Spring 1991

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

Spring 1991

A Vice President’s notebook – For the first time the Waverley has been wintering away from her usual Scottish base. It has been rather strange to glance down from the Avon bridge at Gordano to see two red funnels at the south end of Avonmouth Old Dock. The refurbishing of the paddle wheels started well before Christmas, with the platforms, curved box tops and massive spring beams removed to the dockside. The Christmas leave period left Kenny Fraser aboard to be joined by the indefatigable John Lees to keep an eye on the boiler which has been kept in steam through the winter. We have reason to be grateful for such faithful employees.

Waverley’s wheels – The Easter period will be the opening sailings following complete rebuild of the paddle wheels for the first time since the vessel was completed in 1947. The work at Avonmouth is expected to last until almost the end of February. A major consideration has been determining the correct angle of entry for the paddle floats to reduce routine maintenance, increase speed and achieve greater fuel economy.

November novelty! – Those aboard Kingswear Castle on 4th November were enjoying the novelty of cruising in the merry month of November. An interesting feature was the very high tide on that day. Familiar islands had completely disappeared under water. A few days later the landing stage at Thunderbolt Pier was towed away for repairs so KC had to be moored to nearby buoys. She had to come alongside the Dockyard wall at high tide for coaling and stores, otherwise all other comings and goings are by ship’s boat. The Christmas luncheon cruise left Strood in snow. Very seasonal, as we partook of punch and mince pies. The New Year cruise on 1st January followed the same pattern, though less cold. Some of us have had our first paddle steamer cruise of 1991.

Piers in the picture – WEL and Wessex Branch are joining forces in a strenuous effort to re-open Swanage Pier to both Balmoral and Waverley in 1991. It is not anticipated that repairs will be excessive or strenuous but certain basic skills would be helpful.

Visit the Swanage Pier Trust here to support the continuing restoration work.

Clevedon Pier, built in 1869, suffered major collapse in 1970 and the owners sought to demolish it. A group of local businessmen formed the Clevedon Pier Trust Ltd. and were given authority to take over and restore the pier. The restoration was partially completed in May 1989 and this resulted in the public being able, once again to enjoy sailings from the pier by Waverley and Balmoral. During the storms of February last year some £10,000 damage was caused. To complete the reinstatement of the Victorian wrought iron pavilions and landing stage we seek to raise £500,000.

Paddler pot pourri – There was an unfamiliar team on the bridge when Waverley moved from Narrow Quay, Bristol to Avonmouth docks on the last day of October. Commander Tom Foden is in the wheelhouse as acting mate with Waverley’s regular captain on the port wing.

Although work continued on the Medway Queen through the winter months, members of the MQPS concentrated effort on conversion of a portacabin to serve as an enlarged shop and visitor centre.

Steamer enthusiasts gathered at Lake Como for a special sailing by PS Patria on 18th October last year. Whether this will turn out to be the vessel’s final trip only time will tell.

And 50 years ago… KC’s withdrawal announced; Former Jeanie Deans is to be called Queen of the South; Sandown for sale; Caledonia doing tenders until mid-December; Talisman slipped. Read more…