Paddle Steamer Waverley, built 70 years ago, is the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer.
In 1974, at the end of her working life, she was famously bought for £1 by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. Waverley Steam Navigation Co. Ltd, a charity registered in Scotland, was set up to operate the ship and her first sailing in preservation was May 21st, 1975.
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, was voted Glasgow’s favourite tourist attraction, starred in a Hollywood film, makes regular appearances on TV, has hosted a number of events for famous personalities as well as carrying over 5 million passengers from over 80 ports around the UK.
Waverley is a unique piece of Britain’s maritime heritage, bringing pleasure to tens of thousands every summer. She has been magnificently restored with towering funnels, timber decks, gleaming varnish and brass.
She is not just a ship – she manages to create a community spirit among her passengers as she charms her way around the country. Its not until you get on-board that you understand her magnetism. Her passengers feel a sense of ownership and, once in Waverley’s thrall, return time and time again for a reason many of them can’t explain – for some there is a great affection but for many it is a way of life.
2003 saw the completion of a major restoration project, 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. Contributions also came from Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise Glasgow, the European Regional Development Fund and local authorities.
Today the ship receives funding from the PSPS, Glasgow City Council, Inverclyde Council, Argyll & Bute Council, North and South Ayrshire Councils.
A number of companies support the ship’s preservation through membership of the Corporate Friend’s of Waverley Scheme and the ship receives the benefit of reduced charges from many suppliers.
2017 marked 70 years since Waverley’s maiden voyage on 16 June, 1947.