Douglas McGowan Press Release

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

Waverley Launches Great Summer Season

On Saturday 14th June 2003, the famous Waverley, the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer, will make a triumphant return to her birthplace, following a £7m rebuild, in a grand extravaganza weekend of special events with something for everyone. On the Saturday morning, in a spectacular “back to the 40’s” theme, newly appointed Scottish Minister for Tourism, Frank McAveety, will formally launch the start of the 2003 season by smashing a bottle of champagne across Waverley’s bow, before she departs from Glasgow’s Anderston Quay at 10am. The Inverclyde Pipe Band will march on the Quay as Waverley casts off and retraces the route of her maiden voyage in June 1947.

Following a call at Greenock Customhouse Quay, she will sweep close to the now derelict Craigendoran pier before calling at Helensburgh, Kilcreggan and cruising up beautiful Loch Long to Arrochar. Between Greenock and Helensburgh, a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter will enthral passengers with a mind-boggling precision air-sea rescue demonstration from Waverley’s after deck whilst the steamer is under way. Musical entertainment will be provided by the well known Harry Margolis 1940’s Big Band, in keeping with the “back to the 40’s” theme and passengers will be invited to dress in period costume. Prizes will be awarded to the passengers wearing the best 40’s costume during this fun-packed day. The RNLI and local Coastguard vessel, along with as many small craft as possible are being invited to escort Waverley and Civic welcomes are expected from the local Provosts at both Greenock and Helensburgh. The adult fare from Glasgow to Arrochar for this historic day out is £27.95.

On Saturday evening, the action continues with Waverley departing from Glasgow at 8pm for a “Showboat” evening cruise down the Clyde when passengers will again have the opportunity to dance on deck to a “swing” Big Band. Waverley will present a stunning spectacle as she returns to Glasgow at 1130pm, lights blazing and newly painted red white and black funnels glistening in the floodlights. As she approaches Anderston Quay, a huge firework display, kindly sponsored by Glasgow District Council, will well and truly signal that “THE WAVERLEY IS BACK!”

On Sunday 15th June, Waverley will depart Glasgow at 10am for Tighnabruaich, Kyles of Bute, calling at Helensburgh, Dunoon, Largs and Rothesay. Workers from the former Pointhouse shipyard of A & J Inglis (the yard which built Waverley), are being invited on this cruise as guests of Waverley Excursions. Return fares to Dunoon from Glasgow are £15.95, Rothesay £21.95 (Children free today) and Tighnabruaich £29.95.

On Monday 16th June, (the actual date of Waverley maiden voyage in 1947), the famous steamer will depart from Glasgow at 9.30am, returning at 4.30pm, for a cruise to Helensburgh and Lochgoilhead. A number of specially invited VIP’s, who have played a major role in supporting Waverley’s rebuild, will be guests of Waverley Excursions on this cruise and the first 100 members of the public to book a ticket will be able to buy them at 1947 prices (£1.95 instead of £15.95!).

Waverley has now completed the final stage of a unique £7m major rebuild project which was undertaken by the specialist ship repairer George Prior Engineering at Great Yarmouth. This has only been possible with major grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), totalling over £6M and the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS). Smaller contributions have come from Glasgow District Council, Scottish Enterprise Glasgow, the European Regional Development Fund and local authorities. Waverley has been supported by the PSPS with a vibrant membership of over 4,000 for 30 years but only the excellent partnership with the HLF has provided Waverley with a viable long term future.

Waverley has been restored and rebuilt in a style sympathetic to the 1940’s with shipyard skills of yesteryear such as riveting the steel plates and laying traditional wooden decks, having been revived. During the last 8 months, Waverley has been given new passenger lounges on both the promenade and main decks, new wooden masts and refurbished Officer’s and Crew accommodation. The main engine and paddle wheels have been completely stripped, overhauled and rebuilt and a new sewage plant has been installed. In addition, over 3 miles of new wooden decks have been laid. Douglas McGowan, Project Communications Manager for Waverley Excursions and the man who “bought” the Waverley for the historic £1 from Caledonian MacBrayne in 1974 said:

[quote large=”true”]This unique restoration project will guarantee Waverley’s future for the benefit and education of future generations. In 1947, Waverley was one of several paddle steamers still sailing on the Clyde: now, she is the very last survivor and a very special lady. We are all looking forward to welcoming on board our first passengers for 2003.[/quote]

Since 1975, Waverley has carried over 5 million passengers on public day excursions on the Firth of Clyde, Bristol Channel, Solent and the River Thames. She will be cruising on the Clyde daily until 31st August and with the re-opening of Lochranza pier on the beautiful Island of Arran, Waverley will be offering a brand new cruise for 2003 every Sunday from 25th June. Each Friday, Senior Citizens can sail down the Clyde to Rothesay for the special fare of £15.95 with the ever-popular Alexander Brothers providing the entertainment on Friday 20th June. From 5th September, Waverley will be cruising in the Solent area before moving round to the Thames on 26th September. She will close the 2003 season with a weekend of cruises on the Bristol Channel on 17th October.

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Further Press enquiries : Julie Hogan or Douglas McGowan on 0141 221 8152

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Waverley Excursions cordially invite you to sail aboard Waverley as our guest during her inaugural weekend on the Clyde. Please telephone Kathleen O’Neill on 0141 221 8152 to arrange for tickets.

It is anticipated that Waverley will be alongside Glasgow Anderston Quay on Friday 13th June. Ian McMillan (Chairman, Waverley Excursions) and Kathleen O’Neill (General Manager) will be available for 1:1 interviews.

Douglas McGowan (Project Communications Manager, Waverley Excursions) will be available for 1:1 interviews on Saturday 14th June.