A £2.3million appeal to save iconic North Devon visitor the Waverley has reached its target.

The new boilers for the Waverley are taking shape. Picture: Waverley ExcursionsThe new boilers for the Waverley are taking shape. Picture: Waverley Excursions

The fundraiser has hit its total just seven months after it was announced that the famous steamship would not operate in 2019.

The Boiler Refit Appeal attracted donations from more than 8,000 individuals, with support from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, several trusts and £1million from the Scottish Government.

Arnold Clark and the Swire Charitable Trust have both just confirmed their support taking the appeal to its target.

Waverley was a popular visitor to Ilfracombe and other Bristol Channel ports and there was sadness when it was announced it was not coming this year.

After around four months of refit work she is expected to undertake her regular cruises around the west of Scotland, the Mersey, the Bristol Channel, south coast and the Thames in 2020.

Eddie Hawthorne, CEO and group managing director for Arnold Clark, said: "I'm delighted that we're able to contribute £50,000 towards the restoration of the Waverley.

"Arnold Clark understands how significant the ship and its heritage is to Glasgow and we were keen to help towards the £2.3m fundraising target. I'm looking forward to seeing the Waverley on her way back 'doon the watter' soon."

Waverley's new boilers are currently being built by Cochran's Ltd in Annan and are due to be completed in February.

The work required on the ship will involve the removal of the iconic twin funnels to allow access to the boiler room.

Waverley Excursions general manager Paul Semple said: "Thanks to the fantastic generosity of so many people and organisations we are now able to push 'full ahead' with Waverley's boiler refit which will be the most substantial refit since her rebuild was completed back in 2003.

"I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the appeal and supported our efforts to save the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world."

Waverley is owned by a registered charity and operated on a not-for-profit basis.

The recent appeal for cash has been the most successful in the ship's preservation career but ongoing support will be required given the annual cost of dry docking and refit.

Mr Semple added: "The trustees of the Waverley charity believe that ongoing charitable giving must now form a greater part of Waverley's long-term operational survival to ensure she remains in service.

"We are deeply grateful to all those who have helped this year, and in the months and years ahead, will ask those who care and who are able to help, to add Waverley to their permanent thoughts."