Impressions of Relaunch Weekend
Waverley alongside Anderston Quay shortly before the Relaunch Celebration Cruise.
A crowd of excited passengers gathered in smart dress at Anderston Quay on Friday 18 August 2000 full of expectation, waiting to join the Rebuilt Waverley. Crew members and volunteers scurried about with boxes of this and that trying to make the Waverley shipshape.
A pipe band and a jazz band boarded to provide entertainment. Reporters and photographers got quotes and took pictures for tomorrow's papers. Finally, passengers were allowed to board eagerly to get their first sight of the new layout and decor.
There was a distinct impression that you were on a new ship with fresh paintwork and brand new furniture all around. But there were flashes of the past everywhere - the Purser's Office Door - the Landing Platform Steps - some of the benches. And of course the interior of the accommodation for'ard was basically unchanged.
Glasgow's Lord Provost made a short speech and the paddler set off into a new era of her life. Aboard were some 476 invited guests and passengers, all to be served buck's fizz and dinner in three and a half hours.
The Menu was:
Waverley Relaunch Celebration Cruise
Poached Scottish Salmon & Scallops
Roast Rib of Beef (served with Horseradish Sauce)
Baked Ham with a Honey & Clove Glaze
Stilton & Chestnut Pate
Scottish Haggis & Whisky Sauce
Buttered Baby Potatoes
Salads of Continental Lettuces
Mexican - Florida - Pasta - Rice
Dinner Roll & Butter
Selection of Fine Scottish Cheese & Oatcakes
Tea, Coffe & Mints
The steamer made good time and was able to get as far as Gourrock before turning back for Anderston Quay.
Saturday saw the first full day cruise to Greenock, Helensburgh, Dunoon, Rothesay and Tighnabruaich. The weather was sunshine and showers, fortunately with the former predominating. An excellent response from the public meant that altogether 940 passengers enjoyed a trip on board. Unfortunately the consequence of this was increased time at each pier to transfer the large numbers involved. Time keeping was not helped by intermittent difficulties with the port boiler, which kept the steamer's speed down.
Overnight the boiler fuel pump was replaced and Sunday's cruise went ahead as planned. The route of Waverley's Maiden Voyage in 1947 was retraced from Craigendoran to Arrochar, with 551 on board as she turned at the head of Loch Long. Again the weather was favourable, with the steamer piped into and out of each pier by a piper on board, as had been the case on Saturday.
Stern view at Anderston Quay
The sounds of the ship have changed. With the minute realignment of the main engine and the paddle shafts, vibration has been virtually eliminated from this source and this, together with the removal of the fan engine, means that the loudest sounds in the Engine Room are the steam flowing to and fro in the pipework and the singing of the circulating pump. On deck there is no rumble from the paddle wheels and there is an absence of diesel generator noise. Occasionally there is a roaring from the furnace under the for'ard funnel.
Visually, the change to brown upper works has little impact from a distance - but close up the scumbling (wood grain effect simulated in paint) is stunning. Coupled with much new timber work, the period atmosphere is captured, especially on the Observation Deck as the white plastic chairs and lifejacket stowage have been banished, and the decking is carried over the Purser's Office.
The new funnels are in alignment and are painted a lighter, more orangey hue than the previous ones. The original shape adds to the lighter feel and the rivets complete the transformation. The fiddleys are also now brown instead of black and now neither funnel gets warm. The short 'mushroom' ventilators have reverted to full-size.
Below, the Engine Room alleyways are now painted in yellow. The colour scheme has changed in the Engine Room itself and on the starboard side of the Control Platform is the new period-style electrical control cabinet, with gleaming brass setting off the overall black colour, taken to follow that of Waverley's original one, removed some years ago.
The Dining Saloon is unrecognizable with a new layout capturing the period atmosphere. In the centre is the new Emergency Escape, which emerges in the After Deck. Behind this is the Servery, which is nothing but sparkling modernity with stainless steel all about and a glimpse through the bulkhead of the all-new Galley. The Lower Dining Saloon is now available for public use when numbers warrant it, as they did over the Relaunch Weekend.
The new catering outlet, in the After Deck Shelter, is the Caledonian Tea Room. The Servery had not been fully commissioned but refreshments were purveyed for a few hours on Sunday. The structure of the Shelter is totally new, being fabricated out of aluminium, but careful use of materials creates the illusion of a heritage item. There is now only one sliding door each side opening into a lobby outside the Purser's Office, with access to the Tea Room now being internal with sliding doors either side of the companionway.
Removed from the After Deck Shelter are the toilets. The Disabled Toilet remains in its previous location, however. There is now only one set for each sex, opening off the Engine Room alleyways, Gents in the starboard sponson and Ladies to port. The standard is modern and very high and the vacuum disposal system removes any danger of blow back!
A final touch is the signage. All around the ship there are engraved plastic signs in the style of the LNER, the ship's original owners.
I could write a lot more but you should take the earliest opportunity to see for yourself.
All concerned with the Rebuild, in whatever capacity, have done an excellent job and are to be congratulated.
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