Waverley paddle steamer docks at Folkestone

The Waverley is one of the last sea-going paddle steamers in action across Britain.  It is the National Flagship of the Year 2024, awarded by National Historic Ships UK.  First launched in 1946, this ship spent a lot of time ferrying passengers in Scottish Lochs.  Now it is embarking on a summer of excursions around the British coastline, docking in Folkestone for the first time in 20 years.  On October 3rd 2024, passengers will be able to embark from Folkestone Harbour, and travel to Whitstable and London on the Waverley.  It’s an historic moment; one to watch, and one to take part in.

history in the making

Many reminisce or wish they had seen the days when ferries worked regularly from Folkestone Harbour.  This October, at 10.30am, the Waverley will depart, with its 700 passengers, for a wonderful sight-seeing trip around our historic coastline.  Not only on show are such geological beauties as the White Cliffs of Dover, there is also a plethora of wildlife to witness as the paddle steamer makes its way around the South East coastline.

Negotiating the nose of Kent as the Waverley makes its way towards the Thames Estuary is one of the busiest shipping areas in the country.

Waverley Paddle Steamer
Folkestone Swing Bridge and Viaduct with ships
Folkestone Harbour vintage
Waverley and Tower Bridge

folkestone and london in a day

The Waverley will dock in Whitstable at around 1.30pm and exchange some passengers for the onward trip towards London.  Taking in the Red Sands Fort and the Thames Estuary, passengers will come into London and pass under a flood-lit Tower Bridge.   Then you have a choice: stay in London overnight, or catch the coach back to Folkestone (arriving around 10.15pm).

history of the Waverley

The Waverley was the last paddle steamer to be built for services in Clyde.  Working across Scotland from 1946 to 1973, it was sold for £1 to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society in 1974.  This is when the steamer took on its second life travelling the length of the British coastline.  As will all ships, constant maintenance happened until the Waverley was taken out of service in 2019.

Save The Waverley charity was launched and many people have supported its boiler refit so it could return to service.  Since Covid, the Waverley has embarked on country-wide cruises that mean that everyone can benefit from seeing this historic vessel in action.  Come to Folkestone Harbour to have a look, and book your seats for an historic voyage around the coastline.

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