Waverley appeal underway

The paddle steamer Waverley sails into Rothesay Bay.
The paddle steamer Waverley sails into Rothesay Bay.

An appeal to raise £2.3 million was launched last week to return the Waverley to service in 2020, ensuring that a unique piece of maritime heritage linked to Bute stays alive.

Among the crowds at Glasgow’s Pacific Quay were politicians, mariners, enthusiasts and the general public — all determined to show support for the famous paddle steamer.

Waverley’s 2019 season was cancelled last month, following the discovery of major problems with the ship’s 20-year old boilers. Since then, individuals have started to respond with more than £100,000 already donated.

“We’re heartened by the support so far – it’s clear that huge numbers of people in Britain and from around the world want to see the Waverley sail again,” said Paul Semple, who heads the team which operates the ship. “But the financial challenge which faces Waverley remains very significant, and we urgently need more funds to let us place the orders and then carry out the work over the next nine months,” he said.

The sheer scale of what is required has been likened to a kind of marine ‘open heart surgery’.

The iconic red, white and black twin funnels will have to be lifted off, and large sections of decking removed to allow the boilers and other equipment to be lifted out.

The replacements will extend Waverley’s operational life by a further 20 to 25 years of sailing ‘doon the watter’.