Summer 1979

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

Summer 1979

“Follow the QE2” said Harbour Control – On Friday April 13th at 11pm two famous Clyde-built vessels converged on the Solent. QE2 had completed a world tour. Waverley had just completed a trying journey from “home”. Thus, one mile astern, at half speed, Waverley followed QE2 for an hour. When QE2’s tugs came out to meet her, Harbour Control directed Waverley’s captain to request permission to pass. Her passengers ended their world tour of wonderful sights with a final flourish – a view of the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world.

Waverley had left Glasgow at 5am on April 8th 1979. It was grey, rainy, very cold and windy. A Force 8 gale was forecast and it became prudent to shelter in the bay of Port Logan in the Mull of Galloway. On April 9th, 24 hours from Glasgow and still in Scotland, the weather was absolutely filthy. It couldn’t have been raining harder when Waverley arrived at Heysham about 6pm and was tied up against a jetty at such low tide that it was only possible to reach up a long vertical ladder. Shore leave until midnight! The weather did not improve – Waverley pulled away from Fishguard on April 11th and was in the Bristol Channel when a Force 8-9 gale was forecast. She dropped anchor in St. Ives Bay at 9pm. At 5am she nosed out and for about an hour it was quite comfortable sailing, when suddenly the weather changed to Force 8. Waverley’s caption decided to turn back to St. Ives. During the turn a paddle float broke, and immediately the anchor was dropped, Engineers got down to the task of removing it and building new one, not completed until 11pm. During the day Waverley went alongside St. Ives jetty for water and fuel – a tricky operation to be performed before the turn of the tide. She attracted a great crowd of onlookers.

The gales howled all night but at dawn had abated enough to make the turn around Lands End a possibility, and Waverley set off at 5am on Friday 13th. The tiderip from Lands End to Lizard rocked the Waverley from sponson to sponson but then good weather for the remainder of the journey gave the first opportunity to make her look smart. When she met up with the QE2 no vessel could have been more shipshape despite her trials and tribulations to reach Southampton.

Kingswear Castle report – Bow and bulwark replating is now under way and at weekends, Bank Holidays included, the sound of the engine-driven generator and angle grinder can be heard. To make use of mains power whilst on the slip, a welding transformer has been made available by ESAB Ltd on very generous terms. Help has been promised by Babcocks for platework and templates are now being made for new sponson brackets. The steering tiller is dismantled ready for sending away. The generous gift of a Weir 3 inch bore direct acting boiler feed Pump from the Kew Bridge Engines Trust is acknowledged.

Lincoln Castle to stay in Hull – PS Lincoln Castle has been bought by a nightclub owner who hopes to moor her in Hull Town Docks. Built in 1940 and the last coal fired paddle ferry operating year-round anywhere in Europe, she has been laid up in the William Wright Dock, Hull since withdrawal last year.