Waverley returns to Keppel

Waverley returned to Keppel on Monday 23 June 2014 for the first time in more than 40 years.
The paddler made two trial calls at the Cumbrae pier, first from the north and then from the south, during a positioning run from Glasgow to Largs, prior to her first Ayr sailing of the season on Tuesday 24 June. The berthing trials, undertaken in sunny conditions, with a light westerly wind and at low tide, went ahead smoothly. Captain Andy O’Brian was on the bridge.
Waverley will call at Keppel on Wednesdays and Thursdays until August 21. The transfer of her Millport call from the Old Pier to Keppel was arranged at short notice after North Ayrshire Council announced that Millport’s Old Pier was unsafe and was being closed to ships of more than 100 tons.
The concrete pier at Keppel is owned by the Field Studies Council, which took over the Marine Station facility at Keppel last year after the University of London withdrew its funding.
 Waverley at Keppel 17th August 1966  Waverley at Keppel 15th July 1970    Waverley at Keppel August 1971
The pier was built in 1985. It replaced a conventional wooden structure, built in 1888 on an adjacent site and used by steamers on long-distance excursions until the end of the 1971 season. The last steamer to call was Queen Mary II, on a CRSC charter in May 1973 and Keppel made the last call by a passenger ship on 7th May 1981, again on charter to the CRSC.
Cumbrae residents were dismayed by North Ayshire Council’s abrupt closure of the Old Pier, and are suspicious of the sums quoted for its repair: the structure was renovated only 22 years ago. Waverley’s calls in summer landed visitors in the heart of the town, and the pipe band’s display during Waverley’s call on Thursday evenings was a highlight of the week.

Memories of Keppel

 Duchess of Hamilton circa 1910 
Duchess of Rothesay circa 1930 
The wooden steamer pier at Keppel,
dismantled in 1985  
Duchess of Hamilton on 16 July 1970
Keppel at Keppel circa 1969   Maid of Argyll on 5 August 1970  Cowal in August 1971  Queen Mary II on  5th May 1973

23rd June 2014