Winter 1984

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

Winter 1984

Historic River Medway meeting – At 9.00 am on September 9th Kingswear Castle set sail from Strood Pier with Capt. Colin Wright as master and a full complement of 12 passengers. Anticipation grew as we made our way downstream following the River’s twists and turns. Just over half and hour later Waverley slipped into view at her berth by the entrance to Chatham Dockyard. There was a brief exchange of whistle blasts before KC began a 180 turn to starboard to bring her alongside. We were made fast sponson to sponson and the first rendezvous of two paddlers in steam in the British Isles for 15 years had been safely accomplished. One of Waverley’s gangways was quickly lowered on to KC’s foredeck and several of Waverley’s crew came aboard for a quick inspection. Finally it was time for Waverley to sail for Tower Pier. We went astern and turned out into midstream. Waverley soon caught up and kept station side by side. To a final salute from KC’s whistle Waverley put on full steam for Southend.

The official rendezvous took place on 16th September. Waverley’s decks probably saw the greatest gathering of steamer nutters ever, people craning their necks to catch the first glimpse of Kingswear Castle. On this occasion Capt. Steve Michell (Waverley’s first officer) was in command on KC. Puffin, a steam pinnace, had joined us and added her salute as the two paddlers set off downstream once more, in convoy with Don Rose’s Queen of Kent and Thames Queen, another local passenger launch. After a mile or so KC fell astern as Waverley worked up full speed to commence her return journey in earnest. KC cut across Waverley’s wake with a cloud of smoke blowing from her yellow and black funnel, a picture which brought to a conclusion one of the most significant weeks in PSPS’s history.

Best financial resultWaverley’s financial result in 1984 is the best ever. The highlight was a terrific August period on the Clyde with the vessel running close to full on many days. Passengers had to be left behind at Tighnabruaich on a number of occasions. The good results were achieved in the best summer for almost a decade.

North of the Border – As usual on the shipping scene some good news has been balanced by bad. Tarbert pier on Loch Lomond, following a £50,000 reconstruction was officially opened on 12th September. However the highways and transport committee reversed a previous decision to carry out £90,000 repairs to Millport Old Pier because it “now performs a leisure and recreation function”! Apart from the loss of thousands of day trippers who arrive by Keppel and Waverley it would leave the island entirely served by the Largs – Cumbrae Slip service. Islanders are fighting back with a Fighting Fund reaching £5,000 by the end of September. Another pier in disrepair is Gourock. All berths downriver from the linkspan terminal have been sealed off with barbed wire.

Medway Queen – Since returning to the River Medway earlier in the year the Medway Queen has remained at St. Mary’s Wharf, Chatham, but no restoration work has started and the plans of the Medway Queen Trust now seem somewhat obscure.

Waverley publicity float No. 1.

Branch news – The summer of 1984 saw some remarkable publicity efforts on behalf of Waverley and PSPS. Ken and Geoffrey Ryder took an impressive display to a variety of events. John Morse took his suitably decorated car in the Bournemouth “Battle of Flowers”. An impressive float was, not surprisingly, first prize winner at the Porthcawl Carnival in July.

Waverley publicity float No. 2.