The Maid at 40 – 5th March saw the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Maid of the Loch into Loch Lomond at Balloch. To mark the occasion, the Society presented the Provost of Dumbarton District Council, as owners of the steamer, with a specially commissioned brass plaque. This was enthusiastically received by the press and television, and resulted in good publicity for the Maid. Dumbarton District Council also announced plans to fund a study into the long term future of the paddler. Also contributing to the project are the Loch Lomond Park Authority, the Tourist Board, Dunbartonshire Enterprise, and the Society. The Study will consider the costs and problems in restoring the Maid to an operational condition.
Our ships call again at Weston & Cardiff – A valuable contribution towards the viability of our programme in the Bristol Channel – the area that produces our greatest income – will be achieved this year. Sailings to and from Weston-Super-Mare the biggest resort in the Bristol Channel are being restored for the first time since l979. At a small reception in Weston in January to launch the project WSN Chairman, Terry Sylvester said the ultimate aim must be the restoration of Birnbeck Pier to allow calls at Weston at all states of the tide. This very sensible use of the sea wall at Knightstone Island allows all the pleasure and benefits of steamer trips to and from Weston to be restored to the resort.
And Cardiff? Ways have been found to sail to and from the great Cardiff Bay Development by calling at a quay wall alongside the site of the old Cardiff Pierhead pontoons, headquarters of the Campbell Fleet on the Welsh side of the Bristol Channel for most of this century. A large number of Bristol Channel enthusiasts are expected to turn out for the historic return of Pleasure Steamers to Cardiff for the first time since 1979.
First call at Otter Ferry since 1914 – Otter Ferry pier is in basically sound condition, certainly strong enough to permit Waverley to come alongside, but in order to allow passengers ashore a good deal of temporary re decking had to be undertaken to make the structure safe for its first party of passengers for almost eighty years. Captain Michel saw to this in person, organising the supply of the necessary quantity of timber a week or so in advance and working with the pier’s owners, Mr. and Mrs. Sharman. B&Q delivered it to the site free of charge. The exciting day began with departure from Glasgow at 07.45 on a bright but cold morning. The next calling point was Helensburgh, where the tide was exceptionally low, and the steamer then made her way to Largs and Rothesay. Next she headed into the Kyles once more and embarked a pleasing number at Tighnabruaich, including Mr. and Mrs. Shaman, who were looking forward to being able to sail to their own pier. A call was made at a more familiar Loch Fyne pier in the shape of Tarbert, and after that it was off up the loch once more through the narrows into which juts out the ‘oitir’ or sandbank which gave Waverley’s destination its name. A wide sweep positioned Waverley for her historic call and there it was – Otter Ferry pier, complete with the original enamel board proudly bearing the name of one of the paddle steamer’s most unusual calls ever. A total of 417 passengers were aboard when Waverley came alongside, to be greeted by the Strachur Pipe Band – average age 9 years – and a great deal of local interest. First ashore, incidentally, was the steamer’s Mate, Graham Gellatly, a PSPS member, who secured the first rope after it had been thrown to the pier.
And 50 years ago… First PSPS meeting ever to be held in Wales; Afternoon cruises by Lincoln Castle will not operate this year; No sign that Waverley will be around for many years to come. Read more…