Clyde's restored pride paddles south for a winter by the English seaside

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The Independent Online

After a £4m refit, the world's only remaining ocean-going paddle steamer is heading south. The Waverley, affectionately known as the "Pride of the Clyde", will this week make her way south from Glasgow to cruise round the south coast of England during the winter season.

After a £4m refit, the world's only remaining ocean-going paddle steamer is heading south. The Waverley, affectionately known as the "Pride of the Clyde", will this week make her way south from Glasgow to cruise round the south coast of England during the winter season.

The steamer, which was built in 1947 to replace the original Waverley, which sank on her way back from the Dunkirk landings seven years before, has been in dry dock at Great Yarmouth for the last nine months undergoing extensive refurbishment.

The white plastic chairs from the observation deck have been replaced with wooden seats, the main engine and paddle shafts have been realigned and solid timber mouldings have been used to recreate the original look.

On 16 August the Waverley returned to the Clyde and for the last 10 days she has been taking passengers on excursions around the Clyde and nearby islands. She will nowsteam her way south to carry out trips round the coast off Bournemouth, (where she will be this Friday) Minehead, Portsmouth, Southend and Ipswich. In October she will stop at the Millennium Dome pier, for a day of cruising up and down the Thames.

Dave Robins, who has written about the Waverley's history, said: "She was built to replace a ship of the same name which was lost to due enemy action in May 1940, while returning with troops from the Dunkirk beaches. The new Waverley was launched on the Clyde at Glasgow on 2 October 1947. She was commissioned by the London and North East Railway company but changed owners several times over the next 30 years."

By 1972, the Waverley was the last paddle steamer that remained of the once great Clyde fleet and was used mainly for excursions, although occasionally she was called into use as a ferry and would carry sheep from the Isle of Arran to the mainland, Mr Robins said.

As the increase in private car ownership and the number of people taking holidays abroad rose, it became increasingly hard for the Waverley to justify her excursions up and down the Firth of Clyde and in 1973 she was retired.

The following year she was sold to her current owners, the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS) for £1 and many thought she would become a museum exhibit. But the society carried out some repairs, repainted her in the original red and black livery and in 1975 she was back at work.

On her 50th anniversary, the Heritage Lottery Fund granted a £2.7m grant to allow a complete refit and the work began at the close of the 1999 season. Despite the river Clyde's great ship building history, the work was carried out in Great Yarmouth, where the Waverley spent most of the year in dry dock, sailing back to Glasgow earlier this month, the refit complete.

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