Historic paddle steamer the Waverley has been a popular visitor to Southend for decades with its much-loved river cruises.

As the world's last seagoing paddle steamer returns to the landmark pier again in September, we've dug through our archives to find these pictures of passengers enjoying the vessel's the 2012 return to the then-town.

Echo: The Waverley on the waterThe Waverley on the water (Image: Newsquest)

It was thought 2011 would be the Waverley's last season of cruises as a fundraising campaign, Save the Waverley, was launched to raise £350,000 to keep the ships going.


That summer Nick James, chairman of the ship’s owners, the Glasgow-based charity, Waverley Steam Navigation Company, told the Echo: “We have exciting plans for 2012, but we must make sure we have the funds necessary for essential winter maintenance.”

However, a paddle steamer expert closer to home, Southend councillor Derek Jarvis remained optimistic about the return as he said "they always seem able to get people to rally round and raise the money".

Echo: Passengers aboard the steamerPassengers aboard the steamer (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Jarvis turned out to be right as the Waverley was back at the pier in 2012 and, as these photos show, full of passengers excited for the cruises.

Waverley Excursions offers trips from the end of the iconic pier along the River Blackwater and River Medway, as well as trips along the Thames to Tower Bridge and the Second World War Maunsell Forts.


A highlight of this year’s programme, from September 22 until October 8, will be Waverley taking centre stage in a ships parade on Saturday September 30, where it will meet a number of other historic vessels including Steam Tug Challenge, X-Pilot, Vic 96 and Touchstone.

Echo: People queue on Southend Pier to board the WaverleyPeople queue on Southend Pier to board the Waverley (Image: Newsquest)

In celebration of Southend winning pier of the year 2023, the company has also announced an "unforgettable" cruise for September 22 for the exciting achievement, offering a view of the pier from a unique perspective alongside the sights of the historic Thames Forts.

Echo: Part of the historic vesselPart of the historic vessel (Image: Newsquest)

The Waverle was built at Glasgow on the River Clyde in 1947. It has become a regular visitor to Southend, and underwent a £7million refit in 2003.

Echo: Birdseye view of the WaverleyBirdseye view of the Waverley (Image: Newsquest)

Echo: Another birds eye view of passengersAnother birds eye view of passengers (Image: Newsquest)