KC has undergone a few changes this winter. Babcocks are about to deliver a pair of new landing bridges, made to the old design and of aluminium construction. With these and a new, longer awning over half the ship will be under cover. Excitement was created during January when part of Thunderbolt Pier sunk. Soon after the pontoon had become unstable the steamer was towed up-river to the safety of JP Knight’s pontoon where she remained for five weeks whilst the Dockyard Trust went about removing the sunken pontoon.
Birth of the ‘new’ Balmoral – The Balmoral was virtually rebuilt in the opening months of this year with substantial work on the hull, superstructure and wheelhouse as well as an internal transformation. The motor ship was in dry dock at Govan on 8th March with the main deck extension aft to cover the former vehicle area virtually complete and only the green boot topping and indication of the colour scheme to come. Balmoral’s engines passed survey at a fairly early stage. However, it was at 6pm on Easter Monday (31st March) before the motorship set off down river. Trials were carried out in the Upper Firth and Balmoral arrived back at Govan between 1 and 2am next morning. 13th April was the day of the first trial sailing from Bristol to Ilfracombe.
Waverley diary – Waverley was in steam and moved to drydock at Govan on 27th March. There is a possibility that new headquarters for Waverley and Balmoral will be built slightly up river, almost exactly where it all began in 1975. Because of the proposal to build a temporary footbridge to the site of the 1988 Garden Festival on the south bank, the ships will not be able to call at Stobcross Quay.
Will Maid of the Loch’s engine turn again? – Built by A & J Inglis at Pointhouse in 1953 Maid of the Loch was dismantled and re-erected on the lakeside close to Balloch Pier where she now lies awaiting her fate. Although plans for limited operation have been announced, it seems the steam engine and boiler will be replaced with some sort of diesel engine application.
40 years to the day at Bristol – Steamer buffs celebrated the opening of the new season in fine style on 4th April at Charles Hill’s old Albion Slipway, in the City Docks. The occasion was the launch of a paddle steamer, and as we all know it’s a vanishing breed there had to be something special about this one. Exactly 40 years on an immaculate five-foot replica of the majestic Bristol Queen slid into the water, launched, just like her predecessor by the Lady Mayoress. The model which took years of research and painstaking labour, is the handiwork of Society member Robert Coles.
Paddle steamers of North America – perhaps the most surprising feature about American paddlers in the 1980s is that there are so many of them. Trillium (1910) is the only operational restored steam side-wheeler. Operating from Toronto until 1956 she was laid up and neglected until 1973. Restoration took until 1976 and she has been in service since then mainly for charter work.