Prepared by: Ian McMillan & Dr. Nick James, Waverley Excursions Ltd.
Paddle Steamer Waverley was handed over to successful tenderers Messrs. George Prior Engineering of Great Yarmouth in the closing days of 1999, after a stormy voyage from the Bristol Channel.
Dismantlement commenced with the start of the new century and progress since has been rapid.
Waverley entered dry dock in Great Yarmouth on the 11th. February. Here, the entire hull has been shot blast cleaned externally and internally from the forward end of the boiler room right to the stern. All shot blast cleaned steel, including the conspicuous engine frames and condenser, has been protected with a coat of holding primer. By late February, a full survey of the hull was underway so as to identify all emerging steel repairs. Waverley will remain in dry dock until early April for steel renewals and other under water work to be completed. In the meantime, the new sponson structures are well underway at Messrs. Prior’s facility in Hull, whilst principal items of the historic auxiliary steam machinery are being restored by WEL staff and volunteers in Glasgow.
In Great Yarmouth, the dismantled moving parts of the main engine are being refurbished and polished – some of them already having a finish which some commentators have suggested is the equal of that to be found on the best restored continental lake steamers.
Meanwhile, deep in the border areas of Scotland, Messrs. Cochran have completed their contract to supply the new boilers which will drive the vessel in the new century. Weighing over twenty tons each, these items of equipment comprise the biggest single component package of the Rebuild Project. We look forward to their stately progress down the motorway to Great Yarmouth.
Further afield in the West Midlands, the new lifeboat davits, configured to deliver the best in terms of modern safety whilst maintaining traditional appearance, have recently undergone extensive trials. The suppliers, Messrs. Welin Lambie, who supplied the original davits for Waverley in 1947, can now add this interesting work alongside their delivery of davits for the film set for the recent film ‘Titanic’. Other areas of the vessel are not being neglected in favour of the purely technical. In the Borders of Scotland a special ‘weave’ is being prepared to recreate the style of upholstery and fabrics originally fitted to Waverley in 1947.
Early February also brought disappointment, as the HLF declined to support completion of the full rebuild at this stage, despite the overwhelming response to the recent Appeal launched and managed by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. The HLF have provided us with the full criteria against which applications for grant increases are judged, and as it appears that our application meets all the criteria, we have sought an early review of the HLF decision. They have, however, in any case, invited us to apply again for funding to complete the full Rebuild once the completed ship is back in service, and has completed a further operating season.
In the meantime, the current work plan is being reviewed in order to carry out the maximum possible amount of work now with the funds in hand while making it possible to complete the full Rebuild later with minimum disturbance to the work already completed. The reduced scope of work agreed with the HLF in November would have resulted in the ship being wholly unrebuilt forward of the sponsons with both deck shelters and the timber promenade deck unrestored, without the integration of double bottom tanks required by law after 2006, and with no timber decking in the engine room or boiler room alleyways. Some mechanical work would have also been postponed.
Thanks to the incredible support of the membership of the PSPS, we can now definitely fit a double bottom tank in way of the lower bar, enabling this area to be completely restored as, of course, will be the Lower and Main Deck Dining Saloons, the Galley and Passenger Toilets. More obvious and very welcome work to be done now will be the total renewal of the After Deck Shelter, complete with its much improved outfit which includes a new Snack Bar. The upper part of the hull forward of the sponsons will also be renewed in riveted steel, to match that obtaining around the restored Dining Saloon. Dependant on the cost of the steel renewals now emerging, and, once the hull is fully surveyed, the maximum amount of timber decking will also be renewed, priority areas being the Promenade Deck from the stern to the new Purser’s Office and the Main Deck Alleyways. The areas left for future attention would then be the interior of the Jeanie Deans Lounge, the Crew and Officers’ Accommodation and integration of the double bottom tanks forward, and the restoration of the Forward Deck Shelter and Promenade Deck timber and railings. Again, dependant on the amount of hull renewal which is necessary, we will look at carrying out some of the previously postponed mechanical work now. We thus look forward to an enormously improved Waverley returning to service in July, compared to what would have been achieved with just the reduced scope of work agreed in November 1999.
As to the immediate future, we are pressing the HLF to review its decision, and they have invited us to apply for further funding for the completion of this Project. If they do again contribute, then the value of funds recently raised and committed on the extended work programme we are now undertaking will still count as partnership funding.
We look forward to updating you in our next report and to seeing you aboard Paddle Steamer Waverley in the coming season starting early July 2000.