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Media captionThe Waverley retraces maiden voyage on its 70th anniversary

The world’s last sea-going paddle steamer is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its maiden voyage.

PS Waverley entered service on 16 June 1947, sailing from the Clyde, near Helensburgh, up Loch Long to Arrochar

She was given a celebratory send off with a piper in Glasgow before retracing her first voyage.

Among the 300 people travelling on board were two men who, as children, were passengers on that maiden sailing back in 1947.

Image copyright Waverley Excursons
Image caption Passengers were offered slices of cake featuring a picture of the maiden voyage

Named after Sir Walter Scott’s debut novel, she was the second steamship to bear the name PS Waverley

She was built as a replacement for another ship that was sunk during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 after being requisitioned as a minesweeper.

PS Waverley was launched the previous year, but materials were so short after the war, there were delays in fitting her boiler.

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

She then began a second career as one of the country’s best-loved tourist attractions, and now carries about 130,000 passengers a year.

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.”

The ship is operated by Waverley Steam Navigation Company Limited.

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.
  • 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, she has carried more than five million passengers.


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