Winter 1990

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

Winter 1990

Waverley present as QE2 makes triumphant return – By the time QE2 berthed at the Container Terminal in Greenock at 8.30am on 25th July many had already been at their vantage points for a couple of hours or more. An estimated 75,000 people lined the esplanades and hillsides. Waverley arrived on her ‘champagne cruise’ charter, giving a good close up view before leaving for a visit to Rothesay. The two great Clyde institutions greeted each other, one with her steam whistle and the other with three sonorous blasts on the horn. As 4pm approached many ferries and small craft were waiting and at 4.20pm the huge ship began to move out into the channel, giving farewell blasts. The response was a cacophony of replies from the assembled craft, and of course Waverley. As QE2 progressed at a leisurely pace, Waverley caught up, stayed level for a while, then pulled away and remained in the vicinity for some time before turning to take her passengers back to Glasgow.

Basil’s surprise, surprise! – Former historical trust chairman Basil Craggs is about to become an octogenarian. To celebrate we thought we would get his 1950s Royal Eagle model out of the museum and run it at the rally. It is some 5ft. long, electrically powered with radio control and can broadcast music. We arranged to have the model on display at our hotel. Unfortunately Basil arrived just as we were about to go and collect it. There was a rapid change of plan and Basil came with us to the museum thinking it was an informal inspection of our exhibits. He became perplexed when the Curator started to remove Royal Eagle from the showcase and was quickly advised ‘You are sailing your model tomorrow!’ Next day, after more than a decade of inactivity, Royal Eagle sailed away on time with a nice wisp of smoke from the funnel and music being played in the saloon. Basil must be congratulated on making such a realistic and effective model over 30 years ago.

A plan like this may have been used. Published in ‘Famous Paddle Steamers’ by FC Hambleton in 1948, credit reads “The Royal Eagle is the premier Thames pleasure steamer of today. The sheer plan of this magnificent vessel is included by courtesy of the General Steam Navigation Co.”

So near but yet so far – South westerly gales put paid to plans for Waverley and Kingswear Castle to rendezvous at Whitstable on 6th October. KC was unable to leave the Medway and Waverley, sailing from Tilbury, had to divert to Chatham and, unusually, was unable to call at Southend Pier. Waverley’s captain tried valiantly to bring Waverley alongside the north east corner of the landing stage and in the lee of the pier structure. One line was passed ashore, but conditions were too difficult for landing and embarkation.

Maid of the Loch and Countess Fiona sold – Sold on 16th September 1990 to new owners, the Francis Leisure Group, the third company to own the Maid since her withdrawal from service in 1981. They currently own two hotels in Gateshead and a pleasure cruiser on the Tyne. They have great plans including a complete rebuild of the engines and new boiler, a restaurant for 80 – 100 people, 25 bedrooms and restoring the saloons and bar. There are several aspects of the plans which do not bear up to close scrutiny. Time will tell.

Teddy bears ahoy – Teddy bears parties on board Balmoral have become a traditional part of the Bristol Channel season. The usual competitions for tallest, oldest and best dressed were held on each trip. One bear was unlucky enough to fall overboard at Ilfracombe. Fortunately he was rescued by a passing yacht and a rather soggy bear was restored its grateful owner. As in previous years most of the children had not travelled on Balmoral before. We hope they will come again next year.

And 50 years ago… Coastal Steam Packet Co. formed for the purchase of Jeanie Deans; Arrival of Medway Queen at Isle of Wight; Princess Elizabeth running well; Waverley acting as hospital ship. Read More…