Sunday, 13 October 2013

Soggy Sunday on a Super Steamer

It was terribly wet this morning, but that didn’t matter one bit.  We had the fortune to travel on board the “PS Waverley” from Tower Pier to Gravesend.  This wonderful vessel is the only surviving sea going paddle steamer left, and leaves tonight for Scotland after a week in London.


James first travelled on the Waverley in 1972 in Scotland and, if allowed, would write a million words about this trip (most of them technical!) but he’ll try to keep it brief.  This is our first sight of this priceless part of British history at Tower Pier.


This is the engine room, which can be viewed from either side.  The massive connecting rods reciprocate silently and effortlessly, turning the huge crankshaft which directly drives the paddles on either side of the ship.


We needed a tug to turn us round in the Pool of London ……….


……… before we headed for Tower Bridge.


With the initial excitement of getting under way over, we had a hearty breakfast to keep out the cold and wet weather.


The speed at which we travelled down the Thames was amazing.  We flew past such iconic landmarks such as the O2 Arena.


The internal condition of this ship, built in 1947, is wonderful thanks to two extensive refurbishments in 2000 and 2003.


James trying to funnel his enthusiasm!


An action shot of one of the paddles (taken through a port hole)


Approaching the Queen Elizabeth II bridge.


On our approach to Gravesend we were able to witness the “engine driver” controlling the speed and direction of the paddles as he received commands from the bridge……….


…….. and once disembarked at Gravesend, we could take this shot of the whole ship in all her glory.  Despite the appalling weather this experience was terrific.  We waved goodbye to her as she continued on to Southend, while we caught the HS1 train back to Kings Cross.


As we were at Kings Cross we popped in to the St Pancras Cruising Club where we were given a very warm welcome by the members in the clubhouse.  The clubhouse, at present, is in the wonderful old water tower which was once used to provide water for the steam railway engines and which has been moved (!) from its original position to where it now stands.  After a drink in the bar, one of the members, Tony, very kindly showed us the view from the top as we stood in the old water tank and we had the most fascinating and informative conversation about the history of the Kings Cross area.


As we looked down on the club basin a Eurostar train, which is 1/4 mile long, left St Pancras station.


This is the original ballcock and valve used to fill the tank with water.  The float is bigger than a football.


Our last view of the lovely old water tower as we left the cruising club.

We’ve had a fantastic day to say the least.  To have the experience of the trip on the PS Waverley was truly fantastic and then to be invited to take in views of Kings Cross and St Pancras from the top of a Victorian water tower – what next we wonder!


  1. What a great day out:) but I bet Sarah on nb Chertsey will be well upset as she missed out :(

  2. Two fantastic opportunities in one day - lucky you! The good ship Waverley looks wonderful and cruising under the open tower bridge must have been soooo exciting! I’m quite jealous!

  3. Aha.. we also did the wonderful Waverley experience - about this time last year - brilliant. See Bells and Whistles..