On Wednesday (6 July), the paddle steamer Waverley paid its first visit of the season to Tarbert’s newly-refurbished East Pier.
In recent years, the Waverley’s timetable of Tarbert visits has been restricted by the state of the tide, and at times, when berthing at the East Pier, the vessel has required the assistance of fishing boats, acting as tugs.
However, recent strengthening and improvement works to the harbourside facility mean that the iconic ship is once again able to berth unaided, and to do so at any stage of the tide.
The recent work, which is expected to ensure that the East Pier remains useable for at least the next 15 years, has allowed the Waverley to resume a full complement of Tarbert visits this summer.
On Wednesday, the vessel’s arrival was crisp and clean. For the final few yards to the pier, her massive paddle-wheels churned in reverse, bringing her gently to a halt.
As disembarking passengers prepared to explore the village, local people and tourists embarked for a two-hour cruise to the Arran Coast.
Alan Macdonald, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Tarbert (Loch Fyne) Harbour Authority (TLFHA), said: “The Waverley has had a long association with Tarbert and its visits have given a lot of enjoyment to many people over the years”.
He added: “(The recent work) confirms the Harbour Board’s commitment to the future of the East Pier. It is hoped that additional passenger boats will be encouraged to use Tarbert as a calling-in point, and as a temporary base for cruising”.
In advance of Wednesday’s visit, the Waverley’s Captain Andy O’Brian, said: “Tarbert is one of our most popular trips, and we are delighted that (the Harbour Authority) has invested in the future of the pier. Each week in summer, Waverley visits Tarbert, following the route that Queen Victoria made famous on her first visit to Scotland in 1847”.
He added: “The works on the pier secure over 160 years of history! We hope that the local community will turn out to help celebrate this great achievement …”
Amongst those taking Wednesday’s Arran Coast cruise from Tarbert were friends Joan Smart and Phyllis Marsh, both from Norfolk, who are holidaying in Tarbert. Prior to boarding, they looked forward to enjoying views of the Kintyre Peninsula and Arran, and to taking home with them memories to savour long after their holiday has ended. Clearly enjoying their expedition, they embarked to the sound of the pipes.
The East Pier regeneration project was funded by the European Rural Development Fund (ERDF) via Argyll & Bute Council, by a donation made by a benefactor of the Waverley, and from Tarbert (Loch Fyne) Harbour Authority reserves.