New Chairman Takes the Reins

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

New Chairman Takes the Reins

The Council of Management had been due to meet in London on 28 March, but our plans were overtaken by the coronavirus measures. So instead of our face-to-face meeting, we held our meeting by a video and phone conference, as permitted by our constitution.

The most significant item of business was the appointment of a new Chairman to take over from Peter Morley, who been standing in for a year as Interim Chairman. Peter had taken the role after Paul Semple had become Waverley’s General Manager. However, pressure of business had restricted Peter’s input into the job,and he had always indicated he was prepared to stand aside for someone who could put in more time.

We were very pleased that recently appointed Council member John Allen agreed to step up to be Chairman and he was elected unanimously. In view of the nature of the meeting, John had prepared a special video presentation for us which set out his background, his skills and his views on the future of the Society. You can read a summary below.

The remaining business was, in comparison, fairly routine. As usual we received detailed reports on Kingswear Castle, Waverley, Maid of the Loch and Medway Queen. Unfortunately there was the common theme of coronavirus interrupting business. In addition, each Branch reported on its activities and finances and our National Treasurer gave us details of our overall finances. In particular, we approved our Annual Report and Financial Statementsfor 2019 and you can find these here. We re-appointed our Independent Examiner and he will carry out his review when circumstances permit.

David Green, our Archive Trustee, reported on the donation to our Collection of many historical postcards together with photo albums, a scrap book,video tape, 8mm film, slides and CD’s of images. In addition, the Heritage Steamboat Trust had donated blueprints, linen drawings and tracings, including some rescued from the J S White Shipyard in Cowes when it closed. Several volunteers are working on cataloguing sections of our Collection.

Finally, we welcomed some 88 new members which took our total to 2,473, up 55 from the same time last year.

It is our intention to hold the National AGM on Maid of the Loch alongside at Balloch on 24 October, circumstances permitting. Future Council meetings are planned for 20 June in Glasgow and 21 November in London.

Meet John Allen

John experienced his first paddle steamers when visiting relatives in Penarth and remembers sailing aboard both Cardiff Queen and Bristol Queen.

He is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer, and after gaining a degree in Engineering Science from Brasenose College, Oxford, he joined London Transport. He spent most of his career with London Underground as a railway rolling stock engineer in various technical and managerial roles, and it was whilst training there that, in 1980 during a chance conversation with a colleague, he discovered Waverley, took a trip to Clacton, and joined PSPS.

He soon fell in love with Kingswear Castle when she returned to service, and through her visits to Damhead Creek encountered Medway Queen, becoming a working member and joining the Committee of the Medway Queen Preservation Society.

He was the founding Secretary of Heritage Afloat, the association for ship and boat preservation organisations, which amalgamated with the Maritime Trust to form the Maritime Heritage Trust.

He has sailed on most of the paddlers left operating worldwide and visited many of the others as well.

Now semi-retired, he still works occasionally as a railway rolling stock consultant, and since 2016 has been Chairman of the London and Home Counties Branch of the PSPS.

He views the Society’s main priority, now and into the future, must be to keep Kingswear Castle and Waverley sailing. The need to replace Waverley’s boilers has depleted the Society’s reserves, and there is a need to replenish them to the levels deemed necessary to alleviate similar unforeseen problems in the future. He hopes that more of the Society’s unparalleled archive can be displayed, both physically and online. He also considers it important that the Society keeps an eye on the other surviving paddle steamers in the UK to ensure that as many of them as practicable survive into the future.