Summer 1971

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

Summer 1971

PSPS paddlers for 1971Lincoln Castle, Waverley and Maid of the Loch may have vastly contrasting spheres of operation and appearance, yet all three are products of the same shipyard, A. and J. Inglis of Pointhouse. Maid of the Loch opens the PSPS charter programme north of the border on Sunday May 23rd. There will be morning and afternoon cruises from Balloch.

Scottish notes – The best Easter weather for several years made it a very busy period for the last Clyde paddler. Pre-season slipping and overhaul plans for both Waverley and Queen Mary II were disrupted by a Clyde shipyard strike. An extension of the paddler’s certificate was obtained without difficulty and Waverley operated from Friday through to Monday. On Good Friday Waverley was on relief sailings to Arran, making two return runs between Ardrossan and Brodick.

Shieldhall during a brief return visit to the Clyde in July 2005.|Dave Souza

SS Shieldhall – SS Shieldhall, one of Glasgow’s two sludge disposal vessels, is to take passengers this summer on her daily voyage down the Clyde from Glasgow as far as Garroch Head. The steamer, beautifully kept and often mistaken for a pleasure steamer with her pale grey hull, white superstructure, and buff funnel with black top, is equipped with promenade deck, dining saloon and facilities for 80 passengers.

Compiler’s note: Duncan Edgell wrote about a little known, short lived pier…

Woody Bay Pier – It was in 1895 that construction of a pier commenced at Woody Bay – Wooda Bay as it was sometimes rendered, more accurately reflecting the spoken word of North Devon. One is inclined to wonder with what motives this was undertaken, for the place has no obvious means of cashing in upon the influx of visitors which the paddle steamers of Messrs, Campbell, Pockett, Jones and Edwards/Robertson would bring.

The site selected was a headland within the bay, below Martinhoe Manor, dividing West Woody Bay from Woody Bay proper. Access for foot passengers presented an obvious problem, for the pier was to be built out from the sheer seaward face of a huge sloping rock, separated by a yawning gap from the cliff path. Thus the first move had to be to fill this gap in, building up a steeply-descending approach from the cliff top. By early 1896, building of the pier itself had begun. A labour force of about two dozen was involved, and a static steam winding engine was set up. Soon, huge timbers began to sprout from the rocky shore. These were closely spaced, producing an appearance quite unlike the series of slender iron bridges which constitute Clevedon Pier.

As construction continued, a latticework of criss-crossing wooden struts appeared, enhancing the strength of the structure and incidentally increasing the total area of obstruction to air and water movement, and hence the force applied to the pier by gale or storm. Only the head of the pier stood in water of any depth, the footings of most of the timbers being revealed at low water. Regardless of the depth of water available, it is doubtful whether the pier was of any use at the lower states of the tide, for no facility apparently existed for embarking or discharging passengers at lower levels. No covered accommodation whatsoever was provided.

The all-wooden pier duly opened to traffic in April 1897, but it is not known to what extent the excursion paddlers of the day came flocking. At least one photograph exists of PS Cambria at Woody Bay pier, and there is a picture of PS Scotia lying off. Whilst reasonably sheltered from the West by the tall headland of Wringapeak, the pier was completely exposed to wind and sea from the North-West. It may have been a storm from this direction which caused the first serious damage, probably during the winter of 1897/98. The pier was breached at its root, the landward third of the structure being completely lost. This damage was soon made good by the construction of a long, narrow bridge out to the sound part – incredibly flimsy-looking and rather comical.

By 1899 a small, eccentrically placed pavilion or shed, which did not look as though it would withstand a high wind, had appeared on the pier head. The end came, on the night of 28th/29th December 1900 – the night of the Great Gale which, among other things, devastated Watchet Harbour. Photographs taken the following morning reveal a sorry sight, the pier severed this time at its neck, just short of the pier head, The aforementioned shed had predictably vanished without trace. By the spring of 1902 the process of demolition had begun, and was well advanced by June. A photograph taken on the last day of March 1903 shows no trace beyond what remains today – the strip of concrete which appears at half ebb, and the steep overgrown approach where local fishermen stow their rods, yet even to this day affectionately known as “the pier”.