THE HISTORIC paddle steamer Waverley has been withdrawn from service and will not operate any of her sailing programme for the first time in 45 years.

Work on the ship’s boilers has been ongoing since February and following an investigation it has been concluded that the boilers must be replaced if Waverley is to have a future and sail in 2020.

Waverley Excursions General Manager, Paul Semple, said: “The whole Waverley team is deeply disappointed that we are unable to repair the ship’s boilers and operate this season despite every effort being made to overcome the challenges presented.

"I know first-hand the fondness that the general public have for Waverley and I know this news will be disappointing for the tens of thousands of passengers who would have sailed with us this year around the UK.

"The registered charity which owns Waverley will shortly launch an appeal to save the ship and ensure she sails again.

"The cost of the required works is significant but if every passenger who would have sailed this year was able to donate the cost of a ticket towards the appeal then we will be able to return Waverley to steam next year.

"More than ever we need support to preserve this iconic vessel as the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world.”

The withdrawal of Waverley will be felt by the many coastal communities she visits on her annual programme.

Last year the Waverley operated in the Solent area visiting a variety of destinations, including Swanage, Portsmouth and Yarmouth, as well as travelling along the Jurassic Coast to Weymouth.

A recent Economic Impact Survey revealed that Waverley contributes over £5.6 million to the UK economy, with the equivalent of 136 jobs per annum.

The original Waverley carried passengers on the River Clyde between 1899 and 1939.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War she was used to evacuate children from Glasgow before being requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into a minesweeper.

In 1974 Waverley was sold to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society for a nominal £1 and began a second career as a tourist attraction.

She has since carried more than five million passengers from 60 ports around the UK.

The historic ship is operated on a charitable basis by Waverley Steam Navigation Co.