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New and unexpected for 2014 - Waverley called at Keppel Pier (Great Cumbrae) instead of Millport Old Pier
Waverley calls at Ardrossan on her 40th Anniversary in preservation celebratory cruise on August 8th
The cermonial opening of Llandudno pier, not possible as planned in 2013, could not be achieved again as Waverley only managed a sail past
Unexpected news from North Ayrshire Council and the Millport authorities was that the traditional pier situated in the sheltered bay on the south side of Great Cumbrae at Millport would not be abvailble for Waverley to call due to safety reasons. This news came through after the season commenced and would have had major consequences for the steamer's schedule has the offer not come from the Marine Research Establishment on Great Cumbrae of their pier at Keppel. A traditional steamer calling point until closure in 1971, a new pier was built in 1984 for the purposes of scientific research vessels. After trials it was found suitable for Waverley to call (for the first time since 1971) and Keppel pier has now been inserted into the ship's timetable instead of Millport. Located close by, the town itself can be reached by the frequent bus service which links Millport with the Largs car ferry at Cumbrae Slip. Whether Millport pier will be reopened for use by Waverley is unclear. It is expected to require a significant sum of money and there is a view that it should be redeveloped to specialise as a yachting marina berth.
The three photos below, shown by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte, show Waverley on her first public call of 2014 on 26th June on the occasion of a charter by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.
Forty years on from the day when Waverley was bought for a nominal £1 on behalf of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, the society's Scottish Branch chartered the ship jointly with the Clyde River Steamer Club for a celebratory cruise on August 8th. Leaving Greenock at around 10:30, she called at Largs, Ardrossan and Lochranza before making an unusual circling of Inchmarnock island. Various commemorative events took place, including a recreation of the well-known photo of the pound note being handed over to John Whittle, then of Caledonian-MacBrayne. Both PSPS members Terry Sylvester and Douglas McGowan were back with a Scottish pound note to hand to John Whittle in front of the cameras aboard ship. Waverley is seen below entering Ardrossan harbour in a photo shown by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte. Ardrossan was not a regular port of call for Waverley but was, and remains to this day, the mainland terminal for car ferry services to Brodick on the Isle of Arran, although not a call in Waverley's regular cruise programme.
Liverpool was the first port Waverley called at when she made her first tentative steps of sailing beyond the Clyde in 1977 and started what has since become an annual visit to parts of the southern UK coasts. Waverley was highly popular at Liverpool in 1977 and a return visit was planned for 2013 to coincide with the reopening of Llandudno pier for traffic after six years following major restoration work. Unfortunately the works were not completed in time for Waverley to be the ceremonial first visitor, so the arrangements were postponed until 2014. Poor weather and sea conditions meant that Waverley was marooned in Glasgow and unable to sail south on August 25th and therefore had to cancel her fully booked cruise from Liverpool to Llandudno for that purpose the following day. Safely at Liverpool by the morning of the 27th, the ship took a full load of passengers to Llandudno for a postponed ceremony only to be able to achieve a brief sail past as the captain decided that conditions made it unsafe to berth and exchange passengers, leaving several hundred people booked on a cruise to view the Anglesey coast disappointed - and those from Liverpool wanting time ashore at the Conwy resort equally out of luck. Following the coastal cruise, Waverley made directly for Liverpool without attempting to return to Llandudno. With conditions worsening, the ship, having droppped its passengers at Liverpool sailed out to anchor in relatively protected waters off Colwyn Bay, but reamined at anchor and had to cancel the first two scheduled cruises of its subsequent short programme in the Bristol Channel. The photos below, by Kenny Whyte, show Waverley arriving at Liverpool early morning of the 27th with the port city skyline, including the iconic Liver Building in the background, the ship tied up at Liverpool in advance of the cruise and two views of the sail past of a crowded Llandudno pier