The cancellation of Waverley’s 2019 season received widespread media coverage across Scotland in the traditional media as well as being widely shared and discussed nationally online and via social media.
Online and print media coverage included:
- Waverley paddle steamer ‘will not sail in 2019’ – BBC News
- Waverley sailings cancelled amid fears for the paddle steamer’s future – Daily Record
- Bosses withdraw Waverley paddle steamer boat from service for 2019 – Evening Times
- DOOMED THE WATTER Waverley Paddle Steamer axed after 45 years of service as repair bill hits more than £2million – The Scottish Sun
Paul Semple, Waverley Excursions General Manager, also appeared on the BBC Scotland and STV prime-time evening news to highlight Waverley’s plight.
Paul was interviewed by Andrew Black on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Newsdrive’ programme. The interview is available to listen to online up until 9th June via the BBC Sounds website here.
Paul’s interview starts 50 minutes and 14 seconds in to the programme and lasts for approximately five minutes. A transcript of this interview appears below.
Transcript of Andrew Black interviewing Paul Semple on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Newsdrive’. This interview was first broadcast on 10th May 2019 at approximately 16:50.
Andrew: Now, it is a famous and much-loved vessel but today the operators of the Waverley paddle steamer have announced it’s being withdrawn from service because it needs new boilers. Paul Semple is Waverley Excursions General Manager and is here with me now in the studio. Good afternoon to you Paul.
Paul: Good Afternoon.
Andrew: Is it a bit of a blow then?
Paul: Yes, much disappointment with this announcement because we have been working on the boilers since February, expected some work on them, but over time the work has become more complex and costly to the point now that we’ve had to end up accepting that these boilers are beyond repair and Waverley will need new boilers to sail again.
Andrew: And did this come as a surprise or was it on the cards?
Paul: Not on the cards but just in the last few days we’ve had to accept that after further investigative works that the original estimate value in repairing these boilers.
Andrew: And what did you find was the problem with them?
Paul: It is just structural with the boilers, there were certain sections we’d have to start taking out but you get to the point where in order to do that you have to almost rip the ship in parts to take them out. You’d have to take her funnels off in order to access the boilers totally, so it is major work but as a charity we don’t have the reserves for that sort of work.
Andrew: And the Waverley was built in 1946, it must have had to undergo a lot of refurbishment and repair over the years?
Paul: Yes, she is a very expensive lady but her last major refurbishment was 2000 and 2003. It was in 2000 that these boilers went in but now we are faced with the consequences of having to replace them.
Andrew: What kind of refurbishment has the ship had to go through in previous years?
Paul: The ship has had major hull replacement work. Her paddle wheels have just been refurbished. In fact just two weeks ago she left dry dock. So the hull we know is in excellent condition. The paddles have been refurbished. The steering gear have had major component replacement but now we just face the prospect that without new boilers she will not steam again.
Andrew: And what happens now then? Do you need a bit of a cash injection to try and get her fixed?
Paul: It’s that simple. Technically it is possible but it will come down to cash and the fact that we’ve only just realised this in the last few days, with initial estimates, that this will be a significant figure that we will need to now raise.
Andrew: Do you think you know how much you need to raise?
Paul: I think it will be in the region of £2 million.
Andrew: Gosh! And have you had to raise money like this in the past for the ship?
Paul: We have but we’ve had more time to do it. I think of the time constraints because for Waverley to lose any of the operating season has significant financial impact on the viability of the company.
Andrew: And it is still a boat that is really loved by a lot of people. What kind of people donate money to you when you need money and who do you think might come to your rescue this time?
Paul: Well we do have a very loyal band of supporters because not only does Waverley sail in Scotland, Waverley also sails around various areas of the UK, so you are talking about tens of thousands of passengers a year. So I would hope that our regular passengers, of which we have a really strong customer base, will give this time.
Andrew: And do you have any timescale that you think you need to raise the money by?
Paul: We will need to find that have the money in the next few months to start placing [orders] because the boilers will take six months to construct and then several months in order to install them.
Andrew: So you think there will be not much chance of the Waverley sailing this year?
Paul: This year she will not sail. We’re now looking at 2020 but even then that is still a tough challenge in order to raise the funds and do the work in the timescale.
Andrew: And do you think, even though you are going to have a break, that 2020 that people will still be queuing up to get on it?
Paul: Yes. I think the affection which people hold towards the ship because of her fame as the last sea going paddle steamer in the world, I think they will be queuing up and if we can return the ship to steam she has a really good future, if we can replace these boilers.
Andrew: And why do you think people can continue to love the Waverley so much?
Paul: I think it depends on the generation. There’s a nostalgic link but I also think that even people in their 30s and 40s now actually think for Waverley from their own childhood and it’s just that natural link in nostalgia. But also the sight of the ship coming in to a pier captures the imagination.
Andrew: Okay, thank you very much Paul. All the best with your fund raising. That’s Paul Semple there, the Waverley Excursions General Manager.