Progress has been slower than had been hoped for, due mainly to protracted discussions with the Marine Safety and Coastguard Agency (MCA). Although much of the design work has been completed, the final specification could not be embarked upon until MCA approval was forthcoming. Fire regulations were providing cause for concern in two areas. These related to the retention of an open engine-room and the treatment of escapes from the Lower Deck. I am pleased to say that these matters have now been agreed in principle. The open engine-room will be retained provided a sprinkler system is fitted and the question of escapes has also been resolved satisfactorily. All resources are now being targeted to achieve progress with finalisation of the specification.
In the meantime, a first payment of just over £55,000 has been received from the Heritage Lottery Fund in respect of design work already completed and the new boilers have been ordered. A down payment of £66,000 has been made for the boilers, which is shortly to be reimbursed by the Lottery. The ship will have two Cochrane Thermax single furnace wetback boilers, to be constructed at the company’s Annan works in Dumfriesshire.
The full internal design and specification should be completed by the end of September. It will be possible to recreate many details of the original ship’s outfit, as an example of which we now have firm quotations for copies to be made of the original dining saloon and bar chairs.
It will be obvious that serious delay to the project has now taken place, and it is unlikely that work on the ship herself will start until the New Year. At best the specification will be finished in mid-October with the contract being awarded the following month. Progress achieved over the coming few weeks will determine exactly what course the 1999 operation will take, but there is every intention that Waverley will run for the summer season, whether this is before or after completion of the Rebuild. It is also essential that work is not rushed nor quality compromised. The next few months will undoubtedly be difficult ones. But the goal of rebuilding Waverley will be achieved and to a quality which we are determined will be second to none.