Minutes of the 2016 National AGM

Minutes of the 29th Annual General Meeting of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society held at 14:00 on 19th November 2016 on board PS Maid of the Loch at Balloch.

Present: Iain Dewar (Chairman) and 71 other members of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.

1. Welcome

Iain Dewar welcomed members to the meeting. Recalling the state to which Maid of the Loch had once deteriorated, he commended John Beveridge and his team for the work that had been done to renovate the vessel.

2. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from John Anderson, Richard Clammer, Jonathan Cohen, Nick James, Pat Phillips, Noel Kemp, Bill Prynne, Terry Sylvester and Chris & Paula Warren

3. Minutes of the 28th Annual General Meeting

The Minutes were approved and signed by the Chairman as a true record.

4. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising not covered by the agenda.

5. Reports of the Council of Management and Reporting Accountants and the Society’s financial statements for the year ended 31st December 2015

Martin Longhurst introduced the report and explained the two charts which show the breakdown of the Society’s income and expenditure.

income2015

expd2015

A full copy of the Annual Report and Financial Statements may be found here.

Chris Philips proposed and Jeremy Gold seconded that the Report and Accounts be received and this was agreed nem con.

6. PS Kingswear Castle Report

John Megoran presented his report in his role as Chairman of the PS Kingswear Castle Trust. The engine from PS Compton Castle had been rescued from Blackgang Chine and was now at Kingswear. Various other components are stored at Chatham.

A crack had developed on the low pressure cylinder of Kingswear Castle, which had been removed to Tyseley Locomotive Works, Birmingham for testing. It is likely that the cylinder will be recast, rather than repaired as had been done previously. Work on the ship’s pumps is among the jobs to be carried out this winter.

John Megoran emphasised the positive contribution by the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company in operating and maintaining Kingswear Castle. The vessel has a very good future on the Dart and the Society needs to maintain its good relationship with the Dart company.

7. PS Waverley Report

David Kells, Chairman, Waverley Excursions Limited, presented his report.

2016 had been another challenging year, but the new master, Ross Cochrane, had received many plaudits for his seamanship and his interaction with customers. Andy O’Brian had worked with Ross, passing on valuable knowledge, as well as using his pilotage exemptions to save the company money on the south coast.

Three members of the engineering staff left at short notice early in the season, requiring considerable effort by Kathleen O’Neill and George Taylor to keep the ship sailing. A rota of individuals was put together to cover the season, with special thanks to Alex Sneddon, James Jardine, Iain McCorkindale and Gordon Reid who stepped in for various periods, as well as George Taylor who himself acted as Chief or Second on a number of occasions.

It has always been the aim to have a Chief Purser to manage catering, retail and purser operations, so the company strategy is put in place on the ship. Somebody was appointed for this role, but found the job to be too much for them. The company still believes this is the right option.

Problems with the boiler and other parts of the engine room resulted in delays and cancellations. Some were new, but others were repeats of previous problems. A new approach will be taken going forward, but an aging ship will always be susceptible to mechanical problems.

Funding remains an issue, with competing demands from other projects and local authority grants have now all but stopped.

Waverley sailed for 107 days in 2016, against 102 in the previous two years. Overall sales are up by 7% on 2015, with ticketing up 6%, catering up 8% and retail up 13.8%. Passenger numbers for the year were almost the same as 2015, at 111,000. But for cancelled days due to mechanical problems, the sales increase would have been around 16%.

The figures quoted may vary marginally when they are finalised, but the message is positive and there is a lot to be optimistic about. There are still improvements that can be made, but people sometimes forget the progress that has been achieved.

Cancellations or amended journeys are a reality, due to weather or mechanical problems. The new ticketing system has been a great help for online and telephone bookers. The company now has more information to allow contact with passengers if there is a change. A new system for dealing with credit card bookings is much more efficient.

Refunds take a lot of time. Some people appreciate the reasons; for others it ruins their year. The company tends to respond to emails by letter, so there is a more personal approach.

Communication is important and there have been a couple of occasions this year when not enough information has been given out. The company will resolve this.

There has been criticism of the way sailings are cancelled or amended. The company tries to find alternatives if a sailing cannot happen as planned. There was a bad weekend on the Bristol Channel, where there was a sailing on Saturday when conditions were not ideal, but Sunday was cancelled. The company received more complaints about the Saturday sailing conditions than about the Sunday cancellation.

Planning for winter maintenance is under way and, for the second year running, there are sufficient funds in the bank. Work will start in January, with external resources to look at the boiler and areas with recurring problems. Work is split into three areas, engineering, retail and deck, with one person in charge of each and responsible for ensuring the ship is ready to go to dry dock under its own steam. Dry dock is booked for 28th April and the initial Clyde sailings will be 26th to 29th May, with the Western Isles from 30th May to 5th June. It is hoped to sail more days in 2016 and to be able to call at Brodick from August.

The company is continuing to strengthen the staff, both in the office and on the ship, to make sure the future is as secure and stable as possible.

David Kells thanked all the staff and the many volunteers around the country. More work is needed on how volunteering is organised and managed. Initiatives to recruit volunteers more widely, not just from steamer enthusiasts, had been tried successfully.

He noted challenges ahead:

  • Working on catering to ensure the company delivers what is planned; there is a lot more potential income as well as increased customer satisfaction
  • Fuel prices have been lower in recent years, but there has been an upward trend recently
  • Waverley is an aging ship, so there will be breakdowns, but the company is planning for this. A spare mast, paddle shaft and rudder stock have been procured. Terms of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant for the millennium refit included a condition that no further applications would be made for twenty years. A team has been set up to put together a major work plan, so that a HLF application can be made in 2020.

David Kells concluded that it will always be a challenge keeping Waverley sailing, especially with competition for donations and grants, but the future is positive.
The Chairman noted that the financial turnround had been remarkable and thanked David Kells for this achievement.

8. PS Maid of the Loch Report

John Beveridge, Director of Loch Lomond Steamship Company, started his report with a brief resume of PSPS involvement with Maid of the Loch since 1986.

2016 had seen loss of the Chairman as a result of the untimely death of Phil Preston. He had provided great shipping and engineering skills. Events of the year had included signing a contract with ship designers OSD-IMT to take forward plans to return the Maid to service. No fewer than seven different consultants are working on the scheme, thanks for £230,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. No major problems have been raised so far. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, visited the vessel and met volunteers in March.

Volunteers have been working on the paddle shaft and engines. That included opening up to allow a successful Bureau Veritas inspection. The winch house was open every weekend during the summer and in steam. There had been a successful “doors open” day in September.

John Beveridge displayed the new general arrangement. Details included provision of radar, a disabled toilet and a lift. Discussions were under way with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency concerning the design and appearance of a man overboard boat that had to be provided on the vessel. These are normally bright orange! The intention is to put the ship back to its original layout, with a 1950s feel, but with modern safety features, WiFi and interactive displays. The company is keen to obtain photographs showing the original light fittings, so that these can be replicated, and members’ help with this is requested.  The Heritage Lottery Fund is willing to provide £3.8m for the project, subject to an additional £1.7m being raised. If all goes to plan, Maid of the Loch should be back in service in 2018.

9. Other Paddle Steamers

Chris Phillips reported that PS Monarch had completed a third successful season operating from Wareham. PS Ryde is in very poor condition and likely to be broken up within the next few months, but there is a possibility of the engine being preserved.

Iain Dewar reported that the owner of paddle tug John H Amos may be prepared to transfer the vessel to a suitable body, such as a preservation trust. That depended on people being willing to take this on and particularly for someone to be project manager. The PSPS Council was not aware of anyone to take on this role. It would be a pity if John H Amos was lost, because she is the last of her type. He asked anyone interested in becoming involved to contact him.

10. Archive

David Green described the work undertaken on the Society’s archives. There is an Archives Committee of three, but with one vacancy, the other member being Richard Clammer. There are twelve volunteers working on cataloguing the archives, which extend to over 34,000 items. The archives are partly funded by subscription income, but the Scottish Branch had additionally donated the cost of a high-quality scanner and a de-humidifier. The archives are stored in the former Kingswear Castle office, in the former customs house at Chatham, but with some material remaining in the tunnel under the ropery.

The collection policy has been revised and made more succinct, but is subject to PSPS Council approval. There is a need to be selective and not to accept inappropriate items. At present there are about 570 books in the archive. A reference library has been created, which will enable future donations to be filtered for duplications. An upgrade to the software used for cataloguing is under consideration.

David Green had attended a maritime archives meeting at the National Maritime Museum and had made useful contacts with other organisations. There is a desire to have a common approach to cataloguing.

The intention is to obtain accreditation as an archive and, eventually, as a museum. This should improve access to grant aid.

The Chairman thanked David and his team for all that had been achieved.

11. Elections to Council of Management

The meeting noted that Iain Dewar, Myra Allen, Martin Longhurst, Paul Semple and Jon Joliffe had been re-elected to the Council of Management unopposed.

12. Ordinary Resolutions

Ordinary Resolution 1 “That, to maintain an even balance of retirements each year as permitted by Article 35(1), the terms of office of the newly elected members of the Council of Management shall be set to expire at the conclusion of the Annual General Meetings in the following years: Iain Dewar 2017, Martin Longhurst 2019, Jon Jolliffe 2019, Myra Allen 2020 and Paul Semple 2020.” was passed nem con.

Ordinary Resolution 2 “That Peter Walker FCCA being appointed as Reporting Accountant to the Society for the ensuing year and the Council of Management be authorised to fix his remuneration.” was passed nem con.

In respect of Ordinary Resolution 3 there was some discussion as to the cost of Paddle Wheels, which took up 60% of subscription income. It was suggested that publication could be on line. The Chairman said that Council was reviewing the Society’s strengths and weaknesses and this was among the matters under consideration. It was also suggested that Life Membership be closed. The Treasurer said that he favoured this, but the Council had decided to continue with it.

Ordinary Resolution 3 that the following subscription rates be adopted with effect from 1 January 2017:

Ordinary £25
Ordinary couple £34
Senior Citizen £18
Senior Citizen couple £27
Life £850
Joint Life £1,100

was passed nem con.

13. Special Resolutions

Special Resolution 1 “That Article 11 be amended by adding a sub-clause:
(4) From 1 January 2017 the Council of Management may require all members or all members of certain classes of member with addresses outside the United Kingdom to pay a postage supplement. Any such supplement shall not exceed the difference between United Kingdom and International postage rates and may be varied from time to time by the Council of Management.” was passed by more than 75% of those present.

In respect of Special Resolution 2 members expressed concern that the proposal was applied sensitively. Life members should be valued as potential large donors. It was suggested that before any life member was written to as proposed there should be a check with branch secretaries and Council members as to whether this was necessary and appropriate. The Chairman explained that in absence of the measure proposed the Society could end up continuing to post Paddle Wheels to members who were supposedly 120 years old, but he assured the meeting that the measure would be used sensitively.

Special Resolution 2 “That Article 12 be amended by adding a sub-clause:
(5) a life member fails to respond to three notices sent to him or her asking for confirmation that the member wishes to remain a member.” was passed by more than 75% of those present.

Special Resolution 3 “That existing Article 13 be deleted and replaced by the following:
(1) An annual general meeting must be held in each year and not more than fifteen months may elapse between successive annual general meetings.
(2) No motions proposed by a member may be considered by an annual general meeting unless the member has given notice in writing or electronic form to the Secretary:
(a) setting out the wording of the motion;
(b) stating his or her name and address;
(c) stating the names and addresses of ten other members who support the terms of the motion; and
(d) before the date set for the close of nominations for election to the Council of Management in accordance with Article 36.
(3) The notice may comprise several documents containing the text of the motion in like form to each of which one or more members supporting the resolution have signified their agreement.” was passed by more than 75% of those present.

Special Resolution 4 “That existing Article 29(2) be deleted and replaced by the following:
No one may be appointed a member of the Council of Management unless he or she has made a declaration in the form specified by the Council of Management to confirm that he or she would not be disqualified from acting under the provisions of article 42.” was passed by more than 75% of those present.
Special Resolution 5 “That existing Article 42 be deleted and replaced by the following:
A member of the Council of Management shall cease to hold office if he or she:
(1) ceases to be a member of the Council of Management by virtue of any provision in the Companies Acts or is prohibited by law from being a director;
(2) is disqualified from acting as a trustee by virtue of sections 178 and 179 of the Charities Act 2011 or sections 69 and 70 of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (or any statutory re-enactment or modification of those provisions);
(3) becomes unable to make truthfully the Trustee Eligibility Declaration specified by the Commission;
(4) becomes unable to make truthfully a declaration for fit and proper persons specified by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs;
(5) ceases to be a member of the Society;
(6) becomes incapable by reason of mental disorder, illness or injury of managing and administering his or her own affairs;
(7) has their nomination withdrawn by their appointing body and/or it appoints another person to replace them;
(8) resigns as a member of the Council of Management by notice to the Society (but only if at least two members of the Council of Management will remain in office when the notice of resignation is to take effect); or
(9) is absent without the permission of the Council of Management from three consecutive meetings or all meetings held within a period of six consecutive months, whichever is the longer period, and the Council of Management resolves that his or her office be vacated.” was passed by more than 75% of those present.

14. Donation to the Archives

On behalf of PS Kingswear Castle Trust, John Megoran presented a donation of £200 towards upkeep of the archives, in recognition of the redecoration of the building at Chatham that was previously used by the Trust.

15. Open Forum

Douglas McGowan said that a huge thank you was due to David Kells and the Waverley staff for keeping the ship sailing, particularly following the loss of engineering staff. He noted that Waverley has become a very famous ship and not just in Scotland. The challenge was to convert that fame into “feet up the gangway”.

Malcolm Hale asked about progress with raising the £1.7m needed for Maid of the Loch and whether Sweeney Cruises had exclusive rights to provide sailings on Loch Lomond. John Beveridge replied that a professional fund raiser had been engaged. Sweeney Cruises did not have any exclusive rights, but there had been contact with them, which would continue. He thought that Maid of the Loch would be a different product that would complement the other cruise operations.

Jon Joliffe thought that there was a lack of atmosphere on board Waverley, due to the public address system being little-used. David Kells said that the PA system was to be improved. It is difficult to please everyone; some think commentaries are too intrusive, others that they should be more extensive. Some PA messages are important for safety and constant announcements can make people ignore them all. Cameron Marshall said that from his experience working as a Purser, creating a good on-board atmosphere could be difficult and always had been. These days modern requirements require the crew to give more time to operating the vessel, so have less time to engage with the passengers. Ian Quinn said that passengers deserve a warm welcome on board. The current Purser was excellent, and should make more live announcements. David Kells responded that recordings were used for consistency. Staff may be busy, but could play an announcement at the touch of a button. However, he noted the points that had been raised.

Ken Darroch said he thought the red volunteer uniform was a bit brash and asked whether volunteers working on Waverley during the winter could be issued with boiler suits. David Kells said that red is a Waverley colour and it was necessary for volunteers to stand out. He would look into staff clothing, but the company had to watch every penny.
Barbara Craig asked if the engineering staff problems had been resolved or were likely to recur. David Kells assured the meeting that the company now had a good selection of people able to act as Chief and Second Engineer.

Bob Watson said he was glad volunteers were getting proper recognition. He had been thanked for playing the accordion on board, for the first time. The more volunteers feel they are doing what Waverley needs, the happier they will be. David Kells said that better records of volunteers had enabled better contact with them, but information is still not complete and more needs to be done.

Chris Phillips thought that the roving microphone used to give commentaries did not work well. David Kells said it was new at the start of the season. It was a problem that Waverley’s PA system was not fully digital.

In absence of further questions, the Chairman thanked the panel for answering questions.

16. Retirements from the Council

The Chairman noted that three members were retiring from the Council, Richard Engert, who could not be present, Jeremy Gold and Douglas McGowan.

John Megoran said that Richard Engert had been of great assistance on insurance and risk assessment, providing valuable advice and help.

John Megoran said that Jeremy Gold had been a member for many years. He had served as London Branch Secretary and as a board member of the PS Kingswear Castle Trust. He had made a huge contribution to the Society and the ships. On behalf of the Society he presented Jeremy with a model of PS Kingswear Castle.

Iain Dewar said that the Society would not be where it was today without Douglas McGowan and his tremendous achievement in preserving Waverley. He had served in just about every capacity and would remain a Vice President of the Society. Douglas’s first love had been PS Caledonia, and on behalf of the Society Iain Dewar presented Douglas with a model of the vessel.

17. Any other business

The Chairman expressed his thanks to Martin Longhurst for his work in preparing the business of the meeting, and for his continuing work as treasurer and advisor on charity matters. He also thanked the Scottish Branch for making arrangements for the meeting.Following the conclusion of formal business the Grand Draw 2016 was made by Derek Brown who, with Ken Darroch, sells tickets on board Waverley. The Chairman said that Derek and Ken must be thanked for the tremendous fund-raising work that they do.

The meeting closed at 16:00 and was followed by a fascinating presentation by Iain Quinn on Loch Lomond’s paddlers.

These minutes are subject to confirmation by the 2017 National AGM.

New Reasons to Join

Waverley Excursions Ltd. has kindly offered concessions for Waverley sailings to PSPS members. Read more here.