Winter 1991

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

Winter 1991

Premature end to Waverley’s 1991 seasonWaverley’s season came to a premature end in September when the steamer was withdrawn and the Balmoral sailed south to cover the remaining sailings on the Thames, East Coast and Bristol Channel. Waverley’s engineers became concerned about the condition of a bearing in the port paddle shaft and with bad weather forecast over the weekend of 21st/22nd September it was decided to investigate the problem while the vessel was lying in Southampton. Excessive wear was discovered and the steamer remained at Southampton while a new bearing was cast and fitted.

Balmoral sailed direct from Liverpool to Ramsgate on 22nd September and took up the programme on 25th carrying 500 up the Thames. She was fully booked from Ipswich on 26th, took 500 from Tower Pier on the PSPS charter, and was full from Whitstable next day. She had to miss the late September Clyde sailings, but the CalMac ferry Jupiter was chartered for the Rothesay fireworks and brought in most of the money needed for the charter fee.

KC report – Aylesford trip proves popular – The most popular special sailing this year was, as usual, the cruise towards Aylesford, landing at Snodland. The weather was perfect. Two cruises to Sheerness were scheduled. On the second, passengers were landed, with time for a stroll in the town. The jetty is short and there is only a short time when the tide permits KC to call. The annual Parade of Steam was a bit of a misnomer, but Balmoral made an excellent substitute and both KC and Balmoral were full.

Medway Queen – At about 2.45pm on 28th September, the Medway Queen was refloated from her berth in Damhead Creek and was turned round so that she could be moored to the previously positioned barge. The ship’s appearance continues to improve, mostly just cosmetic of course and there is a long way to go yet. Over the last few months something like fifteen hundred bolts have been fitted through holes cut in the hull to secure the patches inside and out.

Mr. Smith-Cox, complete with familiar trilby with Nigel Coombes and Terry Sylvester.|PSPS Collection

Mr. SC Smith-Cox – Died on 3rd August. A chartered accountant by profession, Clifton Smith-Cox had progressively taken control of Campbell’s management following appointment to the board in I952. When Campbells were in danger of going out of business in 1959 he made personal arrangements with George Holt Industries (later Townsend Ferries), and there is no doubt that his timely intervention breathed new life into Bristol Channel cruising. White Funnel long outran other similar commercial fleets. His tenacity in running the Balmoral had crucial implications for the long-term. Initially sceptical about Waverley’s chances of survival, he soon recognised that a committed volunteer element in her operation could well succeed. He would greet each new Society initiative by saying to close friends: “I wouldn’t put any money into it, if I were you . . .” (knowing perfectly well that they would) but, then, in his discreet fashion, proceed to back it in any way he could. His wealth of experience in the excursion trade was passed on to the Waverley organisation in generous measure.

Balmoral to Liverpool – On 15th September we sailed up the Mersey to Liverpool. Picking up more passengers we cruised up to the furthest possible navigation point. After a carefully negotiated turn we went downstream, into the Manchester ship canal and up to Ellesmere Port.

And 50 years ago… Fine seamanship at Ilfracombe when Cardiff Queen lands passengers with the red flag flying; Embassy and Balmoral together; Ryde completes summer sailings. Read more…