Rebuild – News Update V

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

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Excitement mounts on a daily basis! As ever, initial target dates have proven difficult to meet, but the contract is now out to tender, with tender returns due on 4 October. A decision will be made as early as possible in that month in terms of where the Rebuild will be carried out. There is strong interest from the ship-repair industry, especially from yards spread right round the British coast, and many of Waverley’s passengers in the middle of September will have seen delegations from the various yards visiting the ship as she sails so that they can assess the work to be done. Interest is also coming from souvenir-hunters, and it seems likely that Waverley’s present funnels may appear in a well-known maritime museum!

Project Director Ian McMillan and Project Manager Gordon Reid heaved several sighs or relief when, after much burning of midnight oil, the three-inch thick volume which is the work schedule for the Rebuild was finally copied, bound, and dispatched by courier to the relevant shipyards. It was accompanied, of course, by the package of drawings. These latter had been photocopied by Chief Draughtsman Trevor George and delivered to Glasgow in a package which weighed over 60 lbs!

Work on the ship will start as soon as possible after the end of the season, and completion date is scheduled for 29 June 2000, or earlier if the successful tenderers believe they can achieve early redelivery.

Agreement with the MCA has now been reached which will enable the retention of far more timber in the ship’s outfit than had previously been envisaged. The solid timber partitions at either end of the main deck alleyways will remain. The alleyways themselves will have their decks clad in timber to recreate their original appearance. The timber deckheads in the Lower Deck passenger accommodation (the Bar and re-introduced Lower Dining Saloon) will be retained, as they will in all of the after deck shelter and part of the forward deck shelter. The promenade deck will be fully clad in timber, including the sponsons. In the saloons, solid timber mouldings will replace the veneered MDF which we had feared we might have had to use. These developments, coupled with the extensive use of riveting in heritage-sensitive areas of the vessel (funnels, deckhouses, sponson houses, and the top strake of the hull containing the windows), mean that the restoration of the ship will be to a far higher degree of authenticity than might have been the case. The at times frustrating delays of the past year have been necessary to achieve this, but in the end it has been time very well invested.

Built into the rebuild programme will be dates on which PSPS members can view work in progress, and we aim to include details of yard visits with the next issue of “Paddle Wheels”. After so much planning, and after having overcome so many obstacles along the way, the reality of the Waverley Rebuild is now with us, and we shall see just what a £3.6 million facelift involves. Another dream is coming true…