Waverley marks 70th birthday of paddler

SHE first turned her paddle wheels on her maiden voyage on June 16, 1947. Now, 70 years later, on Friday June 16, 2017, PS Waverley, the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer, will retrace her route by sailing from Glasgow to Blairmore and back, marking a unique, seven decades of service on the Clyde.

Waverley Excursions chief, Kathleen O’Neill, chats to Peter Forbes of Mackays boat bulders of Arbroath as he caulks in the traditional way. PHOTOS: HUGH DOUGHERTY

Waverley Excursions chief executive, Kathleen O’Neill, said: “We will be marking the event on 16 June as it is a remarkable that the ship is still sailing seven decades after her launch. That is only thanks to a great deal of dedication and hard work by our staff, crew and volunteers, as well as the support of our passengers.”

Engineers and volunteers are working flat out to have the ship ready for the big day, with chief engineer Alec Sneddon, heading up the team after long-term, senior chief engineer, Ken Henderson, decided to step back into a consultancy role.

Paying tribute to Ken’s outstanding contribution to the good health of Waverley over two decades, Kathleen O’Neill said: “Ken’s expertise isn’t lost to us, and Alex Sneddon is a highly-experienced steam engineer, but we are very keen to hear from any engineers with a steam ticket who might like to join us for a week or two over the summer to help out our full-time staff. Working with us for a short period would be a unique experience and it might well suit a recently-retired steam engineer or someone who wants to build on existing experience.”

This year’s winter maintenance programme includes a major low pressure cylinder and condenser overhaul by staff and volunteers. Caulking of timber decking sections using traditional techniques delivered by MacKay Boatbuilders of Arbroath has also been carried out to eliminate leaks caused by modern silicone-based sealant systems breaking down after a short period at sea.

Repairs under way to the LP cylinder and slipper block.

 Waverley has also been successful in attracting new, highly-skilled volunteers. Lewis Jorgensen has joined work parties after 50 years of high-level steam and diesel marine, engineering experience, including with Northern Marine, and Stewart Davis, recently-retired managing director of Glasgow-based Polar Engines, has also joined the team. “I love it here,” said Stewart. “I sailed on the ship as a wee boy and, now, using all that I learned over 54 years at Polar Engines, I’m helping to keep her in service.”

New hands: volunteers Stewart Davis ( left) and Lewis Jorgensen have 104 years of marine engineering experience between them.

“We’re fortunate to have a great team of volunteers,” said Kathleen. “But we always need more. If you would like to join us as we celebrate our ship’s 70th birthday, or, better still, if you are have a marine steam engineer’s ticket, please contact me at kathleen@waverleyexcursions.co.uk”.





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