Waverley's Diamond Jubilee Weekend

Words and pictures by Martin Longhurst

After a successful Bristol Channel season, the paddler headed north, first to Belfast for an evening charter on Monday 9 June and then to Greenock. Here she tied up to be ready to take another evening charter from Dunoon to Millport on Thursday. Finally she steamed to Glasgow to commence her Jubilee weekend sailings with her first regular Friday Rothesay trip.

Newly built RFA Lyme Bay about to leave BAE Systems Govan yard for her trials

The Rothesay Harbour Master, in conjunction with the contractors, had cleared a passage through the work site to allow Waverley's passengers to exit from her temporary berth for the summer, across the eastern end of the pier.

The paddler berthed on the eastern end of the pier during our time ashore

The view from the harbour wall

We met Lyme Bay again on the return voyage while she was having her compasses adjusted before heading for the open sea

Saturday 16 June 2007, the 60th anniversary of the steamer's maiden voyage, dawned grey but this did not dispel the enthusiasm of her supporters. Two prominent Scottish politicians had come along to give her a good send off from her Science Centre berth. Mohammad Sarwar, the Westminster MP for Glasgow Central and Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Deputy First Minister of Scotland, both made witty speeches celebrating the diversity of political opinion in Scotland.

Mohammad Sarwar makes his remarks watched by Captain Luke Davies and WEL Chairman, Ian McMillan

Nicola Sturgeon's turn with Waverley's Bosun and Iain MacLeod, WSN Chairman (right) in the background

Nicola Sturgeon and Luke Davies cut the celebratory cake

Pipers provided traditional entertainment

Balloons and confetti were released as the paddler departed

Then off down river for calls at Greenock, Helensburgh and Kilcreggan, where sections of the Argyll Peninsular Pipe Band joined the paddler. Then on to Blairmore where the steamer was officially welcomed to the Trossachs & Loch Lomond National Park. Finally Waverley retraced her maiden voyage course to Arrochar at the head of Loch Long. The old pier there is long derelict but there is a possibility a new pier will be built to improve access to the National Park.

Tug Flying Phantom performed as passengers joined at Greenock

Home base Craigendoran Pier

The Argyll Peninsular Pipers

MOD Police Boat Condor, with three others, escorted the paddler from Blairmore to Arrochar and back

This cake was cut on Blairmore Pier (fruit cake)

WEL Official Jubilee Cake (sponge)


Under the first Clyde Jubilee flag, the cantonal flag of Uri was flown in honour of the Captain of the Lake Lucerne paddler of the same name who was aboard

A Sea King made a fly past

Donkeyman Ian McCorkindale shows off his unique polo shirt - worn for one day only!

The steamer arrived back at Glasgow Pacific Quay at 18.20 and soon the crew were making ready for her evening Show Boat cruise which departed at 19.30. This was reasonably well loaded and turned just north of McInroy's Point.

The view astern on the return from McInroy's Point


Waverley berthed at the Science Centre

Sunday was much brighter but unfortunately Waverley's sailing was delayed by 30 minutes while paramedics attended to a medical emergency. I'm glad to say that we later learned that the casualty had recovered. Calls were made at Helensburgh, Dunoon/ Largs and Rothesay before time ashore at Tighnabruaich. After a light shower as we departed from Glasgow, the day was bright and sunny and much warmer than the previous day.

Loch Shira, the new Cumbrae ferry, departs from Largs

Today, the steamer used the temporary ferry berth at Rothesay while MV Argyle waited on the lay-by berth

Alongside at Tighnabruaich

Passing through the narrows of the Kyles of Bute bound for Rothesay

Passenger numbers were good, especially from Largs. The return time from Tighnabruaich was put back to give an hour ashore so we had plenty of time to enjoy a cream tea and ice creams at Suzy's Tea Room. At Rothesay there was only one berth available owing to the building works and our return conflicted with the arrival of the new Bute ferry, Argyle. Incidentally, we learned that one way to tell her from her running mate, Bute, is that the latter has one hand-drier in the Gents but the former has two! The run up river was uneventful but the steamer was able to make up some time, arriving at the Science Centre just 15 minutes late.

Monday 18 June saw a cruise from Glasgow and Helensburgh to Lochgoilhead (non-landing). A number of invited guests were on board the Waverley today to celebrate her 60 years and they were accommodated in the for'ard bar. The ship performed faultlessly throughout her special weekend which was much appreciated by her many regular passengers and supporters.

Alongside Pacific Quay before her Monday morning departure


Councillor Billie Petrie, Convenor of Argyll & Bute Council, presents a silver bowl to Captain Davies on behalf of his Council to commemorate the Jubilee

Councillor Petrie is joined by the Deputy Lord Provost of Glasgow, Bailie Allan Stewart, to cut another celebratory cake.  In inviting them to do so, Ian McMillan remarked that they represented two disparate districts connected by the Waverley.

John Whittle, the man who master-minded (when he was their Chief Executive) the sale by CalMac of the paddler for a pound, said a few well chosen words indicating the correctness of his decision

Douglas McGowan, who received the said offer, replied with gusto, paying tribute to all those, present today or not, whether volunteer, crew or staff, who had made Waverley's continued success possible.

The paddler turned at Lochgoilhead

Passing Carrick Castle

At Helensburgh Pier, Douglas McGowan, John Whittle and Peter Reid (another WSN founder director) re-enacted the 1974 sale for a pound, shown in the black and white photo.  This features (l to r) Douglas McGowan, John Whittle, the late Sir Patrick Thomas (then Chairman of the Scottish Transport Group) and Terry Sylvester. The pound note came from the Royal Bank of Scotland, courtesy of Douglas.

Two of Waverley's former Engineers, Andy Steele (standing) and Ken Angel

From the past to the future ... HMS Dauntless fitting out at the former Yarrow yard

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