Summer 1977

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

Summer 1977

Waverley scores Mersey triumphWaverley’s visit to the Mersey at the beginning of May was an outstanding success with vast crowds turning out at every pier. Leaving the Clyde for the first time the vessel behaved well in difficult weather conditions en route to the Mersey. Winds of Force 6 were against the vessel and in rough conditions off the Calf of Man a big sea smashed a cafeteria window. With faultless mechanical performance the new paddle wheels passed their first big test with flying colours. The captain brought the paddler alongside Princes Landing Stage at 16.30. The Lord Mayor of Liverpool and Lady Mayoress boarded for a special reception later in the day. On April 30th there was an open day with 2,500 visitors.

Next day an estimated 3,500 people were on the pier at Llandudno and a silver band played as Waverley became the first paddle steamer to arrive from Liverpool for almost half a century. In the following week Waverley undertook a charter, schools cruises and evening showboat cruise. On Saturday May 7th an excursion along the North Wales coast was arranged, but with conditions deteriorating it was decided to turn back and cruise up river for two hours towards the Wirral Country Park. On Sunday Waverley made a sailing to Fleetwood where even larger crowds awaited her than at Llandudno and the steamer took on 700 for a cruise in Morecambe Bay. The trip back to Scotland was made in calm conditions, Waverley reaching Ayr harbour ten and a half hours after her 14.30 farewell to Liverpool on Monday.

Poole Belle, the last of the Fairmile ‘B’ motor launches in service at Bournemouth. Seen on her last day in service, the vessel flies a historic pre-war “Skylark Fleet” flag.|Bournemouth Echo

Quiet end for the Poole Belle – The Poole Belle, perhaps better known by her former name of Matapan, in company with sister ships Dunkirk and Anzio, assisted the paddlers on the Bournemouth service. There can be few members who enjoyed a cruise on the Embassy who will be unable to recall the sight of at least one of Croson’s fleet of converted Fairmile ‘B’ motor launches. Now, on September 30th 1976, after a 28 year peacetime career the last of this famous class of wartime vessels was being withdrawn. Dressed overall and flying the flag from her pre-war “Skylark Fleet” the Poole Belle was ready to leave Poole Quay, but grey clouds and rain dictated that the farewell cruise was in doubt. When the clouds broke, blue skies appeared as we cast off with a small party on board. After a brief stay at Bournemouth we were soon heading home for the last time. All too soon the telegraphs clanged and the engineer acknowledged the skipper’s instruction of slow ahead both. Then we glided into the berth the Belle had occupied for so many years.

London & Home Counties Branch – The branch is sorry to lose the active support of Collard Stone who, now in his eighties has decided to retire. Mr Stone learned to crawl as a nipper along the decks of La Marguerite and had a life’s interest in paddle steamers. He is leaving a legacy – the Pleasure Steamer collection of souvenirs, models and relics which have been amassed over the years mostly by Collard’s efforts. The first Branch Committee meeting to be held on board Kingswear Castle was on April 16th. There was some hard work going on preparing the slipway. This is becoming very urgent as it is planned to slip KC on the spring equinox tide in a few week’s time.

Wessex Branch – The Wessex Branch Royal Silver Jubilee Cruise to view the NATO fleet assembled at Spithead is on June 26th. There is to be a special display of fireworks at Southsea on the day of the Review, June 28th. Balmoral will leave the Pier at Southampton at 7.30, return 11.30, cost is £5.