Wightlink will welcome back the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer when the PS Waverley visits the historic Ryde Pier in September.
The Waverley will make 3 calls at the Pier next month to embark and disembark passengers for excursions to the Solent forts, The Needles and around the Isle of Wight.
The Clyde steamer was launched in 1946 to serve the communities of Lochgoilhead and Arrochar in the Scottish Highlands. In 1974, after a lifetime of service, she was sold by Caledonian MacBrayne to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society for £1 and began a 2nd career as a much-loved tourist attraction.
Since then, she has carried more than 6million passengers from over 60 ports around the UK. Waverley first visited the South Coast in 1978 and last called at Ryde almost 10 years ago.
Keith Greenfield, CEO of Wightlink, has said:
“We always enjoy seeing Waverley out and about on the Solent and she has frequently called at our FastCat terminal in Portsmouth Harbour. It will be wonderful to see her once more at Ryde Pier on the year we completed work on our pedestrian walkway from the Pier Head to the Esplanade.”
Steam-powered paddle steamers were once a familiar sight at Ryde Pier. Southern Railway’s fleet carried many thousands of holidaymakers as foot passengers to and from the Isle of Wight in the days before mass car ownership.
During the Second World War, several were requisitioned by the Government and converted into minesweepers. They went on to play significant roles during the evacuation of Allied soldiers from Dunkirk in 1940 and at the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944.
Will Myles, Managing Director of Visit Isle of Wight, adds:
“To see the iconic and much-loved PS Waverley, the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world stop once again at England’s oldest surviving pier will be an incredible sight – and to head down the pier on the new pedestrian walkway to explore the beautiful Victorian town of Ryde will be a fantastic experience!”
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