Spring 1993

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

Spring 1993

Waverley on Anderson Quay.|The Herald

Near disaster! – A combination of an exceptionally hide tide and severe gale force winds drove Waverley’s starboard paddle-box belting on to the quayside at Anderston Quay on Sunday 10th January. On the falling tide Waverley developed a severe list to port but quick action brought in a JCB to push the belting off the quayside. Waverley suffered minor belting damage and two pier fenders were destroyed.

Balmoral’s funnel colours – The buff funnel of the 1992 season was never intended to be part of Balmoral’s new colour scheme. We had no firm idea as to what colour the funnel should be, and simply left it as it was. The red funnel which appeared for the last weeks of the season was just an experiment. The Waverley Boards consider that Balmoral’s colour scheme is very important; it is not a matter of personal choice. Comments have included: ‘It brings back so many happy memories for me for when I sailed aboard Balmoral from Southampton’, ‘looks like a floating fairground’. Read more…

Annual Christmas cruises – After a few quiet weeks Kingswear Castle sprang to life in December. Saturday 12th was sunny with blue skies, perfect for a winter cruise. A crowd of well known faces were seen as KC came into Strood Pier and these included many friends from far flung branches. Hot soup was available, while the buffet lunch was laid out abaft the funnel. There was a very high tide and with the sun shining no binoculars were needed to see Medway Queen’s funnel up at Damhead Creek. We sailed up Half-Acre Creek where the banks had disappeared below the water level. We seemed to be in open waters! On New Year’s Day 88 passengers sailed on two short cruises from Chatham Historic Dockyard during the afternoon. KC flew the European Community flag to celebrate the opening of the single market. Although a lovely day for most of the time, thick fog descended later in the afternoon and KC had to make her way back to Thunderbolt Pier using the radar, with visibility down to only a few yards at one stage. It was a strange experience be in a river only a cable or so wide and be able to see absolutely nothing but fog.

Why we need £350,000 – All Society members will by now know that the Society has set a fundraising target of £350,000 to be raised by 1995 so that our Paddle Steamers can comply with new Department of Transport regulations. Insofar as Waverley is concerned, the Department’s original proposals would have been impossible to meet, but after detailed consultation the proposed regulations were amended in such a way that compliance will be possible, though expensive. By 1995, Waverley will have to comply with new regulations concerning life-saving equipment and emergency bilge-pumping arrangements. New life jackets will have to be provided for all passengers and crew. The cost of this alone could be £60,000. For KC it is likely that either an additional power driven pump sited outside the engine room serving all compartments or alternatively a separate hand-operated pump for each two compartments will be required with all associated pipework.

It is very difficult to put an exact figure on the cost of implementing all of these new regulations, particularly as some are dependent on how the Department will ultimately classify Kingswear Castle. However at the very least there will be a need for new life-jackets, inflatable life-rafts and bilge-pumping arrangements which, coupled with potential structural work to the steamer’s hull and the provision of foam buoyant material are estimated to require around £110,000. All the expenditure is absolutely vital; if our ships do not meet the new regulations, they will not be allowed to sail.

And 50 years ago… Gloomy reading as Queen of the South goes to breakers and 148 years of excursions in the Thames area appears to be at an end; Future of withdrawn Bristol Queen in doubt. Read more…