The famous Waverley paddle steamer is a step closer to sailing again after a £1m boost from the Scottish government. The cash brings the appeal total to £1.9m, however £2.3m is needed for the 70-year-old ship to set sail in 2020 during the Year of Coasts and Waters.
Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, announced the cash grant on a visit to the vessel last Friday. She says: “The Waverley is such an iconic treasure for Scotland and we are going to support the boiler refit appeal with £1m.
“It is important that we get the Waverley, the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world, sailing again – particularly because next year is Scotland’s year of coasts and waters.
“It’s part of our cultural and social history. Many people grew up sailing on the Waverley and they want to make sure their children get the chance to do that.”
Named after Sir Walter Scott’s debut novel, the Waverley was built just after WWII as a replacement for a vessel sunk during the Dunkirk evacuation.
In 1975, at the end of its working life, it was bought for £1 by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.
For generations of Scots, it has been a familiar sight, offering “doon the watter” trips along the west coast carrying 130,000 passengers a year.
For more than seven decades it has transported millions of passengers to a variety of locations throughout the UK.
The steamer undertook its maiden voyage in 1947 and is registered as part of the National Historic Fleet as being a vessel of pre-eminent national significance. However it urgently requires new boilers, forcing all excursions in 2019 to be cancelled.
Catalyst for donations
The fundraising cash will go towards major restoration such as replacing the twin boilers, as well as other necessary maintenance and upkeep like replacing the main electrical switch board and installing new generators.
General Manager of Waverley Excursions, Paul Semple says: “This announcement changes the whole feel of our appeal, but there remains a gap of £400,000 that we have to meet in order to return Waverley to service for 2020.
“I hope people will see the Scottish government support as a catalyst for further donations and corporate support.”
He continues: “We need to remove iconic funnels, lift the deck, take out the boilers and generators and replace it all. It’s a big job. I have likened it to open heart surgery. It is like a heart transplant for the Waverley, to return her back to service.”
Source: BBC News