2017 AGM Minutes

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

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Minutes of the 30th Annual General Meeting of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society held at 13:30 on 18th November 2017 at the Pierhead Building at the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay.

Present: Iain Dewar and 39 other members of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society were present.

1. Welcome

Iain Dewar welcomed members to the meeting, thanking Simon Thomas AM and Assembly Staff for the accommodation and the Bristol Channel Branch for their assistance. He was applauded for doing so in Welsh as well as English.

2. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from eight members.

3. Minutes of the 29th 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 2016

The Chairman introduced the Report of the Council of Management and it was agreed to receive this nem con. Martin Longhurst introduced the Report of the Reporting Accountant and the Society’s financial statements for the year ending 31st December 2016 and it was agreed to receive these nem con.

Dave Bassett brought along this painting of the venue in the good old days.

6. PS Kingswear Castle Report

John Megoran reported that winter work on Kingswear Castle had included repairs to the low pressure cylinder, pending replacement in 2018, and machining the crankshaft. The boiler will be twenty years old in 2020 and consideration is being given to work that will be needed on it.

Operation on the River Dart has continued, benefitting from the excellent team at Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company.

7. PS Waverley Report

Paul Semple reported on behalf of Waverley Steam Navigation Company Limited. 2017 had been another challenging year, resulting from poor weather, damage to a paddle wheel at Portree, failure of the air pump in July and contact with the promenade at Rothesay in August. Positives were that it had been possible to manage the financial consequences and there had been significant support through donations and bequests. There had been strong commitment by the ship’s crew and office staff, who had had to work hard to deal with the incidents. The seventieth anniversary of Waverley’s maiden voyage had produced favourable publicity. Dry docking had proceeded well, with fine weather assisting outside work. Both the Society nationally and the Scottish branch had funded elements of the refit cost.

The damage and technical problems had had a significant impact on operations and financial results. Only 84 days had operated out of 116 planned, down from 107 in 2016. Provisional figures showed passenger journeys down by a third and income by about a quarter.

The Scottish branch charter cruise on Waverley had been a success, due to healthy advance ticket sales, even though the weather was disappointing. It was on the return to Keppel and Largs that the air pump failed, reducing speed by a half. Waverley had then been off-service at Largs for eleven days, which was much longer than expected at the outset, as a number of technical solutions were unsuccessful.

Paul Semple delivering the Waverley report.

Following the incident at Rothesay it was fortunately possible for Waverley to go straight to dry dock for repairs. However, sailings at the end of the peak Clyde season, from Liverpool and on the Bristol Channel were missed while work was under way. The cost of the repair is covered by insurance, but loss of revenue is not.

South Coast sailings were badly affected by weather, but the Thames visit had been very successful. Several days on the Thames were sold out and there was increased publicity on social media. Weather had delayed the return to Glasgow, so the final Clyde weekend had not operated.

Following experiences in 2017, the company recognises that improvements are needed in communicating with customers.

Vic Emery OBE has succeeded David Kells as Chairman of Waverley Excursions Limited. He brings an extensive range of experience to the company. A new Marine Operations Director has also been appointed.

Dry docking is scheduled for mid-April 2018. Refit costs are not fully known at this time, but there may be an appeal to cover the cost of repairing or replacing some items that caused problems in 2017.

2018 marks the fortieth anniversary of Waverley’s sailings on the South Coast and Thames.

8. PS Maid of the Loch Report

John Beveridge, Chairman of Loch Lomond Steamship Company, reported that all of the consultants’ reports on renovation and operation of Maid of the Loch had been favourable, and had been accepted by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The only consultant now working was the fund-raiser. Currently, £4.4m has been raised of the £5.5m necessary to return the Maid to service. Meantime, volunteers continue to work on the vessel, particularly with painting and cleaning. The caterer has re-opened the restaurant, which has proved popular.

John Beveridge brought along the Maid’s wheel, recently bought at auction.

A crowd-funding campaign is under way to raise the cost of a new boiler. A video promoting this was shown, to acclaim.

9. Archive

David Green reported on a number of changes during the year. Richard Engert left the Archive Committee, to be replaced by Peter Box. It has been possible to utilise storage space at Chatham that PS Kingswear Castle Trust no longer needs, so PSPS has been able to relinquish its tenancy of other space. Andrew Medhurst spent much of last winter cataloguing photographs and David also expressed thanks to David Lawrence and Roddy McKee, who regularly visit Chatham to check the premises.

The London & Home Counties branch this year paid for conservation of some rare tracings of PS London Belle. Among acquisitions this year is a large model of PS Koningen Wilhelmina, which sailed between Flushing and Queenborough in the nineteenth century.

With 34,000 catalogued items in the archive, work continues to make it more manageable, with material split into sub-collections. This has resulted in a review, under way, of the current box storage. The mammoth task of sorting and cataloguing non-accessioned items continues.  A start has been made on sorting and cataloguing postcards and photograph albums.

Planned future developments include possible remote access to the catalogue by volunteers, making a searchable catalogue available on the internet and scanning or photographing items for the catalogue.

10. Elections to Council of Management

The meeting noted that Richard Clammer has been re-elected to the Council of Management unopposed.

11. Appointment of Reporting Accountant

The meeting approved the appointment of Peter Walker FCCA as Reporting Accountant to the Society for the year 2017 and authorised the Council of Management to fix his remuneration.

12. Special Resolutions

Martin Longhurst introduced the Special Resolutions, on behalf of the Council of Management, to amend the Society’s Articles. In respect of Special Resolution 1, Terry Sylvester asked why young persons could not vote when they were aged 16. Martin Longhurst said that this was because 18 was the age when people gained legal ability to enter into contracts. In respect of Special Resolution 3, Terry Sylvester proposed that Waverley Excursions Limited appointed a member to the Council of Management. Martin Longhurst said it was not possible to change special resolutions of which notice had been given, but Waverley Excursions and Waverley Steam Navigation work closely together and their directors largely overlap.

Special Resolution 1 (a) That Article 11(1)(d) be amended to:

(d) Young Person members who shall be under the age of 26 on their previous renewal date;

and (b) That Article 11(3)(a) be amended to (a) Young Person members under the age of 18 and Honorary Life members shall not be entitled to a vote;

was passed unanimously.

Special Resolution 2 (a) That the first line of Article 11(1) be amended to:

The membership of the Society shall consist of the following classes:

and (b) That Article 11(1)(b) be amended to: (b) Senior members, who have been admitted to this class before 31 December 2017, provided they maintain continuous membership. No further members may be admitted to this class after 31 December 2017;

was passed unanimously.

Special Resolution 3 (a) That existing Article 30 be deleted and replaced by the following:

The minimum number of members of the Council of Management shall be seven and the maximum number shall be seventeen.

and (b) That existing Article 31 be deleted and replaced by the following:

The Council of Management shall consist of members of the Society appointed as follows:

  • up to seven members of the Society elected by the members of the Society using the procedures set out in Articles 36 to 48
  • one representative appointed by WSN
  • one representative appointed by PSKCT
  • one representative appointed by Loch Lomond Steamship Company
  • one member of the Society from each Branch of the Society appointed by the Chairman of the Society on the nomination of the member’s Branch Committee in accordance with bye laws made by the Council of Management
  • up to two members appointed by the Council of Management to serve until the next annual general meeting

was passed, with one vote against.

13. Membership of the Council of Management

Iain Dewar said that John Anderson, who was unable to attend the meeting due to ill health, was standing down as Secretary of the Society after four decades. Iain paid tribute to John’s long service to the Society and expressed thanks to him. The meeting endorsed these sentiments. Iain said that Angela Johnson was to be the new Secretary.

Iain Dewar said that he was standing down as Chairman, to be succeeded by Paul Semple. He thanked members for their support and wished Paul well in his new role. He also thanked his wife, Helen, for her support and forebearance over the last four years.

Paul Semple thanked Iain Dewar for his work as Chairman. He had originally agreed to serve for three years, but had actually been Chairman for four. He had shown great commitment and been very diligent, dealing with some difficult issues.

Paul Semple said that he had time-consuming professional commitments, but intended to give as much time as he could to the Society. He intended to focus on:

  • Communication with members and potential new members
  • Stabilising the membership
  • Supporting Kingswear Castle and Waverley
  • Structure of the Society
  • Archive collection

He noted that 2019 will mark sixty years since the PSPS was formed and urged members to secure a future for the Society by encouraging friends, family or anyone who has an interest to become a member.

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

John Spears said that Waverley did not come to the Bristol Channel for long enough. John Megoran, who is one of the Society representatives on the boards of WSN and WEL, responded that it would be nice to come to the British Channel, but it is a difficult area in which to operate. The vessel needs to do what makes money, or loses least. Paul Semple, who is the other representative, said that there has been a stronger financial result since Waverley only goes south once a year, with a short period on the Bristol Channel, by comparison with the traditional month in late spring. Terry Sylvester said that the Bristol Channel branch was very successful, but it would be destroyed if Waverley does not come. The Society should tell Waverley Excursions to reflect support from local members in its schedules. Iain Dewar said that if there was not a business plan showing how Waverley could make money on the Bristol Channel it could not come. If a viable plan was submitted it would certainly be considered.

Douglas McGowan said he was pleased to see improved customer relations on Waverley, but saddened by some negative comments on Trip Advisor. Further improvement seemed necessary. John Megoran agreed that customer service is very important. Waverley faces difficulties, such as weather, which can affect the customer experience. Paul Semple said that this had been discussed by the WEL Board, which agreed that improvement is necessary, particularly provision of an explanation and apology when things go wrong. Douglas McGowan said that it was best to admit that something has gone wrong when that unfortunately happens.

Ted Davies asked where Maid of the Loch would be able to call on Loch Lomond. John Beveridge replied that the Maid could currently call at Luss and Inversnaid. Both Balmaha and Rowardennan are privately owned and in need of repair; Tarbet is completely unsuitable at present.

The informal session concluded with a talk by John Megoran on the original purchase of Kingswear Castle, with a look at many of the paddle steamers to have been withdrawn in the early days of the Society.

Outgoing Chairman Iain Dewar, with his wife Helen, leaves the meeting a happy man.

All pictures by Dave Bassett