A WORLD-famous paddle steamer won’t be visiting Dorset this year as it has been withdrawn from service.

For the first time in 45 years the Waverley, which is the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer, will not operate any of her sailing programme.

Work on the ship’s boilers has been ongoing since February and operators have announced that following an “extensive” consultation and investigation, the boilers must be replaced if the Waverley is to have a future.

Paul Semple, Waverley excursions general manager, said: “The whole Waverley team is deeply disappointed that we are unable to repair the ship’s boilers and operate this season despite every effort being made to overcome the challenges presented.”

“I know first-hand the fondness that the general public have for Waverley and I know this news will be disappointing for the tens of thousands of passengers who would have sailed with us this year around the UK.”

The charity which owns Waverley will launch an appeal to save the ship and ensure she sails again.

Mr Semple added: “The cost of the required works is significant but if every passenger who would have sailed this year was able to donate the cost of a ticket towards the appeal then we will be able to return Waverley to steam next year.”

The steamer visited Swanage Pier last September, taking in The Isle of Wight, Portsmouth Dockyard and the Jurassic Coast.

A recent economic impact survey said the Waverley contributes over £5.6m to the UK economy and the equivalent of 136 jobs per year.