Jim McFadzean 1946 – 2023

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

Jim McFadzean 1946 – 2023

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It is with great regret that we report the death of “Jimmy Tickets” who served as Waverley’s purser from 1988 until 2010. He was a great asset to the ship and the Waverley company, always willing to go the extra mile.

He died on Tuesday 18 April 2023 in Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary after a short illness.  We offer our deepest sympathy to his sister Janet and other members of the McFadzean family, and to his longtime partner Ian McConnell.

As a tribute , we are republishing an account of his final day as Purser in 2010, which demonstrates the high regard in which he was held.


Clyde Finale 2010 (or done pursering)

Report and pictures by Martin Longhurst

(Except where stated)

Waverley arrived back at her home berth at Pacific Quay, Glasgow, late on Thursday 14 October 2010 to prepare for her final weekend of service for 2010. This weekend would also mark the retirement of Purser Jim McFadzean after 23 seasons of service to Waverley and Balmoral.

Throughout the weekend, Jim was assisted by three Assistant Pursers – Simon Morgan, David Edwards and Paul Semple. As there were a number of other past and present Pursers on board, a group photograph was called for!

Back row L to R: Simon Morgan, Paul Semple, Jim McFadzean, David Edwards, Tony Gamblin
Front row Campbell Scott, Gary Stephenson, Scott Adam (Picture by Ashley Gill)

At Blairmore Pier, the Chairman of the Pier Trust presented Purser Jim with a Certificate of Life Membership, a handsome decorated cake, a Blairmore mug and a Blairmore teddy!

At Kilcreggan, Jim said hello on the ship’s PA to “four young ladies” who, it turned out, were neighbours of his 93 year old mother who lives nearby.

Signal flags spell out Jim’s initials

Unfortunately Sunday’s weather was a bit damper and colder but this did not dampen the spirits of those who had come to say goodbye to Jim. These included Captains Ian Clark and Ted Davis who had travelled north specially, as well as many regular passengers and former crew members from all over the country. Promptly at 10.00 Captain O’Brian swung the paddler and set off down river for Greenock, Largs and Rothesay for a cruise round the Isle of Bute. Frequent hot drinks were the order of the day as the mist, rain and sunshine intermingled. Terry Sylvester reminded us of his publicity slogan “On the Clyde you frequently sail out of the rain into the sun” which was true of this day.

At Largs Jim had a big surprise as his mother, brother, sister and partner unexpectedly came on board to be present on this memorable day.

A presentation to Purser Jim took place in a very crowded Jeannie Deans bar at 15.00 just after we had rounded Garroch Head, the most southerly point of Bute. Captain O’Brian and other officers lined up with Jim across the forward end of the bar. Assistant Purser Paul Semple made an excellent speech paying tribute to Jim’s great qualities and contribution to the ships’ cause. In conclusion, he presented Jim a giant cheque for £1,400 contributed by the steamer’s Scottish passengers. Gavin Stewart, Chairman of the PSPS Scottish Branch, added his and the Society’s thanks and marked this with a presentation of a whisky decanter. Finally, Graeme Hogg, Chairman of Waverley Excursions, spoke on behalf of the Company to express everyone’s gratitude for Jim’s sterling service. He also recounted his first meeting with Jim when a diversion of the steamer had left him stranded at Rothesay when he needed to be at Tighnabruaich. On complaining to Jim, he had been given £10 for a taxi – “that will get you home, sir.” The fare was actually £11!

Pat Marron sets about cutting the celebratory cake

Jenny Longhurst, who knits many of the red, white and black bobble hats sold in the ship’s shop, had knitted a Special Edition version for Jim with “Done Pursering” knitted into it. This he proceeded to wear at each port on our return voyage, going ashore to say his goodbyes to the pier staff who were left in no doubt it was his last day. The traditional three blasts on the whistle to mark the last call were also given.

On the last leg up river, Eila Handyside presented Jim with an album containing the signatures and messages of the contributors together with a selection of appropriate photographs.

A lone piper played us into Pacific Quay and after securing the ship, Captain O’Brian paid his tribute to Jim over the PA, thanking him on behalf of all the captains and crew members he had sailed with.

After end-of-season tidying up the following day, the paddler’s crew attending a special dinner to mark Jim’s retirement in relaxed circumstances.

Waverley’s Directors all contributed to buy Jim an original painting of Tighnabruaich which was duly presented to him by the late Ian McMillan, Operations Director, at the commencement of the following Thursday’s Board Meeting.

Jim aboard the Waverley for the last time, 15 October 2022 (Picture by Iain Dewar)