SEVENTY years young, the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer yesterday marked the anniversary of its maiden voyage.

Cheered on by a crowd of people on the harbourside behind Glasgow Science Centre, Waverley set off just after 10am to retrace its journey to Loch Long, which it first made on June 16, 1947, two years after the end of the war in Europe.

Yesterday’s passengers included Alistair Thores and James Stevenson, who had both been aboard the maiden voyage. On the quayside, Chris Stephens, SNP MP for Glasgow South West, cut one of four special birthday cakes that were then served to passengers.

Seventy red, white or black balloons were released. Tickets were placed within each one – and whoever finds a balloon will get a free cruise on Waverley.

Kathleen O’Neill, chief executive of Waverley Excursions, spoke of her pride of the achievements of Waverley, which has sailed under preservation since the mid-1970s..

She said: “For over 40 years Waverley has been the world’s last sea-going Paddle steamer. Her endurance is a combination of things. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience encompassing history, heritage, culture, magnificent scenery, engineering excellence and fun and adventure – there is something for everyone.

“There are people who remember her when she was one of many paddle steamers plying her trade on the Clyde, and there are those who have passed the memory of these journeys down from generation to generation.

“Waverley has harnessed these memories all around the coast of the UK where there were fleets of Paddle Steamers and today provides local communities a chance to step on board an interactive museum”.

Asked if there were any new plans for Waverley, she said: “In a word, no. Over Waverley’s lifetime many traditional steamer piers have closed and many other berths regularly used by Waverley and her peers have either fallen into dis-repair or been modified to accommodate larger and more modern vessels.

“This gives Waverley fewer destinations to choose from and sometimes makes passenger transfers impossible.

“Waverley’s timetable has been fine-tuned over her 40-plus years in preservation and what we currently do works financially, and complies with her certification and crew working-hours legislation”.

Despite her advanced years, Waverley still looked great yesterday as it stole the show.