Outside the Science Centre on Plantation Quay, you can often see and sail on the Waverley, last of the sea-going paddle-steamers. She cruises with her sister ship Balmoral all round Britain during the summer but with Glasgow as her home port.
The first Waverley, launched in 1899, sank off Dunkirk in May 1940. She was carrying some 600 troops evacuated from the beaches. Many of them and most of the ship’s company died after the ship came under air attack and a bomb went right through the hull.
The present Waverley was built at the Pointhouse yard of A & J Inglis, at the mouth of the River Kelvin and close to the site of the Riverside Museum. She is powered by a steam, triple-expansion, three-crank diagonal engine whose powerful action impresses all who sail on her, enthusiast and first-timers alike. Surprisingly quiet, she sails at about 14.5 knots. She was originally part of London and North Eastern Railway’s fleet, sailing a regular route between Arrochar and Craigendoran in the Firth of Clyde. Escalating running costs meant she was retired from commercial operation in 1974 and was rescued from the scrapyard, being bought for just £1 by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. Specialists and dedicated volunteers have restored her to her original condition, with the help of £7m grants from sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund, and she now operates each summer from Glasgow and around the British coast.
She is the last in the long line of paddle steamers from the Comet in 1812 who have plied the waters of the Clyde.