Glasgow & West Scotland

Waverley paddle steamer appeal given £1m from Scottish government

Waverley Image copyright Scottish government

The famous Waverley paddle steamer is a step closer to sailing again after a £1m boost from the Scottish government.

The 70-year-old ship has been out of service for the 2019 season as it awaits urgent repairs.

The cash brings the appeal total to £1.9m but the tourist favourite needs £2.3m to set sail in 2020, the Year of Coasts and Waters.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the cash grant on a visit to the vessel on Friday.

'Cultural history'

She said: "The Waverley is such an iconic treasure for Scotland and we are going to support the boiler refit appeal with £1m.

"It is important that we get the Waverley, the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world, sailing again - particularly because next year is Scotland's year of coasts and waters.

"It's part of our cultural and social history. Many people grew up sailing on the Waverley and they want to make sure their children get the chance to do that."

Image copyright Scottish government

Named after Sir Walter Scott's debut novel, The Waverley was built just after World War Two as a replacement for a vessel sunk during the Dunkirk evacuation.

In 1975, at the end of its working life, it was bought for £1 by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.

For generations of Scots it has been a familiar sight, offering "doon the watter" trips along the west coast, carrying 130,000 passengers a year.

For more than seven decades it has transported millions of passengers to a variety of locations throughout the UK.

The steamer undertook its maiden voyage in 1947 and is registered as part of the National Historic Fleet as being a vessel of pre-eminent national significance.

But it urgently requires new boilers, forcing all excursions in 2019 to be cancelled.

'Catalyst for donations'

The fundraising cash will go towards replacing the twin boilers as well as other necessary maintenance and upkeep such as replacing the main electrical switch board, new cabling and installing new generators.

General manager of Waverley Excursions, Paul Semple said: "This announcement changes the whole feel of our appeal, but there remains a gap of £400,000 that we have to meet in order to return Waverley to service for 2020.

"I hope people will see the Scottish government support as a catalyst for further donations and corporate support.

Image caption Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the cash from the Scottish government on a visit to the Waverley

"This is changing the appeal and giving us a real focus to get the Waverley back for 2020 to celebrate the year of coasts and waters."

He added the appeal would fund some major restoration on the well-loved steamer.

He said: "We need to remove iconic funnels, lift the deck, take out the boilers and generators and replace it all.

"It's a big job. I have likened it to open heart surgery.

"It is like a heart transplant for the Waverley, to return her back to service."

The Waverley - facts and figures

  • Built by A. & J. Inglis of Glasgow and launched in October 1946.
  • Entered service with the London and North Eastern Railway in June 1947, working LNER's Firth of Clyde steamer route from Craigendoran Pier, near Helensburgh, to Arrochar.
  • Powered by a three-crank diagonal triple-expansion marine steam engine built by Rankin & Blackmore in Greenock.
  • Now painted in original LNER 1947 livery of red, white and black funnels, traditional brown-grained (or "scumbled") superstructure and black paddle-wheel boxes.
  • July 1977 - badly damaged when she struck rocks near Dunoon. The heavier than normal post-war construction which made provision for possible future military use as a minesweeper may have helped her stay together while she was refloated.
  • June 2009 - struck the breakwater at Dunoon with 700 passengers on board, 12 of whom suffered minor injuries.
  • Since being sold to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, the steamer has carried more than five million passengers.

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