2021 AGM Minutes

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

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DRAFT Minutes of the 34th Annual General Meeting of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society held at Renfield Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow at 13:30 on Saturday 16th October 2021.

Present: John Allen (Chairman) and 50 other members.

1. Welcome

Murray Paterson, Chairman of the Scottish Branch of the Society welcomed members to the meeting and introduced the Chairman, John Allen.

The Chairman also extended a welcome to all those present.  He noted that normal meetings of the Society had been suspended over the last year, but four successful online events had taken place.  It is intended to hold a mixture of online and face-to-face meetings over the coming winter.  Even better, it had been possible to sail on both of the paddle steamers.

The Chairman noted with regret the deaths of John Anderson, a long-serving General Secretary and Vice President of the Society, and Andrew Gladwell, who had established the archive at Chatham and had done much as Archivist to bring about a more professional approach to its management.

The Chairman read a message from Douglas McGowan, President of the Society, who was unable to be present.  The President noted the progress made with Medway Queen and Maid of the Loch and expressed his pleasure at being able to sail on both Kingswear Castle and Waverley during the course of the year.  He thanked the Trustees of the Society for their hard work, with special mention of Paul Semple and his team for returning Waverley to service in the most challenging circumstances.

2. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from 25 members.

3. Minutes of the 33rd Annual General Meeting

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

4. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising not covered by the agenda.

5. Reports of the Council of Management and Reporting Accountants and the Society’s financial statements for the year ended 31st December 2020

The Report of the Council of Management had been published on the Society’s website and was taken as read.  National Treasurer, Martin Longhurst, highlighted the principal features of the accounts, particularly:

  • Net income of £208,000 (2019: Net expenditure £343,000)
  • Underlying net cash inflow of £130,000
  • Support for Waverley £134,000 (2019: £803,000)
  • Archive Collection revalued by £77,000 to reflect its real worth

He also explained how the Society’s funds had been reassessed in accordance with modern accounting practice, so that only funds specifically donated for Kingswear Castle, Waverley or the Archive are regarded as restricted.

The Chairman expressed his appreciation for the work of Martin Longhurst, not just as National Treasurer, but in making sure the Society complied with company and charity law and other applicable regulations.

6. PS Kingswear Castle Report

John Megoran reported that Kingswear Castle had had a busy season, working from mid-May to the end of September, mainly on one hour cruises from Dartmouth.  There are many benefits from operation by the Dart Company, including being part of an organisation experienced in running steam engines and passenger vessels.  There are young and enthusiastic staff, with training schemes and apprentices.

John Megoran outlined plans for the rebuild of Kingswear Castle and how funds for this are being raised.  Some work had already started and it was intended that the rebuild would be completed by the vessel’s centenary in 2024.

In response to Iain Quinn, John Megoran said that the funds held by PS Kingswear Castle Trust (PSKCT) had largely come from the Society, but some was reserves from previous trading.  A more ambitious appeal document was planned; the initial appeal leaflet was designed for local use in information racks.  It is intended to have a further fund-raising initiative at the start of the 2022 season and there may be some large donations from individuals in the West Country.

John Robertson asked whether the UK Government or local authorities might support Kingswear Castle in the same way that the Scottish Government had been generous to Waverley.  John Megoran regretted that this was unlikely and, because PSKCT was not operating the steamer itself, it was not able to commit to some of the conditions that some funding bodies, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, might require.

The Chairman encouraged members to take a trip on Kingswear Castle and thanked John Megoran, PSKCT and Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company for their efforts.

7. PS Waverley Report

Paul Semple, General Manager of Waverley Excursions Limited, reported on an eventful and challenging year.  He outlined the work undertaken during winter 2020/21, including the repairs to Waverley’s bow and a wide range of other work to the vessel.  After four days of sea and berthing trials, Waverley entered service on the Clyde on 29 June, with the intention of operating there until 22 August.  The start was five days later than planned, because of problems with crew availability, which remained a serious issue throughout the season.  This eventually led to the regretful decision that the vessel would not operate beyond the Clyde, because there was a high risk that it could not remain adequately crewed.  In view of this the Clyde season was extended.  Two permanent deck officers are now in post, but recruiting engineering staff remains a challenge.

Waverley operated on 71 days, with seven sailings cancelled for technical reasons.  52,409 passenger journeys were recorded, generating revenue of over £1.2 million.  The visit to Ardrishaig on 15 August was a particular highlight.  The biggest expenses were crew wages and costs at £351,000 and fuel at £252,000.  Figures are still provisional, but a surplus has been earned, though not enough to get through the winter.

Paul Semple concluded by outlining work planned for the coming winter, both on Waverley and fund-raising.  The Friends of Waverley giving scheme was successful and it is intended to grow this further, as well as having a 75th Anniversary appeal.  He noted that Waverley’s directors would be holding a strategy day to consider how the ship could be kept operating.

John Beveridge asked about plans for the 2022 season and Paul Semple said the ambition is to operate from May to October, visiting all areas.  James Anderson asked if Waverley might go south in May or June.  Paul Semple replied that crewing could be difficult earlier in the season, as well as later.  If the length of the operating period is known well in advance, which had not been the case this year, that should make recruitment easier.

Jeremy Gold asked about the planned strategy day and whether a more restricted operation might be considered.  Paul Semple said that it made sense to consider all options, but there is no indication that the Marine & Coastguard Agency would require any change to the scope of Waverley’s operations.  Derek Peters, Chairman of Waverley Steam Navigation Company, added that the Waverley boards have the target of keeping Waverley in service until her centenary and are looking at what can be done, particularly within the next five years, to achieve that.  How Waverley is funded is an issue and it must be recognised that she is now nearer to her next rebuild than the previous one.

The Chairman expressed his pleasure at being able to sail on Waverley in 2021 and thanked Paul Semple, his staff and the ship’s crew for all their efforts in a very difficult year.

8. PS Maid of the Loch Report

Jim Mitchell reported on progress with Maid of the Loch, emphasising the need to prioritise inspection and repair of the hull.  A new slipway cradle had been constructed, following which the vessel had been successfully moved onto the slip on 14 July.  It is planned that she will remain there for a year or so.  Ultrasonic testing of the hull showed that the bow area is particularly in need of repair.  The boiler room has been stripped for repair, with the fuel and sewage tanks removed.  New material has to be brought in through a temporary slot in the hull.  The paddle wheels will be overhauled while Maid of the Loch is out of the water.  Hard hat tours of the ship are running until 7 November and there is a 1950s ship building exhibition in a temporary building.  A replacement whistle has been obtained for the ship and it is intended to paint her in something like her original livery, but with the gardenia cream shade for the hull, as used on Waverley.

The Chairman congratulated all concerned on the progress that had been made.

9. Other Paddlers

Medway Queen: The Chairman reported that Medway Queen is on the slipway at Ramsgate having much-needed maintenance carried out.

Monarch: The Chairman reported that discussions are under way concerning possible involvement by the Society to secure the future of this vessel.

Ryde: The Chairman reported that Ryde is likely to be cut up, but it is hoped that as much as possible will be salvaged, including her machinery.

10. Archive

David Green reported by pre-recorded video, describing the wide variety of material that had been acquired during the year.  He outlined progress on cataloguing by Richard Clammer and Mike Tedstone.  Work had started on the very large project to scan drawings and handbills.  Investigations are under way to ensure there is enough digital storage space for all this material.  Additional racking has been installed at Chatham to store all of the additional items that have been acquired.  Duplicated, non-accessioned books have been outsorted for disposal, to create more space.  Re-organisation of the handbill and slides and negatives collections is under way.  Some items from the collection are now illustrated on the Society’s website, with more to follow.  Waverley Steam Navigation Co had been able to make use of scanned drawings and photographs of Waverley, and information had also been provided to film companies.  David Green concluded by thanking all those who assisted with management of the archive.

John Beveridge noted that very limited space remains available at Chatham and asked what was being done about this.  Martin Longhurst said that David Green is looking at options, but there are no formal proposals yet.

The Chairman thanked David Green and his team for their work, and said that this should extend to David’s wife, Heather.

11. Receipt of Reports

John Beveridge proposed and Tony Gamblin seconded that the Reports of the Council of Management and Reporting Accountant and the Society’s Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2020 be accepted.  This was approved unanimously.

12. Membership of the Council of Management      

It was noted that Peter Morley has been re-elected unopposed to the Council of Management.

13. Subscriptions

Ian Loudon proposed and Anne Urquhart seconded that the subscription rates set out in the Notice of the Meeting (shown below) be adopted.  This was approved unanimously.

ExistingProposedIncrease% IncreaseAnnualised (%)
Ordinary Couple£34£38£411.762.35
Senior Citizen£18£22£422.224.44
Senior Citizen Couple£27£32£518.523.70
Young Person£10£10£00.000.00
Joint Life£1,100£1,230£13011.82

14. Conclusion and thanks

The Chairman paid tribute to the tireless work of the Council of Management and its Executive Sub Committee.  He particularly thanked

  • Peter Morley for hosting on-line meetings using Microsoft Teams and for his other technical support
  • Myra Allen for editing Paddle Wheels and Gordon Wilson for arranging its distribution
  • Roy Tait for managing and developing the Society’s website over the last eight years; he is stepping down and will be a hard act to follow
  • Gordon Wilson and the Scottish branch for organising the Annual General Meeting

In closing the meeting, the Chairman also thanked all present for their attendance.  He noted that despite the pandemic, good things had happened in the world of paddle steamers and the Society had made progress.  This depended on the support and donations of members and so long as that continues, good things will continue.

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

Jeremy Gold asked why the donations page of the Society website gave no option for donating to the general purposes of the Society.

Martin Longhurst responded that the website mirrors what is on the membership renewal form.  There is no particular need for general fund raising, with efforts concentrated on Waverley and Kingswear Castle.  However, the matter would be considered by the Council of Management.

Jeremy Gold noted that the membership renewal form is seen only by members, whereas the website is available to the general public, so worth considering differently.

No other matters were raised.