Scotland: 1988 will be remembered as the fourth and probably the wettest in a succession of disagreeable summers. There were late July gales so strong that the sailing to Brodick on 25th had to be cancelled. The weather obviously took its toll on loadings. By and large Waverley performed like clockwork. Spare parts for a circulating pump arrived on board as she was sailing from Glasgow to Ayr, lowering a lifeboat off McInroy’s Point and taking delivery in this unorthodox fashion.
Bristol Channel: Balmoral returned for the main season and as the season wore on the weather became vicious at times with all sailings cancelled on 24th, 25th, 28th, July and 31st August and 1st September. However the summer turned out to be a success, Several hundred were carried every day on a varied programme of cruises. Tenby calls produced good traffic in August. August Bank Holiday saw some of the most extreme tidal conditions for several years but the schedule was maintained even though there was water within an inch or two of the top of the dock wall at Bristol and later no water within a foot or two of Ilfracombe Pier.
Ulster: Excursion cruises returned to Belfast Lough for the first time since 1949. The programme provided by Balmoral was more ambitious than the trips of long ago and ranged northwards to Red Bay and southwards into Strangford Lough with a final single day serving Warrenpoint. The first cruise was to Portaferry and Killyleagh, the first time in living memory that a commercial passenger vessel has visited the latter. The outstanding sight of the week must have been the narrows at the mouth of Strangford Lough.
South Coast: The visit was dominated by sunshine, calm seas and good passenger numbers. The week prior to Waverley’s arrival was full of gales. However, Waverley was able to leave Rosslare in time to arrive at Bournemouth soon after 9am on 4th September. for the sailing to Swanage and Weymouth. The previous day’s sailing had been cancelled. The sailing was the first call at Swanage for Waverley and the first time a paddler had tied up at the pier since Embassy 22 years earlier.
Ramsgate Week: The 2nd Ramsgate Paddle Steamer Week got off to a fine start on 18th September with the model ships rally. Monday was John Huntley’s showing of Paddle Steamers in Camera to a large and appreciative house. Tuesday brought Waverley’s first Ramsgate sailing. Some 300 joined for Folkestone and Dungeness – over 160 boarded during Waverley’s maiden call at Folkstone. With the weekend came the first Medway sailing to meet KC, and Waverley’s final departure from Ramsgate on Sunday with 365 aboard for the one way sailing to Tower Pier. Whitstable was reached in good time and brought 170, Southend turned out 260 more and it was a well filled steamer that made her first passage of the season up London’s river.
Kingswear Castle: Successful but not outstanding probably sums up the summer. The number of party bookings is significantly up with coach bookings up nearly 20%. One highlight was the filming of a scene for “Around the World in 80 Days”. KC plays the part of the French packet vessel Le Bonheure. The scene was shot at Thunderbolt Pier.
Paddle steamer room opens – Loan of items from the Society’s collection form part of the Paddle Steamer Room at Margate’s Museum of History, opened in readiness for the Spring Bank Holiday. The large working models of Royal Sovereign and Royal Eagle remain permanently there as the centerpiece.
And 50 years ago… Farewell Medway Queen; Jeanie Deans‘ best season; Consul returns to the Thames. Read more…