Autumn 1990

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

Autumn 1990

30 years of Paddle Wheels – This issue 121 marks the journal’s 30th anniversary. Paddle Wheels has appeared in number of formats and five members have occupied the editor’s chair. Russell Plummer took over in 1966 and he has been involved in every one of the 93 issues since then. The first issue in magazine format as opposed to stapled foolscap sheets came out in 1970, and three years later the journal moved into ‘real print’. The size and format has remained largely unchanged since then. It was the early 1980s before colour became really practical, never more dramatically than in issue 100 in 1985 when the world’s last sea going paddle steamer was shown proving just that, nearing the Isle of Man in stormy conditions.


Waverley at Dunkirk – A series of cruises at the end of May marked the 50th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation and culminated in a Channel crossing to join the historic ‘Little Ships’ off the French port. Two special sailings from Dover and two more from Ramsgate, all under charter, carried well over 2,000 passengers. The first was from Dover on 24th May to view the departure of the ‘Little Ships’.

Greatest nostalgia was evoked on Sunday 27th May as Waverley, flying the house flags of companies whose vessels took part in the evacuation, sailed proudly in the wakes of those 27 paddle steamers. Special dispensation was obtained for the crossing to take place and the number of passengers was limited to 150. Waiter service returned to the dining saloon, to serve a special inclusive lunch on the way to Dunkirk, arriving in good time for to see the ships form two large circles off the beaches. A wreath was laid, followed by fly pasts. The final sailings from Ramsgate took place on Bank Holiday Monday when charterers Thanet District Council had no difficulty in filling the ship twice over. Clearly, Waverley’s presence made a major contribution to the events of the weekend.

Medway Queen commemorative service – This was attended by several of the ship’s crew from the Dunkirk days and some of those rescued. Medway Queen gleamed for the occasion. After the service, conducted from the foredeck of the ship, it was open house on board. The ship’s galley was providing refreshments for the first time for many years. The whole event was covered by newspapers and TV, plus a very nice piece in the Times. A few days later her ship’s pennant flew from Waverley on her trips across the Channel and Waverley’s captain made sure that everyone on board was made aware of its significance.

Waverley diary – April 1990 was the time to mark 60 years of the Duchess of Montrose and Waverley Excursions laid on two nostalgic day trips. In 1930 the turbine steamer first embarked upon a programme of cruising that was to prove such an immediate success that two years later a second steamer was built. So, on April 21st Waverley left Anderson quay without passengers, arriving at Gourock in good time and lying off until the one berth capable of accommodating her became vacant. It was from Gourock that the Montrose sailed day after day. Waverley’s captain brought the vessel alongside and passengers began to embark, noting with approval that the name pennant of the mighty turbine was flying. Once underway, Waverley called at Dunoon, Largs, Rothesay and Tighnabruaich, entering Loch Fyne. A call was made at Ardrishaig, the first opportunity for over 50 years to sail from there to Inveraray, and 600 did so.

And 50 years ago… First sailing round the Isle of Wight from Weymouth in 50 years; Bristol Queen’s third weekend excursion goes inside the Longships; Princess Elizabeth’s charter trip to Torquay; The Queen and Prince Philip on Maid of the Loch. Read more….