Winter 1982

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

Winter 1982

Alex B Murdoch pictured in his garden near the magnificent ticket office and other relics from the MacBrayne paddle steamer Iona, withdrawn from service in 1935.|Douglas McGowan

Our most remarkable members – Alex B Murdoch must surely be one of the society’s most remarkable members as well as being the society’s most Senior Citizen – born in Lanarkshire in 1888. At the age of 10 young Alex was already helping with the ropes and gangways at Kirn Pier and at that time (1890s) the most frequent visitors were the North British steamers Diana, Vernon and Dandie Dinmont. Iona was always number one in ABM’s charts and he always sailed on her whenever possible. In 1935 when the Iona was withdrawn he ended up buying Iona’s ticket office for £30 including transport from Dalmuir to Carmyle. It later moved house with Alex to Giffnock where it still lies today. Along with many other priceless items from the Iona, Alex generously donated the ticket office which was sold at the Scottish Branch’s Auction. However the successful bidder never collected. The items he donated helped to raise a substantial amount of money and this was his way of contributing to Waverley’s continued operation.. He supported us right from the outset.

Waverley’s busiest year – 1982 has been the busiest year yet. The final total of 240,267 passenger journeys easily beats the previous record. Full complements were carried on many days in July – two weeks running over 1,000 passengers were landed at Tarbert! The Clyde summer season closed with a blustery cruise from Ayr to Loch Riddon on 19th August. Then it was off to the South Coast. Waverley was delayed somewhat due to bad weather but loadings were very good. The highlight of the visit was Waverley’s attendance at the return to Portsmouth from the Falklands of HMS Invincible. The date of her return from service was announced as 17th September. Permission was obtained from the Queen’s Harbourmaster for Waverley to sail into Portsmouth Harbour and view the return of the aircraft carrier and HMS Bristol. The capacity load of passengers had an excellent view as the Naval ships came home to a rousing welcome.

Maid of the Loch – Remained tied up alongside the pier at Balloch all summer without anything being done to her. The Countess Fiona berths on the Maid’s starboard paddlebox and intending passengers join via the promenade deck. The first indication of any progress being made came in September when it was reported in the press that her owners had applied for a liquor license.

Medway Queen moved to fresh mooring – PS Medway Queen was refloated and moved to a new River Medina mooring in late August and work is again in progress. It is still the intention of the trust – set up by Kent businessmen – to return the vessel to the Medway for restoration. The steamer was refloated on the tide by means of a generator and submersible pumps. It is now thought that the move to the Medway will have to take place on a giant pontoon.

Kingswear Castle – The main deck over the forward saloon has been completely lifted and replaced with new timber. Planking for the for a large part of the sponson deck was obtained by re-using the good parts of the timber which has been lifted. This is the first major part of the deckwork which has been tackled and all has gone very smoothly – a tribute to the volunteer team. In the engine room preparation work on the boiler is complete with the new cradles, fusible plug and new manhole doors approved by the inspector. A steam generator has been completely overhauled by a member. KC did not have a generator originally and light in the engine room was provided by acetylene lamps, two rusty specimens of which were found in the early days.