loch between January and August 2019. Both the tea room, now known as the Queens’ Lounge, and the aft deck saloon had been extensively refurbished internally to a very high standard. They had new windows, insulation and wall and floor coverings. A lift had been installed between the decks and the ship now had a public address system and CCTV coverage. A major achievement was using a static boiler on the pier to raise steam to turn the engines. This demonstration of the engines was to be a regular feature.

John Beveridge concluded by thanking the Society for its support over the years and said that the next objective is to get the ship moving again. Peter Morley said that he was impressed by the quality of the work.

10. Other Paddlers

Monarch: Chris Warren reported that the vessel had operated during 2019, but this had been limited by the weather and tides. Monarch had been taken out of service in September in order to secure a loose cylinder liner. It is intended to operate the vessel in 2020, but it remains available for sale.

Wingfield Castle: David Haddleton reported that the steamer remains in the ownership of Hartlepool Council and is no longer open to the public. Unsurprisingly, the Council has no funds available to support the vessel. He considered that the best hope for the ship is for the Museum of the Royal Navy, at Hartlepool, to adopt her. The vessel could be used to demonstrate the role of paddle steamers in both world wars. He urged the Society to take up the cause and lobby the Museum to take the ship into their care.

11. Archive

David Green reported on major donations of archive material, including with the bell from PS Empress. Purchases had included a painting commissioned by P & A Campbell for a 1930s advertising brochure and the bell from PS Jeanie Deans. The latter had been funded by the Scottish Branch and it was hoped that the bell could be displayed on Waverley.

Visits had been made to Felixstowe Museum and Southend Pier Museum to renew loan agreements, and had resulted in additional material being displayed at both. A significant amount of archive material had been used in the sixtieth anniversary book and video. Cataloguing the collection and scanning photographs continued as major exercises. The postcard collection had been reorganised. Work is under way collating Central Committee and Council of Management papers.

David Green concluded by thanking all those who assist with archive work, particularly Peter Box, Richard Clammer, Richard Danielson, Jon Joliffe and David Lawrence.

12. Chairman’s Report

Peter Morley summarised the events of the year, particularly noting that Paul Semple had stood down as PSPS Chairman to become General Manager of Waverley Excursions Limited, though he remains a Council member. He said that he and Gordon Wilson had been sharing the role of Chairman since then.

Peter Morley reported that Martin Longhurst would be standing down as Treasurer in three years’ time, having made an immeasurable contribution to the Society. He recorded his thanks and asked potential successors to come forward. He also noted that David Haddleton was standing down from the Council, which had benefited from his considerable knowledge of charitable and not for profit organisations, and thanked him for his work.

Chris Larkin and Keith Adams had been welcomed to the Council, representing the London & Home Counties and Wessex & Dart branches respectively. Peter Morley thanked Greg Beecroft for taking minutes of Council meetings. David Green had made an immense effort on consolidating and cataloguing the Archive.

Kingswear Castle had been working in most excellent condition on the Dart, for which thanks must go to John Megoran and the Dart Valley Railway. The donation to the Waverley boiler appeal was most generous.

A massive milestone had been achieved with Maid of the Loch, with the interior refurbishment and turning the engines by steam. This was a very significant achievement by John Beveridge and his team.

Peter Morley thanked Council members for their work, including Angela Johnson as PSPS Secretary and Gordon Wilson as Membership Secretary and Deputy Chairman. Thanks were due to the Wessex & Dart branch for arranging the meeting, particularly Chris Phillips and Keith Adams.

Peter Morley drew attention to the Sixtieth Anniversary book and DVD, which were on sale, and thanked Richard Clammer for his work on these.

Peter Morley thanked Myra Allen for her hard work in producing Paddle Wheels. This is an excellent magazine and the A4 format is working well.

In conclusion, Peter Morley looked forward to a successful year ahead.

The meeting received the Chairman’s and other reports with acclaim.

13. Elections to Council of Management

The meeting noted that Jon Jolliffe and Martin Longhurst had been re-elected to the Council of Management unopposed.

Following the closure of the formal meeting there was an Open Forum:

  • Charlie Brown suggested that the Prince of Wales be approached to become a Royal Patron of the Society and that Johnnie Walker Whisky sponsors Waverley. Peter Morley said that the Council of Management would consider these proposals.
  • Jeremy Gold thanked Peter Morley for taking over as Interim Chairman and hoped that the ‘Interim’ would now be dropped. He noted that Paul Semple had made some changes, but reiterated the need to review Waverley’s business plan. He asked whether the deck crew were likely to return to the vessel. Paul Semple said he hoped that they would do so.
  • Jeremy Gold said that Cameron Marshall and Derek Peters deserve thanks for their work on becoming directors of Waverley Excursions. They bring deep knowledge of Waverley and considerable business experience to the Company. The contribution that their predecessors had made also needed to be recognised.
  • Jeremy Gold said that environmental concerns could threaten the future operation of Kingswear Castle, Waverley and Maid of the Loch and consideration needed to be given to the issue.
  • Greg Beecroft noted that Waverley Excursions staff had done sterling work, particularly after Waverley was withdrawn from service. The meeting expressed its thanks for their contribution.

Following the meeting there was a film show of historic paddle steamers by Richard Turner, showing key moments in the Society’s history and a selection of films shot by Professor Alan Robinson. Victor Gray opened this session, speaking of the Society’s early days, but noting that this had been one of the most positive Society meetings he had attended.