Waverly Paddle Steamer

There can’t be any schoolchildren of my generation who don’t remember a school day trip ‘doon the watter’ on the Waverly paddle steamer.

We would board at Broomielaw with our school-provided packed lunch (white bread sandwiches, weak orange juice and a Penguin biscuit) and, depending on the weather, jostle for a place above or below deck.

We’d sail all the way down the Clyde estuary, past the grain warehouses and shipyards which lines the banks.

My favourite part of the trip was always a visit to the engine room where, through a large glass window, you could see the gleaming brass pistons pumping up and down, up and down, noisily turning the wheel. It was loud and smelly and as alien to me as the deck of the Enterprise.

Families used to take a day trip on the boat too and there was a tradition of ‘father going to see the engines’ which really meant he was off to the bar for a pint.

Today, the Waverly is the only ocean-going paddle steamer in the world. Although going by my experiences sailing down the Clyde, I wouldn’t trust it out of sight of the shore.

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