Not long after we had our trip on Waverley, her owners,
The Caledonian Steam Packet Company, merged with their 'rivals' MacBrayne
to form Caledonian MacBrayne (Cal-Mac for short). As often happens after mergers,
the accountants were looking for ways to rationalise the fleet (the term
downsizing was not then in use). Basically, Waverley's options were limited:
she needed major boiler and furnace repairs, and anyway she was much less efficient
than the new diesel boats. Her fate was likely to be a floating restaurant for the Londoners or a very large number of tins of
Then along came a group of superheroes called the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society who said they'd look after the old girl if she was for sale.
After no haggling at all, she was sold to them for One Pound Sterling. Someone in Cal-Mac cared about her (or had a very strange sense of humour).
Against all expectations, the PSP succeeded. Her engines and boilers were fixed, her funnels painted in the old LNER colours, and she was back in business.
Waverley is still very much alive, and plying her trade (as the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world) all round the coast of Britain - not just the Clyde these days.
Forgive me if this all sounds like a Hollywood movie,with happy ending and all, but it's true.
The reason I put this site together was that I was at anchor in a sailboat, off Cowes, in May 1998. As I was scanning the horizon during lunch, as one does, I spotted a familiar, beamy silhouette. 'Twas her, Waverley, flags flying, paintwork immaculate, rails lined with people, storming along with scarcely a sound.
I live in Connecticut. I seldom visit the UK any more. I've only ever been to the Solent once before. I haven't been back to the Clyde for years.
But there she was.
Good Luck, Waverley. Keep on Steaming.
The pictures below were taken on a trip I took in the Nineties, on the Clyde, but you can take much better pictures yourself. Just take a trip on The Waverley.
For this year's schedule, click here .
No rust streaks here, and you'll notice her funnels aren't smoking
Respendent in Waverley Steam Navigation colours, Waverley approaches Largs in a slight following sea.
All of a sudden, people are realizing what they've missed.
When Waverley appears, the old piers become alive again.
I have no idea where this is. Largs, maybe?
Here we are, snug and warm behind the funnels again.
We can still smell the steam, but the oil smell has gone.
Amazing what a good overhaul by a Clyde shipyard can do.
We're still at the pier, just about to head out into the Firth. Unfortunately, that's all the pictures I've got, so you're going to have to imagine the rest, or take a trip on Waverley yourself.
Most of the Clyde Steamers went to the Breakers Yard.
A small percentage became floating restaurants.
Just one survives as a fully functioning, seagoing steamer.
Waverley was lucky.
I think you should take a look at Queen Mary II, though.
Just click on her image.
|Click on the M.V. Maid of Cumbrae for some Clyde Steamer links, and more information.|