THE PADDLE Steamer Waverley could spend the 2023 season languishing in dry dock unless people respond to an urgent appeal for funds.

The 76-year-old ship, the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world, is a popular sight in the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel.

But if she is to sail this year, money needs to be raised to pay for dry dock and commissioning fees.

In 2022 Waverley operated in several areas around the UK coast following the easing of pandemic restrictions, but operating costs soared which has resulted in a lack of funds to survive the winter maintenance period but despite carrying more than 100,000 passengers,there is a cash shortfall. 

Paul Semple, Waverley’s general manager, said: “Waverley must be taken out of the water and dry docked annually before her sailing season begins. 

“She is now booked to dry dock in late-March and then re-enter service in May. 

“Due to increased operating costs last season we don’t have enough money to afford this year’s dry dock and the numerous other costs we incur in the weeks before Waverley starts sailing.

“Last year our fuel costs increased by over 60 per cent or in real terms by over £300,000. 

“This is a cost which the owning charity hasn’t been able to withstand. 

“We urgently need to raise funds or we simply can’t afford the start up costs for this coming summer season.”

The Dry Dock 2023 Appeal has a target of £180,000 with more than £35,000 already raised. 

“Those who donate by March 1 will be entered into a draw to be selected for the unique opportunity to visit Waverley and see her out of the water in dry dock.

Mr Semple said:  “Operating a historic steamship like Waverley is inherently expensive. 

‘‘We are now spending over £600,000 a year just to maintain her in operating condition. 

“Spare parts for a paddle steamer are rarely ‘off the shelf’ and come at considerable cost. 

‘‘Dry docking the ship is the single largest expense of the winter maintenance work and as things are we can’t afford to dock her. 

“We are asking for help from anyone who wishes to see Waverley sail again this summer to support our appeal.”

Waverley’s outline sailing programme for 2023 has been published with the ship scheduled to start operating in May on the Firth of Clyde. Waverley is also due to visit the Bristol Channel, Oban and the Inner Hebrides, South Coast and London. 

Donations to the Dry Dock 2023 Appeal can be made online at or by calling 0141 243 2224. 

Those donating online can opt to be included on a virtual donor wall.