Autumn 1981

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

Autumn 1981

‘Unbelievable’ early season – An amazing 82,659 passengers were carried by Waverley during her 1981 spring season in England and Wales. The first full load came on 2nd May when Waverley carried 842 from Ramsgate to Cap Gris Nez – part of a marathon day’s running from Tower Pier and back with calls at Greenwich, Tilbury, and Southend. There were only moderate numbers for a sailing from Goole on a dismal Saturday 9th May, but on the Sunday the steamer was full twice over for a Hull – Goole round trip and a New Holland – Hull – Spurn Head cruise. During the period of sailings from Middlesbrough and Hartlepool there were several near capacity loadings including over 800 to Scarborough on 16th May. Waverley became almost too popular on the Forth and attracted some unwanted publicity after twice sailing full from Granton with ticket holding passengers watching frustratedly from the quay. Some agents had not counted the number of fares on each ticket. People who booked through PSPS were given a full refund and a complimentary ticket. There were problems during the subsequent passage around the north of Scotland. Because of rolling, residue from the fuel tanks was stirred up and speed had to be reduced. Margaret Russell presented Waverley’s captain with a bottle of Islay malt whisky on behalf of passengers who travelled from Oban to Ayr on 4th June to mark completion of Waverley’s round Britain voyage.

Medway pirates – On Monday 4th May pirates attacked and seized the paddle steamer Waverley as she was on passage up the Medway. The boarders turned out to be none other than the scurvy men of the ill-famed steamer Kingswear Castle with crew ready to pounce on the unwary traveller and force him to serve aboard with paint brush and chipping hammer. There were fears that Waverley‘s entire complement was to be shanghaied but it soon became apparent that the black-hearted band were motivated by the age old desire for pecuniary gain as they moved among the passengers with drawn cutlasses and pistols. Their own ship for the present immobile, they were aided and abetted by a local villain who lent them his boat with which he went before to Gillingham, whither Waverley was forced to follow with the dreaded Black Flag in her fore rigging. Going alongside the jetty was finally accomplished whereupon the pirate horde returned to their own boat and went off to carouse the afternoon away in some teashop or other place of low resort.

Humber ferry finale – Traffic was already crossing the Humber Bridge when the paddle ferry Farringford made the final sailings of the Hull – New Holland service on 24th June. The vessel was dressed overall for the occasion.

Kingswear Castle – The ship’s wheel has been beautifully restored by Babcock Power. Any visitor to the ship should certainly ask to see it. Inscribed on the wheel are the names of those who undertook the task.

MV Prince Ivanhoe.|PSPS Collection

Prince Ivanhoe – Moving light for an open weekend in Bristol at the beginning of May, Prince Ivanhoe grazed rocks in the River Avon. She was able to carry out the planned static programme, then went direct to Barry and was there for more than a week in dry dock before the first sailing on 15th May and a public cruise from Penarth to Watchet and Minehead on 16th. Prince Ivanhoe has shown a better turn of speed than expected and is certainly faster than Balmoral was on the Bristol Channel last season.

Boob of the month – “You can enjoy a drink at the bar that never closes, have a meal or coffee at the restaurant or bring a snack up on deck and share it with the seagulls” – Waverley Humber sailing bill.