Chairman’s comments – Deepest thanks to all those who have rallied to the cause for funds to ease Waverley through an acutely difficult period this winter. To date just under £30,000 has been given and there are still major fundraising efforts to come. At Easter it was important that costs were kept to a minimum on Balmoral. Congratulations to Tom and Joan Foden and the ladies for providing much of the food and to the Society stalwarts who ran highly successful raffles.
Bristol Channel Branch – Some 65 people attended the first dinner of the Bristol Channel Branch, which was held at the Walton Park Hotel, Clevedon, and proved to be highly successful. Our honoured guest, Sir Robert Wall, gave a highly colourful and entertaining speech in which he outlined the early days of the Society, interspersing these with several hilarious personal reminiscences connected with the P&A Campbell ships.
Scottish Branch – Aboard Waverley the Society work parties were as usual getting involved with some exhausting manual labouring as well as their adopted task of maintaining the wooden buoyant seats. A special effort was made to help with the flitting of the office, workshop and stores from one end of Anderson Quay to the other, which took place from 19th – 26th March.
Waverley back in service – Boiler repairs were completed early in April and after satisfactory weld and pressure tests the vessel left for Milford Haven to be dry docked together with Balmoral which had moved to the yard following Easter sailings on the Bristol Channel. The decision to send Waverley to South Wales for dry docking made sense as the repaired boiler required lengthy steaming tests. Balmoral sailed directly to Milford Haven after finishing Easter sailings at Bristol. Balmoral’s early season plans had to be changed and it was decided the vessel would remain on the Bristol Channel for the May Bank Holiday weekend instead of running on the Thames where neither Tower Pier or any other central London berth was available.
Promoting Kingswear Castle – Much effort during the winter has been devoted to marketing, with the production of colour leaflets right at the start of the year for distribution by mail shot, and at trade fairs attended by coach operators, and party organisers. The result has been very encouraging, advance bookings being substantially up on those at the same date last year, and groups booked on more than half the scheduled afternoon Medway cruises. A special promotion has been arranged with Network South-East for the regular Medway cruises. They will be producing special leaflets for distribution at stations.
Medway Queen – During the winter months the ship has lain snug at Damhead Creek. Working party members have now have now got used to walking on level decks after two years of the ten degree list at St. Mary’s Wharf. Work continues to clear the boiler room so that the last leak can be fixed, all that is now preventing MQ staying afloat. An access hole has been cut through the deck on the port side of the funnel casing to give direct access to the boiler room. Through it we recently removed the two central heating stoves installed in the Isle of Wight days which were by now solid blocks of rust. Outside the ship the newly cleaned plate work is gradually being coated with red oxide paint. On March 24th we launched the Medway Queen Appeal. The three local Boroughs were represented by their Mayors and a number of local councillors. PSPS also attended in force.
And 50 years ago… Waverley and Jeanie Deans went to Harland & Wolff for overhaul; Embassy is being prepared for her season; Humber Paddlers – a cruise programme is to be run this summer. Read more….