REPAIRS to Helensburgh’s pier could cost almost £1million – and it may not be ready for the Paddle Steamer Waverley’s 2020 season.

Argyll and Bute Council made the admissions after Waverley Excursions Ltd confirmed that the iconic boat will not stop at the town during its 2019 summer timetable.

It had previously been known that the much-loved vessel would not visit Helensburgh during its late May Bank Holiday schedule.

She will instead call at Kilcreggan Pier during two of her trips. Kilcreggan will also be used as a stop-off over the rest of the year, with a shuttle bus service being provided to and from Helensburgh.

READ MORE: Waverley won't sail from Helensburgh at all this summer

A spokesperson for the council said: “A full structural analysis of the pier by our design services team is ongoing, however early findings indicate that major work will be required before the pier can be made available for berthing.

“The analysis so far suggests costs could be in excess of £800,000. There is no budget yet allocated for the works, and no guarantee they would be completed in time for the 2020 season.

“Updates will be provided once more detailed information is available.”

Council leader Aileen Morton (Helensburgh Central) was also dismayed by the potential cost but added that Helensburgh remained a positive tourist destination.

She said: “It’s really concerning to hear that the scale of works required to the pier is so substantial.

“Clearly we need to wait and see what the final report says but costs of nearly £1million to get the pier re-opened are higher than expected. Obviously, such substantial repairs will also take time.

“While the pier is one of the defining characteristics of the town, equally there are many, many other reasons to spend time in Helensburgh.”

READ MORE: Helensburgh pier group reacts to Waverley announcement

Waverley Excursions Ltd said in a statement that its main Clyde summer season will run from Friday, June 14 to Sunday, September 1.

The Waverley will depart from Kilcreggan Pier at 12.10pm every Saturday during that window except June 22, returning there at 6.40pm.

It will be a stop on a trip which goes as far as Tighnabruaich, part of the Kyles of Bute. Shuttle bus connections will leave Helensburgh at 11am.

It will also call on Thursdays from June 27 to August 29 inclusive, departing Kilcreggan at 12.20pm and returning at 8.30pm. Cruises that day are to Pladda and the Holy Isle, off the south and east coasts of Arran, with the shuttle bus leaving Helensburgh at 11.15am.

Kilcreggan Pier will also be used on Sunday, October 20 as part of a trip called ‘The Last Sail of the Decade’. It will visit Loch Long via Arrochar and Loch Goil, departing Kilcreggan at 12.05pm and returning at 4.55pm.

However, there is no mention on the timetable of a shuttle bus connection from Helensburgh for that trip.

READ MORE: Helensburgh pier closed to marine traffic on safety grounds

The statement added: “Unfortunately, Helensburgh Pier will not be available to Waverley this season.

“But to maintain links with the supportive local community in Helensburgh Waverley Excursions will operate a bus link to Kilcreggan every Thursday and Saturday to connect with the ship.

“We are grateful for the support shown to Waverley by locals and visitors from Helensburgh over many years.

“For this season we will increase the number of calls at Kilcreggan to allow us to maintain a service from Helensburgh.

“We are grateful to Argyll and Bute Council for its assistance in allowing Waverley to make additional calls at Kilcreggan.

“Waverley’s Clyde timetable will be published over the coming days with passengers from Helensburgh being advised to book in advance if they wish to make use of the inclusive bus service to Kilcreggan.”

As well as the River Clyde, the Waverley also has a timetable planned for the Western Isles during her 2019 season.

She is also planned to visit other parts of the United Kingdom, including the River Thames and the Irish Sea.