£45,000 appeal is launched – Following the decision of Strathclyde Regional Council to give the whole of their 1976 cruising subsidy to Caledonian-MacBrayne, PSPS must raise £45,000 if Waverley is to operate next summer. A massive public appeal was launched on board Waverley, lying at Anderson Quay on February 21st. More than 200 were present. “We are facing a tremendous uphill struggle, but we are certainly not beaten yet” commented a WSN director. £15,000 towards the cost of boiler re-tubing is being provided by the Scottish Tourist Board, and a £5,000 donation has been promised by Cunningham District Council. The total Strathclyde cruising subsidy is £67,000 and CalMac said that if they did not receive the full subsidy they would not only withdraw Queen Mary II, but also would also terminate Maid of the Loch’s operations. The extent to which Waverley became a political football can also be judged from the fact that the leader of Strathclyde’s Labour Group is also a director of the Scottish Transport Group of which CalMac is a part. A report by consultants looked into cruising trends and recommended retention of Waverley on the grounds that the paddle steamer would require far less subsidy and is by far the stronger tourist attraction. Strathclyde’s decision was widely publicised and initial reports were followed by a flood of letters, the vast majority in favour of Waverley.
Kingswear Castle report – Deck caulking and paying during 1975 were mainly confined to the after raised deck, where new timber was required. One week after delivery, the 75 sq. ft. of new decking was laid and then caulked during the following two weekends. Bilges are progressing well and are being tackled in a thorough manner – scraping and cleaning, priming rusty areas, and coating all over with Storry Smithson Transhydro bitumen. Main engine work is still moving ahead and at long last the remachined rods and new steam gland bushes are ready for the circulating pump so this should soon be boxed up. The general service pump was removed to Woolwich College for overhaul and a methodical job is being carried out on this important machine.
Tattershall Castle’s new Thames role – The former Humber paddle ferry opened in her new role as a floating centre for visual arts on February 24th. Moored on the Victoria Embankment, the vessel is painted in British Rail livery from the 1950s with a buff black topped funnel. Sister vessel Wingfield Castle is also on the Thames, lying only a couple of miles downstream. Meanwhile the Humber’s last steam powered paddler Lincoln Castle was at Immingham from January 20th to February 7th for dry docking and annual overhaul.
Loch Lomond – Maid of the Loch’s passenger figures have shown a 40% increase in 1975 to 126,000, and after the boiler re-tubing in the early part of the year this was the first trouble free season for some time. At the end of November she was used in a TV documentary on the life of Joseph Conrad. Some repainting took place and her name was changed to Melita. Smoke canisters were used to create the impression of being in steam but these caught fire and resulted in a large hole being burned in the side of the funnel – damage subsequently repaired.