Summer 1973

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

Summer 1973

Firth of Clyde – The Caledonian Steam Packet Company Ltd was renamed Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd on January 1st, 1973. A new colour scheme is expected. Various frightening rumours have been heard and it seems that all ships will have red funnels with black tops; on the red portion will be a buff disc on which the lions will be mounted.

PS Waverley on Lamont’s Slip, Port Glasgow, March 1973.|Douglas McGowan

Waverley was slipped at Lamonts, Port Glasgow in March. She duly sailed from Greenock on March 1st, but not without her starboard sponson having a slight altercation with the dock wall when leaving at full speed, resulting in some eight feet of belting at the forward end of the paddle box being “written off”! Perhaps it was just as well that her destination was Lamont’s slipway. The closure announcement for Craigendoran Pier has been published. It is for the summer service only – the Spring service was withdrawn very quietly after the 1971 season. In an interview with the Greenock Telegraph in February, Mr John Whittle, General Manager of Caledonian MacBrayne said he would give no commitment to run the Waverley after the end of the 1973 season. Certainly, with only afternoon cruises on many days, her season is unlikely to be very lucrative.

Shot blasting for hull – More than £1,000 has been spent on shot blasting for the hull of Kingswear Castle. Volunteers came into their own with a high speed job, essential after the blasting had been completed. As the slip on which KC is positioned is tidal, paint had to go on before the tide came in. Preparing the hull for shot blasting was one of the first big jobs tackled by Society volunteers who removed as much as possible of the fittings. Earlier KC was cleared of debris and the coal from her bunkers bagged and stacked under polythene. The plates over the portholes were removed along with the steering chains and stern well gratings. A hut has been kindly made available by Machin, Knight & Co. for use as a tool room, workshop, store and even an ad-hoc canteen. The log book of restoration work shows that the first working parties installed a sink and benching.

Distant paddle wheels

  • Austria: Three centenarians continue to thrive, Gisela (1872) on Traunsee, still powered by oscillating machinery, Kaiser Franz Josef I (1872), now diesel powered on Wolfgangsee and Unterach (1870) used at peak periods on Altersee.
  • Denmark: Hjejlen will sail again on the Silkeborg Lakes.
  • East Germany: Services from Dresden are already in full swing. The motorships apart, fourteen paddle steamers will be fully occupied in the season.
  • Switzerland: Most eagerly awaited this summer will be the return to service on Lake Zurich of the paddle steamer Stadt Rapperswil after extensive renovation. But first two engineers have to be sent to Lake Lucerne to “learn the ropes” on the paddlers there, to ensure sufficient experienced staff to man both the Rapperswil and Stadt Zurich. BLS paddler Lotschberg will sail daily in July and August on Lake Brienz. The other BLS paddler Blumlisalp remains withdrawn at Thun, and there is no news of her fate.