Appeal to keep paddle steamer sailing

  • 6 February, 2023
  • On the pier


Hopes of the world’s last seagoing passenger-carrying paddle steamer
returning to Clacton and Harwich this year are hanging in the balance.

Waverley made a triumphant return to the Tendring coast as part of its
Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2022 following a four year absence.

But a huge hike in operating costs last season means that the trust that
runs the ship is under increased financial pressure if it is to keep her sailing.

Fuel charges alone rose by 60 percent – some £300,000 in real terms – at
a time when the bill for maintaining Waverley already topped £600,000 a year.

The trust has launched an appeal to raise £180,000 for dry dock costs
and so far, they are more than halfway there.

Tim Wardley, Chairman of the National Piers Society who has a 30-year
association with Waverley said the success of the appeal is crucial.

“The money is needed to get certain works carried out so that she will
be back in the water for 2023 and play her vital contribution to the Year of
the Pier celebrations which will be launched in style at Clacton on March 4,”
he said.

“Last year was successful in many ways – especially the Thames programme
which included calls at Clacton and Harwich, and which attracted more
passengers than expected.

“However, we were hit by significant rises in operating costs that have
taken away from the funds we now have available for maintenance and repairs.”

In 2022, Waverley was scheduled for seven calls at Clacton Pier as part
of trips cruising the River Orwell, the River Thames through Tower Bridge,
River Blackwater and River Stour. It also stopped at Harwich.

Billy Ball, a director of Clacton Pier, said that he hopes that the ship
will return in the autumn.

“We carried out repairs at the berthing arm last year at our own cost
because we desperately wanted the Waverley back and docking at our attraction,”
he added.

“It is a magnificent sight as she steams in, and paddle steamers are
very much a part of our history. Let’s hope the appeal is successful.”

Anyone wanting to make a donation can do so online at


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