Summer 1984

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

Summer 1984

A huge achievement – From the Chairman: The year 1983 has been a vintage one and one of which you may feel justifiably proud. Twenty five years ago when the PSPS was founded with a handful of members the prospect of actual preservation was just a gleam in the Society’s eye. That flicker burned brightly in 1967 when the Society acquired Kingswear Castle and after sixteen painstaking years of renovation this historic little steamer sailed again, restored to her former glory. The same spark fired the rescue of Waverley, and as Waverley embarks upon her tenth season in association with the Society we should reflect on her amazing achievements and our extraordinary good fortune. In those nine years she has circumnavigated the coast of Britain three times and visited almost every pier of note.

Medway Queen comes home. Photographed from Kingswear Castle.|Bernie Thompson

A Royal homecoming – On Sunday 22nd April the paddle steamer Medway Queen returned home to the Medway after an absence of over 20 years. On board Kingswear Castle we were informed that Medway Queen was on her way, and at about 10am we slipped away from our moorings at Chatham and set sail. We could see her coming past Upnor Castle high out of the water on a Eurosalve pontoon being towed by a single tug. Soon we were close enough to take pictures and give a long “Welcome Home” blast on the whistle. KC turned and headed back to follow the Medway Queen. Slowly we managed to pass her and could see on board a number of people involved with the rescue operation.

Later in the day, after being shown round KC, the secretary of the Medway Queen Trust invited us aboard. At 9.00pm, in total darkness, two rowing boats slipped away from KC with engine room and deck crew. Once on board, the generator was started up and floodlights switched on. All around us the ship looked in a sorry state, with most things covered in a layer of mud. It was sad to see the engines now covered in a layer of rust. We left the Medway Queen looking up at the rusty hull and remembered the many hours spent under the Kingswear Castle with chipping hammers.

Kingswear Castle steaming past Medway Queen.|PSPS Collection

WaverleyWaverley entered dry dock at Govan on 2nd April after completing trials on the Clyde the previous weekend. For the trials she left Glasgow at noon and after proceeding down river circled off Greenock to test the steering. Towards Wemyss Bay problems occurred with the circulating pump and this was repaired before she made two runs over the measured mile at her normal service speed of 14.5 knots. A circuit of Cumbrae followed and Waverley returned to Glasgow, arriving at 23.00 to land some 56 hardy souls who braved the bright but windy conditions to travel “steerage” throughout the day.

North of the Border – 1984 brought good news – the Government announced that it will pay c£200,000 to restore Tobermory Pier. Previously £75,000 was offered, but revised plans will enable CalMac ferries – and the Waverley? – to once again call at the pier. Islanders on Cumbrae also received good news – Strathclyde Region are spending £80,000 on repairs to Millport Old Pier in time for summer sailings. The restoration work on the Comet replica at Port Glasgow is nearing completion and externally this paddle steamer looks in fine condition.