WAVERLEY Excursions have announced that LNER-built PS Waverley, the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer, will not sail at all in 2019 and will remain tied up until at least 2020.
Work on retubing and repairing the ship’s boilers was suspended on Friday 10 May after it became clear that new boilers were needed. Management reluctantly took the decision to cancel all sailings for 2019 and to launch an appeal to meet the cost of new boilers to allow the ship to take to the waters again in 2020.
Recently appointed general manager, Paul Semple said: “We have taken this decision after extensive consultation and seeking advice on the best way forward and we apologise to all who looked forward to sailing with us this season. Full refunds will be given on all booked tickets. The ship needs new boilers but, in every other respect, is in excellent order. As soon as we have firm prices and explored potential funding sources, we will launch a public appeal to help meet the costs so we can sail again in 2020.”
Mooring the boat at its Glasgow base for the entire season, will have revenue implications for the charity, while early estimates for new boilers point to a figure in excess of £2m. Not only will part of the ship’s superstructure have to be removed to allow the old boilers to be removed and replacements fitted, but there are issues to be addressed when specifying the new boilers. These include being able to burn acceptable fuel types in future and meeting tightening emission regulations to future-proof Waverley in afast-changing environmental culture. These issues are increasingly affecting all steam-powered vessels, locomotives and vehicles in the heritage sector as action on climate change ramps up.