Scottish Branch news – A party of 40 members and friends spent an enjoyable day sailing on the Glasgow Corporation sludge vessel SS Shieldhall down the Clyde to Garroch Head on the Isle of Bute. Members of the party were allowed on the bridge and into the engine room to see the fascinating reciprocating machinery.
London members cruise under sail – On September 30th a small group arrived at Gravesend on a fine day with a fair breeze. With the Society flag flying, the sailing barge May set sail with a good flowing ebb tide. Coffee was served as we passed Thames Haven and Captain Martin tacked constantly until we arrived at Sea Reach and the Chapman light, a familiar feature on the Stirling prints of Eagle Steamers. Arriving at Southend, the May sailed for Sheerness over the course of the Medway Queen, the trip continuing as far as the wreck of the Richard Montgomery. A quick passage was made back to Gravesend.
News around the coasts – The 1972 summer season is over and operators are, no doubt, making plans for next year. For the first time, the number of Class III excursion vessels can be counted on one hand. Three, King George V, Queen Mary II and Waverley are steamers and two, Balmoral and Bournemouth Queen are motor vessels. Members who managed to travel on all five can count themselves lucky for the prospects of them remaining in service much longer are not good.
Bristol Channel – White Funnel Fleet, the name under which P & A Campbell Ltd advertise Balmoral’s sailings, is a misnomer these days. Nonetheless a casual visitor to the Bristol Channel might well be forgiven for thinking that the Balmoral was more than one ship, so wide-ranging was her timetable this year. In common with most operators, Campbell’s had a miserable June, often carrying only a handful of passengers from Swansea, but July and August produced many good loads.
Firth of Clyde – Waverley has deputised for Queen Mary II on half a dozen occasions – when she runs on the Queen Mary II’s roster there is little, if any, time allowed ashore, particularly at Campbeltown. Waverley herself has hardly been absent, but she missed the first Arrochar sailing on 1st June, and a few sleepless nights must have been spent working on her wooden floats to keep her wheels turning. One bright feature of the excursion programme has been the Showboat cruises, made possible by the new conditions of service negotiated with the CSP officers. One drizzly evening Waverley had 600 aboard and on fine nights numbers were nearer the complement of about 1,000. The public is becoming increasingly aware of Waverley’s status – just try standing near her plaque which the PSPS presented to find out this fact. More intensive advertising is required throughout the UK because the potential is there.
Tees – Restoration work on the paddle tug John H Amos has progressed well. All external metalwork from the waterline upwards has been repainted in original colours. Some repair work to the funnel and starboard paddle box has been done free of charge by ICI welders. The machinery comprises the only example remaining in Britain of double-compound (four cranks) and the running parts are unusually massive for a vessel of her size. It is hoped that the John H Amos will attract considerable numbers of visitors.