Labour MSP Neil Bibby is backing the Save the Waverley boiler refit appeal to help get the famous historic paddle steamer sailing again on the Clyde and along the west coast of Scotland.
Summer sailings on the Waverley were cancelled due to mechanical problems – the first summer in 45 years that the paddle steamer has not sailed. Now Waverley enthusiasts, mariners and members of the public are being asked to donate to a £2.3 million appeal to refit the boiler system and save the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer.
Neil Bibby, MSP for West Scotland, said: “The Waverley has been withdrawn from service this summer and a £2.3 million boiler refit is needed if she is ever to sail again.
As one of many people who have sailed on her, I want to ensure future generations including my own children can sail on the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer for years to come. In addition to being an important and working part of our industrial heritage, we must also recognise the unique contribution the Waverley makes to tourism in the West of Scotland, bringing many visitors to towns and villages on the Clyde Coast.
“The Waverley is iconic, fondly remembered, instantly recognisable to so many here and beyond – it is a symbol of Scotland. I hope individuals, businesses, the community and Government too will support this appeal. She has to be saved and she has to sail again.”
Photo: Neil Bibby MSP on board with the Waverley with his colleagues Jackie Baillie MSP and Paul Semple, General Manager of Waverley Excursions
Waverley’s 2019 season was cancelled last month, following the discovery of major problems with the ship’s 20-year old boilers. Since then, individuals have started to respond with over £100,000 already donated. The Waverley Facebook page recording over a million hits when the news broke.
“We’re heartened by the support so far — it’s clear that huge numbers of people around Britain and around the world want to see Waverley sail again” said Paul Semple, who heads the team which operates the ship. “But the financial challenge which faces Waverley remains very significant, and we urgently need more funds to let us place the orders and then carry out the work over the next nine months.”
The sheer scale of what is required has been likened to a kind of marine ‘open heart surgery’. The iconic red, white and black twin funnels will be lifted off, and large sections of decking removed to allow the boilers and other equipment to be lifted out. The replacements are expected to extend Waverley’s operational life by a further 20 to 25 years.
The Waverley company has taken recent weeks to make a detailed and costed plan, and now it’s all about raising the funds to make it happen. “There’s a real determination not to allow Waverley to become a static relic. She was built to sail, and that’s what so many people want to see again. Waverley’s truly unique status as the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer mustn’t be taken for granted. Not for the first time, the future of the ship hangs in the balance. Once again, it’s time to save the Waverley.”