2023 saw a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of Paddle Steamer Waverley. Less than 3 weeks into the year and a public appeal was launched to raise £180,000 towards a £250,000 shortfall to afford the costs associated with her annual dry docking and recommissioning for another season.
By the close of the season in October over 157,000 passenger journeys had generated record revenues with no sailings lost across the entire season due to technical issues. Sufficient income was earned to meet the annual maintenance cost of the current winter refit, barring any unexpected additional works.
Waverley embarked passengers at 60 ports and piers around the UK with over 30% of sailings sold out in advance or with sections of a day’s sailing fully booked. The ship visited all four countries in the UK across a five day period – has this ever been achieved by a paddle steamer previously?
Sir Tim Laurence, husband of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, accepted an invitation to become Patron for Waverley Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. having visited the ship two days before she entered service back in May. Sir Tim later enjoyed an evening cruise from Gravesend to London in early October and was impressed by the ship and her unique charm.
Several calling points which have been absent from the timetables for decades were re-established including Craignure, Troon, Tenby, Portishead and Ipswich. Shoreham-on-sea and Warrenpoint saw Waverley offering a sailing for the first time.
The 76 images with captions can be viewed on the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society website.