1966 was the year that a new livery was adopted for the British Railways fleet with greenish-blue hulls and funnels in orangey-red with a black top adorned with the new railway double arrow logo in white. On the Clyde there was resistance to this and the new order there was not so drastic with buff funnels retained now adorned by red lions rampant instead.
Waverley started her 1966 season under the command of Capt Hector Connell with her first cruise from Helensburgh since 1951, a charter to the Clyde River Steamer Club, sailing to Tarbert and Ardrishaig.
In the peak weeks she shared the excursion programme from Craigendoran with the Caledonia alternating the daily round Bute cruise with sailings to Arrochar on Tuesdays and Thursdays, round the lochs on Wednesdays and up river to Glasgow on Fridays. For 1966 her Class III sea-going passenger certificate was reduced to 571 so it was usually the Caledonia which ran the Monday excursions beyond the Partially Smooth Water limits to sea to Brodick and Pladda. On Saturdays both paddlers generally ran on the Craigendoran – Rothesay ferry service where their considerable capacity of over 1,000 on Class IV passenger certificates made them very useful as people movers on busy peak season days.
Waverley broke down at Dunoon on June 19th and was out of service until the 24th. As ever with paddle steamer operations, some other sailings during the season were delayed for operational reasons or curtailed due to weather. Her main programme ended on 10th October but she continued to fill in on the Craigendoran – Rothesay ferry until retiring to the Albert Harbour at Greenock on 28th October for winter lay-up.
A young purser on Waverley that summer wrote in Paddle Wheels at the time under the initials FRJB “Having the ticket office next to the gangway is a distinct advantage because even with a big crowd aboard you don’t have to struggle through screaming ‘scuse me’ to get to your post. Although she has quite a good mess room, most of the officers go home in the evening so it isn’t quite so cheerful at night. The LNER were never noted for providing their officers with luxurious accommodation which is probably why most of them go home except the poor old duty engineer.”
“One of the more pleasant evenings spent aboard was watching the engineers changing a float while Waverley was berthed at Craigendoran Pier. It was very interesting to watch the operation of unbolting the old one and floating it away and floating the new one in under the box, raising it with a minimum of lifting tackle and bolting it into place. Taking into consideration the somewhat restricted confines of the paddle box I was mildly surprised that it wasn’t an all night session.”
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.