A PACKED paddle steamer made its first stop of the season at Clacton Pier drawing a large crowd of on-lookers.

Waverley pulled alongside the attraction’s berthing arm on Saturday stopping for more than an hour on its way to London’s Tower Bridge.

The trip on the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer was a complete sell-out as was the cruise to the capital today.

However, spaces are still available on October 4 for a River Blackwater cruise leaving the pier at 3.30pm and returning at 6pm.

Places are also up for grabs on October 5 boarding Waverley at 12noon to head for the River Thames and Tower Bridge, returning by coach to Clacton at 10.30pm.

The steamship is charity-owned and is registered on The National Historic Fleet. She was built in 1946 and now operates passenger excursions around the British Coast.

Pier communications manager Nigel Brown said that Waverley is a popular sight at the pier and always pulls a crowd.

“It was great to see her full and she had the perfect day for the sailing to London on Saturday,” he added.

“Pier staff were on hand to take the ropes as she came in and they were also able to have a look round the engine room, which was a great opportunity for them.”

Tim Wardley, Chairman of the National Piers Society with a 30-year association with the paddle steamer, said that Clacton is a vital calling point in the Thames schedule.

“We are extremely grateful to the owners and management at Clacton Pier for their continued support and hospitality afforded to Waverley,” he added.

For further information and to book a cruise go to waverleyexcursions.co.uk or alternatively phone 01412 432224 or pay on board.