Waverley at Gravesend

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

Waverley at Gravesend

Paddle Steamer Waverley has been using Gravesend Town Pier Pontoon since it opened in 2012. The steel pontoon, which is joined to the Town Pier by a 45m steel gangway, also provides access to the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry.

Use of the pontoon by Waverley is key to her Thames operation since the pier provides an essential overnight berth allowing her to take fuel, fresh water and stores. Almost all of her sailings in the 2018 programme included a call at Gravesend. The north west Kent town also provides many fare paying passengers.

Over the past few years local Gravesend resident Jason Arthur has been keen to capture Waverley at the rebuilt pier. Once again Jason has kindly shared some of his images with PSPS.

On a bright morning on Tuesday 25th September Waverley departs Gravesend at the start of her Thames sailings with the pilot boat assisting as she turns to port to head downriver.

Having turned with her bow now pointing down river Waverley’s cruise to Southend, Clacton and the River Blackwater get underway. A Cruise & Maritime Voyages vessel is seen berthed at Tilbury.

Waverley looks impressive as she starts another cruise.

Departing Gravesend for Southend on an occasion where she was already facing downriver.

The sun rises over the lower Thames Estuary as viewed from Waverley’s aft deck.

Waverley approaches her overnight berth at Gravesend at the end of a day’s cruising.

Waverley heads upriver with a good compliment of passengers on one of her popular trips to London.

Paddle Power.

On Sunday 30th September Jason captured Waverley on her River Medway cruise. This was a well timed shot with her whistle blowing.

At the official opening of the new Gravesend pontoon on 29th September 2012 Captain Ian F D Clark, AFNI, then Master of the Waverley remarked: “We are often faced with pier closures or trying to make do with old, fragile and unsuitable facilities. Yet here we have a brand new pontoon… intelligently designed, with modern levels of safety, lighting and access. The approach for ships is clear and generally in line with the ebb and flow of the river. The pontoon fits our ships like a glove.

2018 marked 40 years since Waverley first visited the Thames (and the south coast). Her first visit to London’s river was in April 1978. That first arrival in the Pool of London was caught on film and is one of many historic videos on the PSPS YouTube Channel.

Waverley’s 2018 visit to the Thames was slightly delayed due to weather (storm bound in Southampton) but she did then operate successfully for 11 days carrying good loadings. With each passing season it seems there is an increase in the number of photographs of Waverley appearing online and on social media. Check out the PSPS Twitter feed to view many of the images and videos of her during her recent Thames adventure.

The following video records Waverley’s passage under Tower Bridge on 29th September 2018. Check out further videos on the PSPS YouTube Channel and subscribe.