It looks like another national maritime treasure could be lost forever.
The world’s last sea-going paddle steamer, Waverley, is in desperate need of funds to survive.
As an island nation, rich in maritime heritage, it’s so sad that we fail to protect our achievements for future generations to marvel at.
Imagine sailing on Waverley from Portsmouth for a day cruise around the Isle of Wight. Taking in the stunning views from the open deck, you’d go below for dinner, only to be greeted by an amazing, rare sight. A big, powerful steam engine in full cry, open for all to see the perfectly-polished parts working in harmony to power the ship through the water at 14 knots.
Built in Dumbarton in 1947, Waverley visits Portsmouth every September for cruises all along the south coast, but money is running out.
Sadly her near sister, the PS Ryde – which took part in the Dunkirk evacuations and played her part in the Second World War as a minesweeper – continues to rust away on the mud flats of the River Medina, near Newport.
The world famous QE2 remains mothballed in Dubai with an uncertain future. What an incredible five-star hotel and conference centre she would make for Southampton.
And don’t get me started on the two giant car ferry hovercrafts at Lee-on-the-Solent.
These awesome beasts have been dormant for 10 years now. They should still be flying, demonstrating this country’s innovations in sea travel.
Like Concorde, they represent a golden age of advancement in travelling at speed.
I’m feeling an advert coming on: ‘For just £3 a week, you can save these wonderful ships, so please, dig deep and help.’
Seriously though, just sail on the Waverley in September to show your support.
Another solution is to get the National Lottery to set up a Moving Heritage charity, which would fund the restoration and continued running of our engineering greats.
It could use money from the unclaimed prize pot. With more than £150m unclaimed, I think there’s enough to go round.