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Waverley

On the 2nd of october 1946, the London & North Eastern Railway Company launched their fourth Waverley of 693 tons. She was built under yardnumber 1330P. She is a handsome looking paddlewheeler, with a lenght of 73,03 meters, a width of 9,20 meters (not counting the paddlewheels) and a draft of 2,01 meters. The ship was built at the wharf of A. & J. Ingliss at Glasgow, Scotland. The new Waverley replaced a ship of the same name and the same type that had been built in 1889. This Waverley was also used as a minesweeper in the second worldwar, untill she was sunk at the evacuation of Duinkerken in 1940. 

Below is Waverley, practicly the same as when she was built. This picture was shot at Portsmouth harbour at the 16th of september of 1997.

 

Waverley sailed services between Helensburgh and Arrochar on the Firth of Clyde via Loch Long, starting this service at the 16th of june 1947. For this, she was fitted out for 1350 daypassengers. On newyearsday 1948, just a year after her services had started, the British government nationalized the railways and the 'Big Four' railwaycompanies that were formed in the restructuring of the 1st of january 1923, merged into British Rail. As a result of this, the fleets of the LNER and the LMS (London, Midland & Scottish Railway) were amalgamated as Scottish Shipping Services under the management of the British Transport Commission. This meant of course also, that the London & North Eastern Railway Company ceased to excist. A few years later, in 1951, Waverley was placed in the fleet of the Caledonian Steam Packet Company. This company's history dates back to 1889, when it was formed to sail ferryservices in western Scotland to complement the services of the Caledonian Railway. For Waverley, this meant that her traditional LNER-colours were replaced by the colours of the Caledonian Steam Packet Company, so her funnels became yellow with black tops. From 1965 to 1970, the ship recieved a Scottish red lion rampant fixed to both sides of the funnel and her hull was painted monastral blue.

In 1957, the Waverley was reverted from a coal-burner to an oil-burner. But over the years, the Glaswegians changed their wishes for holidaymaking and passengernumbers declined slowly. Next to this, much of the small piers used by the service were closed. The Caledonian Steam Packet Company's management passed to the Scottish Transport Group in december 1968, and in june 1969, the Scottish Transport Group also took control over the ferrycompany of David MacBrayne Ltd.. After this, the Clyde services of David MacBrayne were discontinued, leaving them sailing services from the West Highlands. Caledonian Steam Packet Company sailed the Clyde services. At the 1st of january 1973, Caledonian Steam Packet Company bought the routes and ships of David MacBrayne and the name for the new company became Caledonian-MacBrayne Ltd..  For Waverley, this meant the end of her services with the company. After the 1973 season, the ship was laid up for sale. 

She was now 27 years old and it seemed very unlikely that the paddlewheeler would be sailing any more ferryservices. Even on the Clyde, where paddlewheelers were a very common sight, it seemed tthat modern ships would be the future. But it was not the end for this lovely ship, because she was bought by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society one year later for the symbolic amount of one pound. Caledonian MacBrayne was glad that the ship was preserved, the only note was that the ship would not be in competition with their own pleasure steamer TS Queen Mary. The PSPS already owned the 1924-built paddlewheeler Kingswear Castle, a ship they had bought in 1967. They collected money to restore the Waverley in her original colours as an excursion vessel. The PSPS founded the Waverley Excursions Ltd., for whom the ship would sail. Her funnels were painted red with a black top, with a white band in between. These were the colours of the LNER. In a new role, the ship was again sailing the river Clyde with 600 excursion passengers to keep the memory of the great fleet of Clyde paddlewheelers alive.

On the 28th of april 1977, Waverley set sail for Liverpool and Llandudno and she left the Clyde for the first time in her life. After that succesfull cruise, she also started trips to the southern part of England and the Irish Sea. On the evening of Friday 15 July 1977, Waverley returned  from a cruise and while approaching Dunoon pier she suffered steering problems. Because of this, the ship struck The Gantocks, some rocks to the south of the pier. The ship went aground and was damaged extensively, it was even thought the ship would not hold together while it was attempted to refloat her. But the ship was stronger then people thought, thanks to her post World War II construction which was stronger then normal, because the ship was built with provision for minesweeping gear and a deck gun in case she was ever requisitioned by the Admiralty for use in a future conflict. But her sailings were not limited to British waters though, because the ship is still considered seaworthy. On the 12th of may 1980, she was sailing across the English Channel to Cap Griz Nez on the Northcoast of France. She did this, to remember the evacuation of Duinkerken where the Waverley she had replaced was sank in 1940, 40 years earlier. She recieved a new boiler in 1981 and started cruising around Great Britain and she became a familiar sight across the country. The 50-year remembrance of the evacuation of Duinkerken was in 1990 a new reason to go back to France. 

In 1998, the ship was awarded a huge subsidy to be restored, a restoration that took place between 2000 and 2003 by George Prior Engineering at Great Yarmouth, mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. After this, the ship was listed in the British National Register of Hisoric Ships, named a 'vessel of pre-eminent national importance'. The ship was now totally brought back to the state she was in when she first commenced service at the Clyde, more then 50 years earlier. The only novelty was that Waverley was fitted with the modern safety regulations so she could still be called seaworty. This makes her the only paddlewheeler in the world that still is able to sail at sea and next to that she is the last survivor of the Clyde fleet. It is great to see a ship of this class still actively sailing. Waverley is still a very popular ship in Great Britain and a unique one in the world. She gives her passengers also an unique look at her steamengine, built by Rankin & Blackmore Engineers of the Eagle Foundry in Greenock, because belowdecks, two passageways surround the engineroom for everyone to see.

Waverley suffered one small incident at the 19th of june 2004, when she was grounded near Campbelltown, Kintyre. Damage was minimum, luckily, but she was two hours late because of it. A few years later, she ran into Worthing pier at the 15th of september 2008, but damage was only to the pier and not to the ship. Another mishap happened at the 26th of june 2009, when she struck the Dunoon pier, that was all to familiar to her. Of the 700 people on board, 12 suffered minor injuries. These problems aside, the Waverley is a very reliable ship, and it is often said she is the most photographed ship in the world. I am at least very happy that I was able to see her too, and I am glad that I have added her to this website.

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