Winter 1994

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

Winter 1994

Launch of Heritage Afloat – On 6th October 1984 the Pool of London saw the launch of Heritage Afloat. Walking over Tower Bridge in the early morning sunlight, it was possible to see VIC 56, a Clyde Puffer dating from 1946, and a familiar sight to those on Waverley, simmering at Butlers Wharf Pier. Alongside her was Provident, the Brixham sailing trawler which celebrates her 70th birthday this year. Already on buoys were the Thames barges Wyvenhoe (Wivenhoe-built in 1898, steel hull), Ironsides (built Thurrock, 1900, iron hull) and Hydrogen (built in Rochester 1906, wooden hull), whilst at HMS President itself was Excelsior, a Lowestoft sailing trawler dating from 1921. Inside the pier was Elizabeth, a narrowboat converted for private use as long ago as 1936. A quick walk around St. Katherine’s Dock revealed Massey Shaw, the Dunkirk veteran fire float, and Aldgate, another narrow boat, with her butty boat. All three would join the parade later in the day.

Waverley took up her position as head of the flotilla before proceeding towards Greenwich at a stately pace. The Secretary of State, after a quick visit to the engine room, found a position on the handrail and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. The parade ended at Greenwich. While Waverley waited, several historic vessels passed, continuing on their way home.

Teddy bears at sea – The now traditional Teddy Bear parties were held on Balmoral from and Bristol, Swansea, Ilfracombe, Penarth and Weston-super-Mare. Unfortunately the Teddy Bear cruise from Porthcawl had to be cancelled because of bad weather. There were 211 Teddy Bears sailing from Swansea – an all time record. Super Ted was on board to entertain the children on the cruises.

River closures disrupt sailings – 20th August was KC’s special cruise “90 years in Steam” celebrating KC’s steam engine. There was a photographic display on board depicting the 90 years, and Mrs. Diane Lawrence presented Captain John Megoran with a superb framed tapestry picture which she designed worked herself, showing KC and her history. Diane also presented Marshall Vine (Chairman MQPS) with a similar tapestry of Medway Queen. Diane and her husband David have been associated with KC since restoration days.

River closures disrupted the afternoon sailings the following week with mini-cruises operating instead. KC was able to carry out the three charters booked for that week. 1st September saw the river closed again, but all was well for a wedding reception held on board the next day. September was not such a busy month. On 30th we met up with Waverley in Salt pan Reach to transfer passengers that KC had picked up from Strood and Chatham earlier. Unfortunately KC was unable to take part in the Heritage Afloat Parade. On 6th 0ctober the weather forecast was high winds later in the day. This was at 5am, the time KC would have had to leave for London.

Chairman’s notes – We approached 1994 with a slightly uneasy feeling. The Society had raised impressive sums towards the target but were all aware of the deadline of early 1995. At the end of the season we know two things. The operating companies have beaten their record revenue of last year. The other thing is that the end of the fund raising tunnel is clearly visible.

A Vice-President’s notebook – The sights and sounds of the last week in the Bristol Channel gave the fitting climax that we hoped. The weather was not up to much but there was no rain. It was a magnificent sight to see both ships moored side by side at Clevedon Pier. I walked across to Balmoral, turned my back for a moment, only to find that she had cast off and we were away. For some distance we steamed abreast giving a sight of the Waverley at full speed, quite different to seeing her pass. Two departures from the company will leave a great gap. Both Roddy McIsaac and Angus McKinnon retired at the end of the season.

And 50 years ago… PSPS 10th Anniversary celebrations, overwhelming support for Society’s Ryde charter; Lincoln Castle well turned out for 4½ hour cruise from Hull. Read more…