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Why I’m Proud to Help the Waverley to Keep Sailing - 14 October 2011

At the bottom of the street in Partick, Glasgow where I was born and bred was the boundary wall of A. & J. Inglis’s shipyard, where the paddle steamer Waverley was built in 1946; ( before I was born, I hasten to add!)

The Waverley and her sister vessels in the Caledonian Steam Packet Company fleet, later Caledonian/ MacBrayne, were familiar sights on the Clyde to our family, as my granny lived in Rothesay and my early childhood holidays were spent there. I have returned to Bute many times over the years.

Nowadays, I live not far from my childhood home in Partick, in a flat overlooking the Clyde, and I often see the Waverley coming and going.

She was retired by CalMac in 1973 and sold for £1 to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. The Society in turn found agents, like the Waverley Steam Navigation Company and Waverley Excursions who, ever since, have helped to keep the Waverley sailing, not just on the Clyde, but also around the Western Isles, Irish Sea, the Bristol Channel, the Solent, the Thames and the North Sea, serving a remarkable 70 ports around the UK at different times of the year.

What Waverley does is a magnificent feat for what is now the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world; and she does it with no public subsidy to speak of.

But Waverley is not immune to the effects of the rising fuel costs that have affected us all; the maritime environment in which she operates is complex, multi-faceted and heavily regulated; and even the remarkable people who run her can’t control the weather.

So Waverley has some current financial challenges. As I write, people from all walks of life are rallying round Waverley in her time of need. She also needs medium and long term strategies to help ensure that she continues to do what she was built for, into the future.

I have been given the honour of chairing a new Waverley development body to help secure that future. I will be joined in that venture by Waverley experts, and by very distinguished figures from the business world, like Sir William MacAlpine and Jim Pettigrew.

I’m proud to be involved with this symbol of all that’s best about Clyde-built.

I’m going to help the PS Waverley because I love her and I want her to keep sailing.

What about you?

Charlie Gordon - 14 October 2011


Fastlink’s missed opportunity – 5th October 2011

Good news that the Scottish Government is to fund the £40 million construction cost of the first phase of “Clyde FastLink” – a fast, modern bus service, with its own dedicated right-of-way on part of its route.
But what a strange choice of route for Phase 1 – from Glasgow City Centre to the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre, then back over the “Squinty Bridge” to the Southern General Hospital.
Fastlink was originally my idea, back when I was Leader of Glasgow City Council. My preferred Phase 1 route – Glasgow City Centre to Glasgow Harbour, obtained Planning Permission in 2007, by which time I had left the Council for the Scottish Parliament.
Serving Glasgow Harbour with Fastlink still makes sense, especially now that the new Riverside Museum is open there. It seems daft not to proceed the one mile westwards of the SECC to Glasgow Harbour.
Taking Fastlink to the Southern General Hospital wasn’t an issue back in my Fastlink days, but it could be done by proceeding west of Glasgow Harbour and reaching the hospital via the Clyde Tunnel, to which it is adjacent. Since my preferred route as far as Glasgow Harbour costs about £22 million, the £18 million left over from the £40 million ought to be enough for my alternative route to the Southern General Hospital.
A missed opportunity.

Charlie Gordon, 5th October 2011



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