Winter 1989

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

Winter 1989

Bristol Channel highlights – The major new attraction was the restoration of cruises up the River Wye to Chepstow. Careful planning revealed that Balmoral could just slip under the Wye and turn at Chepstow. A total of 1,400 passengers, between two trips, can testify to the accuracy of these calculations. There was about one foot clearance at the M4 bridge and about 30 feet to spare whist turning. The passengers’ appreciation (or was it relief) was shown by spontaneous applause on completion of these manoeuvers.

South East – October 1st meant an early start for Whitstable for Waverley, from London and Kingswear Castle from Strood. Those who sailed on KC had a bonus in the shape of a meeting with the Director class paddle tug Forceful recently arrived in the Swale and lying off Queenborough. Waverley comfortably won the race to Whitstable this year, but it was KC which had the honour of carrying all three masters of the fleet when Waverley’s regular captain and Steve Michel joined John Megoran for the short afternoon cruise out of Whitstable.

RMAS Forceful, the last survivor of the Director Class of diesel paddle tugs awaits its fate at Queenborough on 14th October 1989. She was broken up at Cairnryan in 1990.|John Allen

Up-river exploration – September saw KC sailing up river towards Aylesford, reaching parts no paddler had ever reached before. As the river narrowed and vegetation became more lush one felt that with a little imagination, one could have been exploring some far-flung location in deepest Africa. A stop was made at Snodland where passengers were able to go ashore to explore the village.

In 1989 KC was chartered for a “Rail and Sail” by Cookham Travel, better known for their railtours. Real Ale was on board, and in the true spirit of the steam railway , KC performed a photographic runpast at Snodland.|John Allen

Restoration plan for Maid of the Loch – The Loch Lomond paddle steamer changed hands last April, being acquired, along with Countess of Fiona and the facilities at Balloch, by a new company. This is a joint venture between James Fisher & Sons of Barrow and Sea Management Corporation of Australia, and has announced ambitious plans for Loch Lomond including restoring the Maid to steam and introducing a high class catamaran.

Memorable celebrationWaverley’s early Scottish sailings in 1989 featured our Society’s memorable celebration of the ‘Caley’ centenary – one hundred years of the Caledonian Steam Packet Co. As June moved into July the paddler, safely back from the Bristol Channel, settled into her weekly routine. What really marked out the summer of 1989 was the July weather which brought passengers out in their hundreds day after day. Sad to say, it was too good to last in the west of Scotland, and this did take its toll passenger numbers, and led to some curtailment of the programme. The result remains encouraging, overall numbers on the Clyde for July and August up by 12%.

A Vice President’s notebookby Nigel Coombes – It was a very tired Waverley crew that arrived in the Bristol Channel for the final October sailings. On Friday Waverley was billed for a trip from Bristol City Centre, down the Floating Harbour, into the Avon and finishing at Clevedon. The atmosphere was nicely relaxed and informal. Saturday’s trip turned at Woody Bay with a heavier swell than was comfortable, affording a short spell ashore at Penarth. Then over to Clevedon to embark an unexpectedly large crowd for a superb Avon cruise. The first attempt to turn in the river fell short but, in an intricate and sustained manoeuvre, Waverley nudged and inched her way round. Almost all the passengers came on deck as the great ship imperceptibly turned to face down river.

And 50 years ago… Jeanie Deans got into difficulties on a return sailing; The Milford Haven sailing was the highlight of the season; Consul reopened the Lulworth Cove landing trips. Read more…