Introducing Waverley

Waverley is named after Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels. She was built to replace the 1899 Waverley which was sunk by enemy action on May 29, 1940 at Dunkirk.

Waverley’s keel was laid on December 27, 1945 but due to material shortages after the war, she was not ready for launch until October 2, 1946. It wasn’t until the following year on January 20, 1947 that she was towed to Greenock for the installation of her boiler and engines. Her maiden voyage was on June 16, 1947.

Waverley was built for the route up Loch Goil and Loch Long from Craigendoran & Arrochar in West Scotland. She now visits several areas of the UK offering regular trips on the Clyde, The Western Isles, the Thames, South Coast of England and the Bristol Channel with calls at Liverpool & Llandudno.

Waverley is the World’s last seagoing paddle steamer. In 1974, at the end of her working life, she was famously gifted for £1 to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. Waverley Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., a charity registered in Scotland, was set up to own and operate the ship. Waverley then began a second career as one of the country’s best-loved tourist attractions. Since she has been in operational preservation, she has been awarded four stars by Visit Scotland, an engineering heritage award, and has carried over 6 million passengers from over 60 ports around the UK.

2003 saw the completion of a £7m Heritage Rebuild which returned Waverley to the original 1940s style in which she was built. This was made possible with major grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS). Contributions also came from Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise Glasgow, the European Regional Development Fund and local authorities.

In May 2019 Waverley was withdrawn from service and a capital appeal was launched to raise £2.3 million to allow her boilers to be replaced and re-commission Waverley for further service. In December 2019 it was announced that the appeal target had been reached.

Despite delays to the boiler refit due to the COVID-19 pandemic Waverley returned to service in August 2020 and operated a short season on the Firth of Clyde. After a successful season on the Clyde the following year, Waverley will be returning to other sailing areas in 2022.

2022 marked 75 years since Waverley’s maiden voyage on June 16, 1947. 

Paddle steamer history

In 1812, when Henry Bell’s paddle steamer Comet became the world’s first commercial steamship to operate in coastal waters, a tradition was started which remains alive today only in the form of the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer, Waverley.

From the 1860’s onward, paddle steamers developed an important niche in the coastal passenger and excursion trade. Large fleets served the cities, towns, villages and resorts of the Firth of Clyde, the Bristol Channel, the South Coast of England, London and the Thames Estuary.

Paddle Steamers also made a significant contribution to the war effort as minesweepers in both World Wars, and indeed Waverley is named after and was built to replace the previous Waverley who performed a heroic role at Dunkirk in May 1940 before being sunk by enemy action.

With a few exceptions, the Clyde steamers were owned and operated by railway companies. These were largely commuter ferries linking all the villages with the nearest railhead for onward travel.

There are two other operational paddle steamers in the UK – PS Kingswear Castle and PS Monarch. Kingswear Castle sails on the River Dart in Devon and Monarch operates from Wareham in Dorset.

Steam power

Waverley has everything to offer the steam enthusiast. At the heart of the Ship is her magnificent 2100 horsepower, triple expansion reciprocating steam engine, open to full public view.

Watch the Chief or 2nd Engineer operate the engine as we arrive and depart from piers on your cruise. The Engineer on watch will be able to answer any technical questions you may have (if he is not too busy!).

Also visible through portholes in the ship’s hull are Waverley’s famous paddle wheels, hear the clang of the telegraph as the Captain sends instructions to turn the paddles ahead or astern.

On deck, the crew operate Waverley’s steam powered Windlass at the bow and the Capstan aft as the ship arrives and berths at the piers we visit.

Almost all of Waverley’s machinery including the steering and all the main pumps are powered by steam from her two massive oil-fired boilers.

Technical Data

Passenger Paddle Steamer. Construction: Riveted steel. Hull designed by A&J Inglis at Glasgow in 1946, built 1947 by A. & J. Inglis Ltd. at Pointhouse.

LOA: 240′ 0″, Beam: 58′ 0″, Draft: 6′ 0″, Displacement: 1524600 lbs. Hull Number 1330P. The ‘P’ signifies the Pointhouse yard as A&J Inglis was by that time part of Harland and Wolff in Belfast. Originally certificated to carry 1350 passengers. With almost 70 years of updates to worldwide passenger carrying regulations and safety policies in place, Waverley’s carrying capacity has gradually been reduced and she can now carry up to 860 passengers.

3 pass wetback reversal chamber built and designed by Cochran of Annan, installed April 2020. Fuel: Marine Gas Oil, Pressure: 180 psi, Output: 22500 lbs/hr, 105″ dia X 199″ long Steel barrel. 184 X 2″ dia Steel tubes. Welded with rolled in fire tubes construction, condensing, forced draft fan, steam feed pump, electric feed pump, feed water heater, whistle, Originally fitted with a double ended Scotch boiler, this was replaced in 1981 with a Babcock Steambloc boiler.

Diagonal Triple Expansion. 24″ + 39″ + 62″ X 66″ Built 1947 by Rankin & Blackmore Ltd. at Greenock Design: Paddle Inside PV on HP. Outside PV on MP. Bal SV on LP valve. Stephenson valve gear. Power: 2100 HP Engine Number 520. Normal service speed of 13 knots at 44 rpm. Maximum speed 18 knots at 57 rpm. Shell and tube surface condenser. Full set of steam auxiliaries.

8 Feathering floats. 216″ diameter, 132″ wide. Each paddle float is 36″ deep. There are always two full floats worth in the water at any one time. Each float is 33 square feet in area.