Autumn 1985

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

Autumn 1985

Balmoral donations flood in! – Within a month of the public launch of the Balmoral Restoration Appeal over £10,000 was raised, bringing the Fund up to £60,000. Donations from all over the country are flooding in daily. Traders in Ilfracombe are also rallying to the cause; the town is festooned with Balmoral posters and donations are now beginning to pour in from the traders who will directly benefit from the return of Bristol Channel cruises. Balmoral saw some action in the week following Easter when she returned to Stobcross to transfer diesel fuel to Waverley. Westward Ho was also there thus providing the opportunity of viewing the new fleet together.

Medway Queen Society formed – A number of local people in the Medway Towns have acted to try and give the preservation project for the vessel a boost before it was too late. The result was the setting up, at a public meeting on 13th June, of the Medway Queen Preservation Society. The new body does not own the ship but exists to work closely with the owners to ensure the vessel’s survival. The priority task was to secure a safe berth for Medway Queen before another winter.

Revival of a traditionWaverley returned to Scottish waters in early May direct from Douglas and an old tradition was revived when the Kintyre and Arran farmers were given the opportunity to visit the Ayr agricultural show.

Map showing Crinan.

Another first was a call at Crinan. It was more than half a century since the village had received its last steamer call – by MacBrayne’s Mountaineer in 1928. Crinan was overwhelmed despite the dreich conditions. The narrow roads and steep hills proved too much for the influx of visitors and parking was over-subscribed. Coach drivers hadn’t fancied the road system either and inclusive tour passengers had to “hoof it” a mile and a half down the road. Crinan proved to be more accessible by paddle steamer than by coach.

Kingswear Castle report – 29th June was the Blue Circle sailing barge race and KC has been chartered as the committee boat. Guests were welcomed aboard by the lively sound of a jazz band playing on the aft coach deck. Although KC attended last year’s match she could only take 12 passengers, but we made a promise to return with a full passenger certificate and we did! The following day was Gravesham Fair Day. On 1st July we proceeded up-river with arrival at Tower Pier at 15.25. Tuesday evening found us tied on a buoy waiting to enter the basin for the West India Docks fun week. On return to the Medway it was back to the published timetable and the start of cruises out of Southend. Every Thursday KC offers a choice of four 90 minute cruises from the pier. After a small turn out on the first visit passenger numbers have doubled each week, and on our third Thursday the afternoon trip was full causing us to turn people away.

From the ChairmanWaverley came through her first visit to Eire with flying colours and Society members are to be congratulated for providing a pool of support. There will be no shortage of quality advertising for Waverley’s south coast cruising this year, thanks to local member Robin Giles. For the third season his employer generously paid for posters to be displayed on every Solent area bus. The Chatham Historic Dockyard formally opened on July 6th. It looks as though the advertising message is getting through with 165 passengers – all unbooked – turning up for a Jazz Night on KC.