Waverley at Ilfracombe

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

Waverley at Ilfracombe

2019 marks the 40th anniversary since Paddle Steamer Waverley first visited the Bristol Channel and offering sailings to and from Ilfracombe. Waverley’s first excursion to Ilfracombe was on Saturday 2nd June 1979 from Avonmouth – at that time it was the first such trip by a paddle steamer for 12 years. On that first visit she also met Balmoral which was then operating under P. & A. Campbell Ltd. It would be 7 years later before the two vessels would become fleet mates under the PSPS banner.

Following her first successful visit to the Bristol Channel Waverley has visited in most of the intervening years. In 2018 she enjoyed a very successful five day spell on the channel with full loadings on several days.

The following pictures record some of Waverley’s visits to Ilfracombe. The pier has changed substantially over the years. The first pier was opened in 1823 to allow steamers to berth at all states of tide. In 1952 the pier saw major work but was demolished in 2004 to make way for the current pier. Even though the current pier is substantially smaller in size it still allows Waverley to access it at all states of the tide.

Waverley moves astern from Ilfracombe as onlookers admire from the top walkway of the pier during her 1982 season.Stuart Cameron

Waverley berths at Ilfracombe Pier during her 1985 season.Tony Horn

This image gives an impression of the size of the pier at Ilfracombe in the mid 1980s.Tony Horn

On the high water berth in June 1996. Tony Horn

Waverley approaches the pier returning from an afternoon cruise during her 1996 season. Tony Horn

With steam in evidence from her whistle Waverley backs away from Ilfracombe for an afternoon cruise to Bull Point during her 2006 season. Alan Graham

Waverley berthed at the inner side of the pier (high water berth) with the Oldenburg just ahead of her. Alan Graham

Waverley moves astern as she departs the pier during her 2013 season on the Channel. Alan Graham

Looking down on Ilfracombe Harbour from Hillsborough Down with Waverley and Oldenburg at the pier. Alan Graham

The statue on Capstone Hill (of a Russian girl who was lost in fog on Hillsborough Down and fell to her death) with Waverley moving astern to clear Ilfracombe harbour. Alan Graham

The following video records Waverley departing Ilfracombe in 2006 during the town’s annual Victorian Festival (note the Victorian dress of some of her passengers.)


Details of Waverley’s 2019 Bristol Channel sailings have yet to be published. Sign up for an e-newsletter by visiting the Waverley Excursions website.