Celebrations for Waverley’s 70th year of sailing

Waverley recreated her maiden voyage of 70 years ago, travelling from Glasgow to Loch Long with hundreds of well-wishers aboard.
Waverley recreated her maiden voyage of 70 years ago, travelling from Glasgow to Loch Long with hundreds of well-wishers aboard.

This year is a big one for one of Rothesay’s most beloved visitors, the paddle steamer Waverley.

June 16 marked the 70th anniversary of the boat’s maiden voyage in 1947, and the occasion was celebrated heartily.

Waverley was once part of a whole fleet of Clyde steamers, but after extensive refurbishment works is now the last passenger-carrying paddle steamer still sea-going.

Celebrations marked the occasion on June 16 with an anniversary cake and a launch of 70 balloons in Glasgow.

Waverley then set sail retracing her maiden voyage of 70 years ago on a cruise to Loch Long, with hundreds of well wishers and passengers onboard.

One of the passengers joining the celebrations, Mr James Stevenson, was aboard for Waverley’s first trip and has sailed on her most, if not every year.

As a child born in Manchester during the Second World War he was sent to stay with his grandparents in Rothesay and has had a lifelong love for the coastlines of Scotland ever since.

Mr Stevenson presented a ‘message in a bottle’ to Waverley to mark the anniversary.

He said: “My association with Waverley started 70 years ago and thanks to the heroic efforts of countless numbers of people, she has been restored for future generations to enjoy.”

Rothesay’s own James McMillan also spoke fondly of the Waverley, having served as a director of Waverley Excursions between 2004 and 2014.

He now co-ordinates the organisation’s volunteers, as a volunteer himself.

James told the Buteman: “Waverley has defied the odds in being preserved so well and in still going strong after all this time.

“It’s all the great people working behind the scenes who keep her going, they really go the extra mile.

“Rothesay has benefited so much over the years from her visits, you only have to look out at the pier on a Saturday and see the groups disembarking and heading into town.

“It would be a poorer place if it wasn’t for the Waverley’s visits.”

Speaking of the lasting fondness for Waverley, Captain Ross Cochrane said: “Waverley’s attraction lies in a mix of things - the heritage, history, social history, maritime history, engineering history and the scenery.

“But I think more than anything, it’s just a great day out.”