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© 2004 P. Donald M. Kelly

The right of P. Donald M. Kelly to be identified as Author of this

is hereby identified by him in accordance with The Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act 1988.

P. Donald M. Kelly

© 2004 P. Donald M. Kelly

now has pride of place in Armitage Shanks historic collection
in Staffordshire.

The geographically and socially ‘twinned’ villages of

Introduction Skelmorlie and Wemyss Bay were home to many well known
shipping and shipbuilding families, the Scott’s and the
“There is an immense conversation in the sea” Denholm’s; the Dunn’s of Harrison’s and the Willan’s of
(The 8th Duke of Argyll) Constantine Lines and to the Dunnet’s who now own
Ferguson’s Port Glasgow shipyard. The villages were also

T he beginning of the end of the Clyde Steamer excursion

services began at the end of the 1964 summer season
when both the turbine-driven “Duchess of Montrose” and
home to the families of some of the men who crewed the
Clyde Steamers and to others who sailed ‘deep sea’ so it is
little surprising that I found myself drawn to a wide range of
the paddle-steamer “Jeannie Deans” were withdrawn from interests and not just to the Clyde Steamers themselves.
service. In the half dozen or so years that followed, the At the end of the 1890’s, a decision was taken to double-up
traditional pier-to-pier passenger services and links quickly most the railway line from Port Glasgow to Wemyss Bay and
shrank and disappeared leaving only an unintegrated to rebuild Wemyss Bay’s railway station and pier.
skeleton of car ferry services to meet commuter and tourist
needs. The new station-pier complex, the Queen Anne-style station
with its half-circle passenger concourse and sixty-foot high
I was brought up in the Ayrshire village of Skelmorlie, beside clock tower, designed by The Caledonian Railway Company’s
and overlooking Wemyss Bay. The Clyde’s steamers and own architect James Miller, opened on Monday, December
ships were then very much part of everyday life and my 7, 1903 and drew immediate acclaim, not least from a party
father, the Customs and Excise’s Landing Officer at Prince’s of Japanese railway and shipping company directors staying
Dock in Glasgow in the 1950’s, had me well schooled in the at Castle Wemyss as Lord Inverclyde’s guests, there being
ways of the ships from an early age. then, as even now, many business links between Scotland
and Japan.
Our house, built by my parents, directly overlooked the start
of Skelmorlie’s Measured Mile and Wemyss Bay’s Pier and Such was the admiration of the Japanese officials that they
Railway Station and, in winter, with the leaves fallen from asked for copies of the plans for Wemyss Bay’s new station-
the trees, I could see the very spot where the little pier complex returning to Japan with the intention of building
“Kintyre” had sunk in 1907, the year before my mother an identical ‘twin’ terminus for themselves.
was born.
Having grown up overlooking this most beautiful and
As events transpired, I would buy my very first car from ‘the functional of all Scotland and Britain’s railway termini and
(then) schoolboy’, Ninian Stewart, who had rowed out in a been fortunate enough to have enjoyed the final days of the
boat and rescued John M’Kechnie, the skipper of the real Clyde steamers, I would like to think that what follows
“Kintyre”, after she had been sunk by the “Maori”. One here will encourage armchair sailors and today’s anoraked
of the “Kintyre’s” white porcelain toilet pans, in near Clyde Steamer enthusiasts go ‘Doon The Watter’ again in the
pristine condition and brought to the surface in recent years, old Clyde Steamers.
..... and Weather
The first section of the book focuses on a ‘composite’ 96
account of a 1950’s/1960’s Saturday when it was possible to
travel on most of the Clyde steamer fleet and spend the Teletext Weather Pages
afternoon down-firth cruising round Ailsa Craig on the 99
“Duchess of Montrose”, included in the account are
recollections and details of many, now largely forgotten, The Hovercraft and The Catamaran
‘goings-on’ of these ‘halcyon days’. 100

The next section of the book is about steam engines and A Ferry Good Idea
some of the more notable and early ships. While the early 104
development of marine engines owed much to the
contributions of James Watt, the Americans too were at the The “Hebridean Princess”
forefront of their early trials. 113

From “Queen To Knooz”


Keeping Up Steam

An Overseas Mystery

Contents Waverley Passenger Certificates (2001)

Keeping Up Steam
Argyll County Council Ferries (1909)
Day Sea Rover

Steam and Engines


Time for Tides



n compiling the story here, it was inevitable and
necessary to refer to many published ‘standard’
references. These include the various editions of
Duckworth and Langmuir’s “”Clyde River and Other
Steamers” and their “West Highland Steamers”, Alan J.S.
Paterson’s “The Golden Years of The Clyde Steamers (1889-
1914)”, Brian Patton’s “Scottish Coastal Steamers 1918- Note on Paging and Indexes
1975”, Fraser G. MacHaffie’s “The Short Sea Route”, Fred M.
Walker’s “Song of The Clyde”, the many works of Ian On occasion, the page numbers in the indexes may not
McCrorie whose own grandfather was station master at correspond exactly with the pages in the texts and the reader
Wemyss Bay, to the pages of “Ships Monthly” and “Sea may, most usually, have to scan the page following that
Breezes”, to many old and local newspapers and to a listed for the desired reference.
miscellany of steamer enthusiast sources and references.
The reason for these ‘discrepancies’ is simple. The original
A special note of thanks to my late father who developed my texts and indexes were prepared using Lotus WordPro 97
interests in shipping and to Duncan MacMillan of Kintyre’s software, it being chosen because Lotus allows allows the
Antiquarian and Historical Society without whose generosity user to print out A5 booklets, Microsoft Word software
and support little of this work would have been possible, to programs denying this and only allowing users to print out A5
Duncan Ritchie of Carradale, to Hamish Mackinven of ‘booklet page layouts’ on A4 sheets ! Microsoft Publisher
Edinburgh, to Captain John Leesmoffat, to the late Ian software programs will, with a lot of patience, allow A5
Shannon and to the many other, some long departed, friends booklets to be printed but not everyone has Microsot
that I made through our mutual interest in ‘steamers’ and Publisher available to them and for that reason these texts
The Strathmartine Trust. and indexes have been transferred to Microsoft Word discs
Donald Kelly, Kintyre, 2004. for the convenience of others. Further, the page margins of
Microsoft Word are not as large as those available on Lotus
WordPro 97 and, as a consequence, the index page
numbering differences, referred to here, arise.

Donald Kelly, Kintyre, 2004. of the turbine steamer “Duchess of Montrose” on a trip to
looks at the MacBrayne fleet and West Highland services.
covers the steamer history of the loch from 1820 to 1990
when the
former Loch Awe motorship“Countess Fiona” /
”Countess of
Breadalbane” was finally withdrawn.
* THE GOLDEN YEARS OF THE P.S. “Waverley” 1947 -
covers her first 50 years around the coasts.
Clyde Steamers On Video (16196) £18.99*

hough the days of the Clyde Steamers are now but distant * Excursion Ships in The Wake of The Paddlers
memories, the atmosphere and prosperity of their times has (16314) £12.99*
been captured and preserved on a number of VHS-video films features 21 ships from around the U.K. including
which will trigger many people’s memories of their own childhood “Waverley” and
days and the glories of summers past. Readers of “Ships Monthly” “Balmoral” and the ill-fated “Southsea” which, as the
and “Sea Breezes” magazines will already be familiar with the “Prince
advertisements of companies and indeed individuals from whom Ivanhoe”, was wrecked on the Welsh Gower Coast.
such video films can be purchased and a list from Mainmast Books, * Ships of The Clyde (16194)
251 Copnor Road, Portsmouth, Hants. PO3 5EE Telephone number £18.99*
023-9264-5555 is indicative of those available. shows the vast variety of ships, from clippers to liners, from
* CLYDE STEAMER MEMORIES (Part 1) (8356) steamers to tugs, which appeared on the Clyde between
£21.99* 1859
recording the period from 1919 to 1949 its commentary and 1959.
given by * Isle of Man Steam Packet - The Island Lifeline
Largs-based BBC presenter Iain Anderson. Black and White (16148) £19.99*
* CLYDE STEAMER MEMORIES (Part 2) (8357) features the Manx ‘baby-liners’“Lady of Mann” and “Ben-
£21.15* My-Chree”
continues the story from 1949 through to 1989. Colour which often sailed from Ardrossan to Douglas and too looks
* CLYDE STEAMER MEMORIES (16180) at the cargo
£21.99* and ‘ro-ro’ car ferries on the Isle of Man services.
* DOON THE WATER (16252) £
9.99* * The Video Film Prices Listed Here should be checked with
is a compilation of British Transport Commission films, the advertisers.
of Clyde”, its commentary by the late Bernard Braden,
includes film
Keeping Up Steam renamed “Prince Ivanhoe”, she took up her integrated
excursion programme of sailings in 1981. Sadly, she struck a

‘submerged reef’, some maintain ‘a submarine’, off The
his is a book for ‘arm-chair sailors’ and coastal
Gower Coast on Monday, August 3, 1981 and, safely
excursion enthusiasts alike and it is hoped that anyone
beached to evacuate her passengers and crew, she was
who has in an interest in ‘steamers’ will read and re-
subsequently broken up where she lay. Five years later, in
read the work of other authors with special and renewed
1986, “Waverley (IV)” was joined by the twin-screw 1949-
interest for, given the insights and materials here, they
built “Balmoral”.
should be well equipped to imagine themselves bringing their
own favourite ships alongside piers past and present.

With but two British coastal excursion ships left, the paddle DAY SEA ROVER
steamer “Waverley (IV)” and the twin-screw motorship
“Balmoral” and these ships rarely crossing each others
wakes in service, the only way to gain any insight into the
heyday of excursion sailings is to delve into the numerous
B rought up in the village of Skelmorlie, my parents’ house
overlooking the south side and end of Wemyss Bay Pier, I
had more opportunities than any of my contemporaries to
enthusiast books on the Clyde and other steamers. While indulge my interests in the Clyde Steamers and, despite the
most of such books go into great detail about the individual passing of the years, I have clear memories of the many
ships and operating companies etc., few authors attempt to happy days that I spent steaming around the Clyde in
give their readers any real feel of how they operated and the summer and winter.
aim here is to take the reader around the Clyde and,
hopefully, to broaden the reader’s view and understanding Things That Went ‘Thump-Thump-Thump’ In The Night
of how the ships operated in service.
One of my first memories was the ‘thump-thump-thump’
Withdrawn from service at the end of the 1973 season, the sound of the diesel-engined Burns-Laird/Coast Lines ships
1947-built paddle-steamer “Waverley (IV)” was handed passing up and down river on the Irish run in, what was then
over to The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society in 1974 to me, the middle of the night.
and, after an inaugural cruise on the Thursday, gave her first
public sailing on Saturday, May 24, 1975, an excursion from Begun in 1826, the Glasgow and Londonderry service
Glasgow’s Anderston Quay to Gourock, Dunoon, Tarbert operated for a full 140 years, the route’s final passenger
and Ardrishaig, the old ‘Royal Route’ of MacBrayne’s mail sailing, from ‘Derry to Glasgow Saturday, September 10,
steamer service. Three years later, on Saturday, June 24, 1966. On alternate nights, at about 9 p.m., the little 1944-
1978, she repeated the excursion as a centennial tribute to built “Lairds Loch” would wake me up as she passed
MacBrayne’s famous paddle-steamer “Columba” leaving Skelmorlie on her outward run and then, returning up-river
Glasgow’s Stobcross Quay at 7.11 a.m.. on the following night, I would hear her engines again
somewhere between 3 and 4 a.m.. The “Lairds Loch”,
To complement “Waverley (IV)” and generate more funds withdrawn from the ‘Derry service and only occasionally used
for her upkeep, another consortium refurbished the former for reliefs, was sold in January 1969 and, after sailing via
Portsmouth - Ryde passenger ferry “Shanklin” and, The Cape of Good Hope for The Gulf of Aqaba, took up
service - complete with her old Scottish cutlery - on a new Belfast service at the end of August 1969 and deposed from
thrice-weekly service between Eilat and Sharm-el-Sheikh, an the, now all-year, Ardrossan- Belfast service by the
eight hour crossing. Running aground and suffering heavy introduction of the new purpose-built car-ferry “Lion” at the
damage in a difficult location some seven miles away from beginning of 1968, was sold to the Greek Kavounides
her Sharm-el-Sheikh terminus on September 3, 1970, she Shipping in November 1969 and, totally rebuilt as the
was written off and scrapped. “Galaxias”, began offering short three and four day long
cruises in the summer of 1970.
Nightly, except Saturdays, I would hear the engines of the
ships on Burns-Laird’s nightly Glasgow - Belfast service, it The last of the nightly ‘thumps’ came from the 1952-built
operated by the “Royal Scotsman” and “Royal “Irish Coast”, designed primarily to systematically relieve
Ulsterman”. The “Royal Scotsman” made her final run, the other Coast Lines’ Irish Sea crossing ships for overhauls,
from Belfast to Glasgow, on the evening of Friday, had been operating the thrice-weekly overnight Glasgow -
September 29, 1967 being replaced by newer 1957 Belfast- Dublin service since 1964, the route closing with her final
built “Scottish Coast” which had been operating the sailing from Dublin to Glasgow on the evening of Saturday,
summer-only ‘daylight’ Ardrossan - Belfast ‘car-ferry’ service. February 10, 1968. She then covered on the Glasgow-Belfast
Then the “Royal Ulsterman”, her final sailing on Saturday, service until she too was withdrawn, her final sailing being
December 30, 1967, was withdrawn leaving the “Scottish from Glasgow on Wednesday, April 10, 1968 and was sold to
Coast” to continue the overnight Glasgow to Belfast service the Epirtiki Steamship Co. “George Potamianos” S.A. of
on her own till its closure at the end of August 1969. Piraeus leaving Birkenhead, renamed “Orpheus”, on August
22, 1968, for Greece.
At the end of October 1967, the “Royal Scotsman” was
sold to The Hubbard Exploration Co. Ltd., a body which Now a 300-passenger cruise ship, the “Orpheus” attracted
caused great stir in the press and Parliament when it was interest of a group of Glasgow businessmen who formed The
found that it embraced the cult of Scientology. Renamed Enso Atlantic Shipping Company Ltd. to explore the
“Royal Scotman”, the ship sailed for Sierra Leone and the possibility of chartering her for the 1969 season and reviving
port of Freetown where she was duly registered under her the recently abandoned Liverpool - Greenock - Montreal route
newly adapted name. which had previously been operated by The Canadian Pacific
Railway Company. Operating the ship as the “Eros”, the
Her sister-ship, the “Royal Ulsterman” was sold to company proposed giving substantial fare discounts to ex-
shipbuilders Cammel Laird on March 29, 1968 and, after pats and senior citizens, students and other bodies and
being used to accommodate shipyard workers on a contract groups but, beyond the company’s assertion of good
at Southampton, was sold to Mediterranean Link Lines of intentions, the venture sank without trace.
Famagusta, she arrived at Piraeus on May 1, 1970 and
almost immediately began a fortnightly service between Early Memories
Marseilles and Haifa with calls at Naples and Famagusta on
the outward runs and then at Limassol, Piraeus and Genoa Going to Skelmorlie Primary School in the early 1950’s - the
on her return trip. school opened by the then Skelmorlie resident William
Thomson, he later to be Lord Kelvin, on Tuesday, September
The “Scottish Coast”, now withdrawn from the Glasgow - 25, 1866 - I awoke to the sound of paddles, first those of
the beautiful little “Duchess of Fife” and later, after her lying dried out on Kilchattan Bay’s sandy beach to have her
withdrawal, to those of the “Marchioness of Lorne”. hull anti-fouled - Loch Riddon and The Holy Loch were also
well-suited for drying-out to allow painting and hull
The “Duchess of Fife”, familiar to me on the Wemyss Bay - inspections.
Largs - Millport - Kilchattan Bay service, was unusual in that,
though she had a triple expansion engine, her Rankin & The “Duchess of Fife” was withdrawn on Saturday, June 6,
Blackmore engine had only two crank rods to the paddle- 1953 and just a year earlier, on Tuesday, June 10, 1952, I
shaft. Given two high-pressure cylinders, one aligned to the came home from school at lunchtime and watched the
intermediate and the other to the low-pressure cylinder, the veteran turbine “King Edward” being towed down to the
cylinder pistons joined in tandem to drive each crank-rod. shipbreaker’s yard at Troon.
Fitted with an impulse valve allowing steam from the boilers
to be sent direct to the intermediate cylinder, effectively The World’s First Commercial Passenger Turbine
bypassing and isolating the high-pressure cylinders and Steamer
allowing the engine to be run as a simple ‘two-cylinder’
compound engine, the “Duchess of Fife” could produce My only memory of being on board the “King Edward” is of
rapid, though short-lived, bursts of speed to race her rivals the maze of steam pipes around the engine room and the
to piers. fact that her engine control platform was right down on the
bottom ‘lower’ deck. One of her original chief engineers
Another of my early favourites was The Canadian Pacific stayed in Skelmorlie, just along the road from my parents
Railway liner “Empress of Scotland” (ex- “Empress of and he told my father that, despite the reports in the marine
Japan”) and she, the “Duchess of Fife” and the “Jeanie engineering press, the “King Edward” consumed just 11
Deans” were all designed by Professor Percy Hillhouse, tons of coal per day, not the 18 tons that was recorded in
Fairfield Shipyard’s own naval architect. While the little the official records, a figure that was only reached if the ship
“Duchess of Fife” had cost £6,038 9s 6d, the bigger and had ‘been obliged’ to race against her rivals in her early
30-year younger “Jeanie Deans” cost £52,650 - I never sailing days. This old retired chief engineer remarked to my
found out what the “Empress of Scotland” cost. father that there were at least two full railway coal yards in
the area “to which all-comers would be welcome” when he
The “Empress of Scotland” was centre-piece on died for the coal was already paid for and nobody except
Skelmorlie Bowling Club’s lapel badge and the club’s flagpole himself knew its proper destination !
had been once the mainmast of the America Cup ‘J-Class’
challenger “Valkyrie”. ‘Page 3’ Girl

Although generally unrecorded, the “Duchess of Fife”, at And so to the little “Marchioness of Lorne”, too slow for
least on one occasion, dropped her gangway at Wemyss Bay the Millport run and broken up in February 1955.
Pier and just nineteen minutes later began unloading her
passengers at Rothesay ! Built by Fairfield’s yard, in 1935, there was a shipyard strike
on the go at the time and, as the companies were desperate
Although once a common practice, supposedly long officially to get the new ship in service, the finishing of the ship was
abandoned, I remember seeing the “Duchess of Fife” left to Fairfield’s apprentices who were excluded from the
strike. led to the making of the famous 1953-made puffer film “The
Maggie”, a film and story which, to my mind, is vastly
Known later to only a handful of people was the fact that, in superior to any of the BBC’s attempts to bring “Para Handy”
her lower saloon, the mischievous apprentices fitted a most into life on television.
wonderfully crafted piece of marquetry, an inlaid wooden
panel showing a full frontal 1930’s style ‘Page 3’ girl ! Puffers

Sadly, though all the apprentices received handsome The Rothesay-based “Norman” which had taken the last
bonuses for finishing the ship quickly, the companies’ Campbeltown & Machrihanish railway locomotive to the
directors, rather than remove the ‘young lady’, simply had a Ayrshire scrapyards, the Millport-based “Saxon” which had
slightly larger and plain wood panel ‘screwed’, if that is the been employed as the “Vital Spark” to make the first BBC
appropriate word, on top of the apprentices’ work ! television series of “Para Handy Tales” and the Brodick-
Music Lessons based “Roman” were an integral part of the scene in my
childhood days and I can still remember something of my
Next on the Millport run was the diesel-electric “Talisman” excitement when I was taken to see “The Maggie” at the
and, as she took up the run in 1954, I began going for piano old Viking Cinema in Largs.
lessons in Largs - by ‘steamer’ as it was about six-pence
cheaper than going by bus and that sixpence saved allowed “Calvin B. Marshall”
me to uses the buses from Largs Pier to my music teacher’s
house. Calvin B. Marshall was of course the somewhat brash,
impetuous and quite
These were the days when buses were virtually as ‘unique’ as luckless American tycoon whose material sacrifice was
the steamers and Clyde Coast Services Ltd. bus fleet then rewarded when his name was bestowed on one of Scotland’s
included four Crossley-bodied Crossley double-deckers, a well-remembered and famous but fictional ships, a puffer,
1929 Daimler wooden-seated double decker and a new flat- the “Maggie”.
fronted Leyland ‘Royal Tiger’ (?) single-decker 45-seat service
bus. The whimsical story, dreamed up by the film’s director
Alexander Mackendrick, was written into a ‘screenplay’ by
Though I was only nine-years old when the “Talisman” took William Rose who wrote the script for “Genevieve”. The
up the Millport run, I was allowed to travel to music lessons music for “The Maggie” was written by John Addison who
on my own, partly ‘chaperoned’ by the Skelmorlie lady who composed the music for the “Murder She Wrote” television
ran the little shop on board the “Talisman”, her own series.
daughter too being a music teacher. This lady was too a
friend of Nicholas Monsarrat, the author of “The Cruel Sea” The 1953 Ealing comedy film “The Maggie” is a wicked
which was made into a film and around that same period little satire on the mutual contempt that even today underlies
Frank Gollings, who devised and wrote the screenplay for Euro-American relations and in many ways the seemingly
“The Yangtse Incident”, the film story of H.M.S. leisurely, gentle-humoured and happily-concluded tale is
“Amethyst” also moved to Skelmorlie. Frank Gollings’ indeed somewhat cruel rather than quaint.
friendship with film director Alexander Mackendrick had also
Enter Calvin B. Marshall (Paul Douglas) as the American undoubtedly one of The World’s most talented film directors,
airways tycoon who’s building a new house on a Hebridean he too being responsible for making “Whisky Galore !“ “The
island and needs some building supplies delivered fast so Man in The White Suit” and “The Ladykillers” in the Ealing
that the job can be finished in time for his anniversary. Enter Studios.
Captain MacTaggart (played by former Kirkintilloch school-
master Alex Mackenzie) and the crew of the “Maggie”, her Mackendrick, an American-Scot, was born in September
part played by John Hay & Sons’ puffers “Boer” and “Inca”, 1912 and was the son of Scottish parents who had eloped to
both broken up in 1965. Boston. At the age of six, his father had died of flu and he
was brought home by his grand-parents and raised in
Enter a low tide in Glasgow and a case of mistaken identity Glasgow, where he went on to attend Glasgow’s School of
and then, even before the chase begins, the headlines - Art. He made short advertising films for Ovaltine and then
‘Puffer on Subway’ ! Though in the film, the ‘puffer’ was in had joined The Ministry of Information where he made a short
fact a beautifully detailed full-size mock- up, the incident film on ‘V.D.’ which earned him promotion to the
was based on real fact for Warnock’s puffer “Faithful” had Psychological Warfare Branch and then, at the end of WWII,
indeed once grounded at low tide on top of the Glasgow he oversaw the re-launching of the Italian film industry before
subway tunnel, near the historic 1853-built South Portland returning to London and then Ealing Studios. Shortly after
Suspension Bridge, the bridge, with its 144 iron tendons, making “The Ladykillers”, Mackendrick went to America
designed by one Alexander Kirkland and built by one George where he directed the film noir classic “Sweet Smell of
Martin to replace the wooden structure which had spanned Success” with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis and then, after
the river since 1833. directing several films unsuited to his talents, he retreated to
teach his film skills to other rising stars in California where he
When the chase begins, it is by air and a de Havilland died, aged 81, in 1993.
Rapide bi-plane and to Kintyre. Then up ‘the West Road’ of
Kintyre to the Crinan Canal where poor Mr Pussey (Hubert “Talisman”
Gregg), Marshall’s ‘side-kick’, gets arrested for poaching
and pushing the local Laird into the canal ! And then of Despite the view of many, the “Talisman” was actually
course there is the ceilidh, the 100th birthday party for the quite a good sea-boat and only one of her skippers, known
old, now toothless mate of the “Maggie”. Outside the to steamer enthusiasts and crews alike as “Captain Pugwash”
party, Mr Marshall - his name from the well-know Greenock ever seemed to have problems with her, that skipper
puffer owners, Ross & Marshall - he gains something of an regularly dropping her anchor, as a ‘kedge anchor’, when
insight into decision making when in conversation with a girl berthing alongside the solid front concrete wall of Largs Pier
who is being wooed by the local shop-keeper and a in even moderate swells.
fisherman, ‘I’ll marry the fisherman because, even if we’re
poor, we’ll be together and he won’t be away with his mind The “Talisman” too, though it is not on record, did in fact
away on other things like the shop-keeper building up his relieve the turbine steamer “Duchess of Montrose” on the
business(es)’ ! long run to Inveraray and, as I witnessed, the “Talisman”,
despite her low power, returned to Wemyss Bay, on her
It is little surprising that this film has stood the test of time homeward run, exactly on time ! Her chief engineer on that
for it was made by Alexander Mackendrick who was unique occasion would later be the last chief engineer of the
“Duchess of Montrose” and it was due to his persuasions
that she too was able to race and beat her younger ‘sister’, Arriving at Gourock some twenty minutes later, one walked
the “Duchess of Hamilton”, on the Rothesay to Largs run along the length of Gourock Pier, down to ‘the wires’, at the
at the end of her career in 1964. east end of the pier, near the present-day CalMac offices,
where the “Duchess of Montrose”, “Duchess of
The “Talisman”, the first ever diesel-electric paddler, Hamilton” and, up-river from Ayr for the weekend, the
witnessed the trials of all five of The Admiralty’s ‘Director’ paddle steamer “Caledonia” were moored overnight and
Class diesel-electric paddle tugs, their paddle-wheels, unlike would already be raising steam for the busy morning ahead.
a passenger steamer’s, able to operate independently, were Also there would be one of the four “Maid” Class motor
built on the Clyde between 1957 and 1959 and were the only vessels, the “Maid of Ashton” herself always being
paddle tugs ever in service with any navy. “Talisman” berthed overnight at Kilmun for The Holy Loch service.
herself was broken up in 1967 and, while her unique, slow Gourock to Dunoon
revving, ‘English Electric’ motor was scrapped, her diesel
engines got another lease of life at Singer’s Sewing Machine At 6.45 a.m. our real day began on board the car ferry
factory in Clydebank. “Arran”, on rare occasion relieved by “Cowal”, for the first
run to Dunoon. It was of course time for breakfast and
The Saturday Marathon everything was hot and fresh. Freshly baked morning rolls
with fluffy scrambled eggs and scalding hot coffee cooled
On summer Saturdays, my music lesson in Largs over and with ‘Carnation’ milk ! The company had its own bakery at
having returned to Wemyss Bay on the “Talisman”, I joined Gourock and, in the winter-time, with no excursion sailings
my parents for the weekly ‘pilgrimage’ to Ailsa Craig on the on the go, the bakery specialised in turning out and icing
“Duchess of Montrose”, returning in the evening to Largs numerous wedding cakes for local brides.
where we changed on to the “Talisman” for the return to
Wemyss Bay. In later, teenage, years, I occasionally turned The first, 7.25 a.m., return run from Dunoon became quite a
this outing into a long day trip taking the first and last source of entertainment after the American submarine base
Wemyss Bay buses to make the best use of all the day’s was opened in The Holy Loch in 1961 and it was in no way
connections which allowed maximum scope for travelling on unusual to find a large number of ‘young ladies’ returning to
most, but certainly not all, of the Clyde steamers and motor Gourock after, as one Greenock court sheriff phrased it, the
ships, the scheme of those days may now be of interest to “rough and tumble of a Friday night in The Highlands” ! Such
those who aspire towards ‘integrated transport’ timetabling ! were the profits of the trade that one ‘young lady’ was able
to buy herself a brand new Ford Cortina just three weeks
Starters’ Orders after the arrival of the first American submarine.

The day would start boarding the first, 5.50 a.m., bus from Approaching Gourock and making a full sweep of the bay to
Wemyss Bay to Gourock. This was nominally a ‘worker’s bus’ return alongside Berth ‘A’, beside the river pilot station, we
- even Christmas Day was not a public holiday in Scotland would see our second ship of the day, the “Maid of
until 1958 ! Most usually the bus was one of Western S.M.T’s Ashton”, approaching from Kilcreggan.
single-deck AEC’s or Leyland half-cab’s and its terminus was
then at Glasgow’s St. Enoch railway station. Fun With Lady Friends
the “Lady of Lorn”, having run on Loch Etive from 1952 till
The “Lady Jane Ritchie”, a 1946-built single screw 45-foot 1955. The “Lady Jane Ritchie” was sold in 1992.
motor passenger launch owned by Ritchie Brothers who also
operated on the Gourock - Kilcreggan run, would too be “Hispaniola II” and ‘The Bun Run’ to Craigendoran
returning to Gourock around this time. She was distinctive in
that she had a a little yellow exhaust funnel and a short mast Our course was now direct to Craigendoran with bakery
just forward of a small wheelhouse, these perched on top of produce and meat for the “Jeanie Deans” and the
her engine casing. Built by the Ritchie brothers themselves, “Waverley”, the former due out at 10.10 a.m. and the
she was a good sea boat and she was used on summer latter at 12.40 p.m.. Leaving Craigendoran at 8.40 a.m., we
Sunday nights to bring the entertainers, playing at headed for Kilcreggan and Gourock and, staying on board
Rothesay’s Pavilion, back to Wemyss Bay to pick up their the “Maid of Ashton”, then proceed direct to Kilmun for 10
cars. a.m. and then to Blairmore and Kilcreggan and back again to
find a berth at Gourock.
On one of these occasions, a wild and stormy autumn night,
the entertainers had piled on board her, at the steps beside Laid up in 1971 ‘for reasons of economy’, the “Maid of
Rothesay’s inner harbour swing bridge and settled Ashton” left The Clyde in January 1973 to be converted into
themselves under the tarpaulin awning which covered her a floating bar-restaurant on The Thames where she was
forward half. Nearing Toward Lighthouse, one of the renamed “Hispaniola II” and moored near Hungerford
passengers had stuck his head out of the shelter to see Bridge, not far from where the former Clyde turbine steamer
where they were and noticed that the boat’s navigation lights “Queen Mary” is moored today. Bought by City Cruises,
weren’t switched on. He scrambled aft and opened the one of London’s best-known river-boat cruise operators, the
wheelhouse’s little half-door. “Fine mister”, replied a little “Maid of Ashton” took to open waters again in the autumn
squeaky voice and, peering into the gloom of the of 2002 when she was towed round to Great Yarmouth for an
wheelhouse, the passenger suddenly realised that the boat hull and insurance survey.
was being steered by a small boy, his baby brother, perched The “Jeanie Deans”, withdrawn at the end of the 1964
on a stool and tied with rope on to the side of the wheel- season, was sold at the end of 1965 to The Coastal Steam
house. “My faither got blitzed in the pub an’ I thought I’d Packet Company for further service from London to Herne
better come for you myself ! “ - the boy himself was then Bay and Clacton. She left Greenock on November 5 for the
just ten years old ! Thames, her chief engineer for the delivery trip having
walked off the ship that morning and Archie Blue found
I often used the “Lady Jane Ritchie” to visit some ‘non- himself being ‘hijacked’ in a Greenock street to take her
blood’ aunts and an uncle in Kilcreggan where too lived the south, the first night as far as Inverkip !
Roy family who crossed everyday to go to school with me at
Greenock Academy, their father was Burgh Chamberlain for Without an experienced engineer to look after her boiler
Cove and Kilcreggan Town Council, their office then being in problems, she, renamed “Queen of The South”, only
Greenock. completed eight days sailing in the 1966 season and the
boiler was very necessarily retubed during the following
Ritchie Brothers owned another two passenger launches, the winter, a bow rudder, alleviating the need for tugs at Tower
fully-open “Port Star” and the “Kempock Lad”, she, as Pier, also being fitted at the same time. Her 1967 sailing
season, from Saturday June 24 to Wednesday July 12, when “Jeanie Deans”.
she suffered more boiler problems and a damaged paddle-
wheel, was her last and, at the end of the year, she was “The Smallest Bar on The Clyde”
scrapped in Belgium.
As we now arrived at Gourock, Walter Roy Richie’s 61½-foot
“Maids” versus Car Ferries converted Admilraly M.F.V. “Granny Kempock”, with “the
smallest bar on The Clyde”, would be leaving on her first run
It being but a few years since the end of World War II when of the day to Helensburgh, a summer service that began
these ships were built, their designs were to some degree back in 1950. Walter Roy Richie, who died in 1978 and
dictated by Admiralty considerations, the “Maids”, with their whose bridge-playing widow survived to the age of 98, was a
low sterns, suitable for quick conversion to minesweepers distinctive and interesting character, thick pebbled wire-
and rescue ships and the car ferries, then fitted too with twin rimmed glasses and a little white West Highland terrier
cargo derricks, easily adapted for use as transport ships. always at his side. He had an intimate knowledge of The Tail
of Bank waters and during World War II had been involved in
Neither ship design was really passenger-friendly, not least operating Thames sailing barges around the anchorage. He
the steep and narrow-treaded passenger stairways with but also owned the ex-Admiralty Harbour Launch “Westering
thin handrails. The “Maids” were indeed very lively sea- Home” and, in 1965, having bought The Caledonian Steam
boats and on one occasion a Rothesay minister was reported Packet Company’s former Largs - Millport ferry “Ashton”, re-
on his knees praying for safe delivery to home or Heaven ! named “Gourockian”, then replaced her in at the
beginning of 1972 with their “Countess of Breadalbane”
The car ferries were indeed vastly superior sea-boats and, which he re-named “Countess of Kempock” to cover the
despite the unprotected openings from the car hoist into the Gourock - Blairmore - Kilmun route then abandoned by The
main deck level, as it was called, ‘garage’ there were never Caledonian Steam Packet Company.
any reports of flooding or damage. The lack of thought in
these matters is quite surprising in view of the fact that, just The “Countess”, built originally for the Loch Awe service
months before the hulls of these car ferries launched, the and ‘roaded’ to the Clyde in 1952, was again ‘roaded’ to
Stranraer - Larne car ferry “Princess Victoria” had come to Loch Lomond in 1982 and later, after some time languishing
grief, her stern loading door at fault, on January 31, 1953. on the Balloch slipway beside the “Maid of The Loch”, was
ignominiously demolished by a J.C.B. hydraulic builder’s
Mid-Saturday Morning at Gourock digger !

By now it was 10.20 a.m. and an hour earlier, at 9.20 a.m., Spoilt for Choice
the “Lochfyne”, which had lain overnight at Greenock’s
Custom’s House Quay, had sailed on the mail run, for Returning now to our arrival at Gourock, there was
Dunoon - Innellan - Rothesay - Tighnabruiach - Tarbert and something of a weekly dilemma for both “Caledonia” and
Ardrishaig. The “Duchess of Hamilton”, sailing for the “Duchess of Montrose” were on ‘relief rosters’ and
Campbeltown within minutes of the “Lochfyne” leaving neither of these operated to anything but a very loose set of
Gourock, would by now be in Rothesay and their berths at timings for their almost parallel runs to Rothesay and, to
Gourock were now occupied by “Caledonia” and the open up even further opportunities of ‘jumping ship’ was the
fact that the “Jeanie Deans” too was doing the regular In the days of steam-power, three 12-coach trains left
10.40 a.m. Gourock - Dunoon - Innellan - Rothesay run and, Glasgow’s Central Station at 10.20, 10.30 and 10.40 a.m.
especially on a busy Greenock or Glasgow Fair Saturday, it but, once the electric ‘Blue’ trains came into service, these
was possible that all three ships and not just the “Duchess were respectively made up of twelve, nine and six coaches.
of Montrose” would call at Wemyss Bay en route to Wemyss Bay’s station car park and nearby Pearson’s
Rothesay. Garage’s car park held a further thirty 33-41 seat coaches
and around 150 cars.
The actual final choice of ship was not of any great
consequence as the simple aim was to get down to Rothesay, At Wemyss Bay pier, the sequence of steamer arrivals and
preferably via Wemyss Bay and then return on either the departures began at 11.10 a.m. with the arrival of a ‘Maid’
“Jeanie Deans” or the “Duchess of Montrose” to Class vessel (630 passengers) from Rothesay and the arrival
Gourock for around 1.30 p.m.. of the “Talisman” (1,259 passengers) from Largs and
Millport, both vessels berthing on the south side of the pier
The “Duchess of Montrose” would leave Gourock at 10.40 and the ‘Maid’ tucking herself into the outer ‘cut-out’ berth to
a.m. for Dunoon, Wemyss Bay and Rothesay where she would allow the “Caledonia” (1,766 passengers) to ‘cant’ herself,
leave about 12.30 p.m. to sail direct to Gourock for 1.30 p.m. stern first, into the ‘cut-out’ berth on the north side and too
with two booked Wallace Arnold coach parties and the to allow the “Duchess of Montrose” (1,937 passengers) to
“Jeanie Deans” would also leave Gourock at 10.40 a.m. for come across the end of the pier whilst the ‘Maid’ and the
Dunoon, Innellan and Rothesay but, especially on Greenock “Caledonia” loaded their passengers.
and Glasgow Fair Saturdays could be diverted to Wemyss Bay
after her Innellan call. Regardless, she would leave Rothesay The Rothesay car ferry, “Bute” (650 passengers), then
on her ‘up run’ to Craigendoran, via Innellan and Dunoon arrived at her berth on the north side of the pier at 11.15
and call at Gourock just minutes after the arrival of the a.m. and in her wake would be her sister-ship, the “Cowal”
“Duchess of Montrose”. (650 passengers) which would lie off until the “Bute” sailed,
usually on such occasions before her 12 noon advertised
The “Caledonia”, leaving Gourock at 10.35 a.m., sailing time.
essentially preceded the “Duchess of Montrose” to
Rothesay and, depending on the volume of traffic, might The “Jeanie Deans” (1,480 passengers), if called from
even sail direct to Wemyss Bay from Gourock, her sailing Innellan, would follow the “Duchess of Montrose” and
orders often changed at the last minute. berth across the front of the pier after allowing the
“Caledonia” to slip out for Rothesay and letting the ‘Maid’
Such then was the popularity of holidays in Rothesay that, away to run direct to Millport, ahead of the “Talisman”.
particularly on Fair Saturdays, upwards of eight, yes, eight This too freed up the south side of the pier at 11.50 a.m. to
thousand passengers might pass through Wemyss Bay’s let in the “Cowal” if the “Bute” had not by then finished
station and pier complex in the short period between 11.10 loading for Rothesay.
a.m. and 12 noon !
Pier Signals
Wemyss Bay Arrivals and Departures
Despite there being pier signals at Wemyss Bay, five railway-
type signals, one for each berth, arranged on a latticed- harbour, beside the Albert Pier, keeping a small fleet of
steel mast at the end of the pier, these were rarely used rowing dinghies one of which, with a cut-out on its transom
even on the busiest of occasions stern, I learned, thanks to old Mr McQueen’s help, to scull
and steer with a single oar . In the 1950’s and 1960’s, much
Other Clyde piers employed a berth signalling system which of the prosperity of Rothesay’s boat-hirers was due to the
was devised around 1887 by the son of an earlier Skelmorlie presence of the submarine depot ships, first the
resident, one Charles Allan, third son of the founder of The “Montclare”, then the “Adamant”.
Allan Line - the family staying at Ashcraig, just to the south
of Skelmorlie Castle. McIver’s 1938-built “Gay Queen” with red hull and cream-
painted rectangular imitation ‘gun ports’, operating from
Allan’s signals were housed in a white painted triangular box Rothesay’s Pavilion slipway from 1938 till the end of the 1988
sited so that the two outward-facing sides could be seen by season when she was sold to a Poole operator and John
approaching steamers. Each exposed side contained three Knox’s near identical 56-foot 1937 Fraserburgh-built “Maid
circular discs, for ‘inshore’, ‘middle’ and ‘offshore’ steamers of Bute”, until 1973, operating from Rothesay’s inner
approaching from that particular direction. Black-painted harbour, both carried out a variety of local cruises to The
sliding boards, with red-lit glass centres, were raised as Kyles of Bute and elsewhere. These were the days when
necessary to expose a white-painted circle with a white-lit hand-written ‘chalk boards’ promoted the day’s excursions
glass centre to the selected approaching steamer and thus and I have clear visions of young John Knox, whose father
call her in to the pier in preference against any others then owned Rothesay’s Grand Marine Hotel, where the young
approaching from the same or opposite directions - local Lena Zavaroni’s family provided entertainment for
Kilcreggan Pier continues to maintain a fully working set of residents, carefully chalking up his cruise boards and then
Allan’s pier signals. ‘scooting off’ home on his brand new Vespa scooter for
breakfast before the first day’s cruise at about 1025 a.m..
Rothesay’s Berths and Boat Operators
Of the “Maid of Bute”, it is perhaps of interest to note that
With Wemyss Bay astern, the steamers headed for their she was essentially a single-screw launch, the main shaft
respective berths at Rothesay, the Craigendoran steamer for being through the stern centre-post, but, she too had a
Berth 1, at the western end of the pier, Berth 1a only being secondary ‘wing’ engine and propellor shaft, like some of the
used by the ex-Loch Awe “Countess of Breadalbane”; the older auxiliary-engined fishing boats, which was bored out
car ferries using Berth 2, in the middle of the pier and the through her hull and allowing her to operate albeit as a ‘twin-
turbines using Berth 3 at the eastern, Albert Harbour screw’ ship.
entrance, end of the pier where, on occasion, they could
‘cant’ stern-in and lie inside the inner harbour entrance. As a consequence of my interest in the “Maid of Bute”, I
took the bus out to Port Bannatyne to look at her on Peter
In these days, Rothesay was home to a number of small boat McIntyre’s slipway while she was being overhauled. With
operators, Dewar’s, Turner’s and Taylor’s offering rowing time to spare before returning to Rothesay, I wandered up
dinghies and self-drive motor- boats - some with car-type through the boatsheds and discovered the 32-foot long
steering wheels and reversing engines - from the esplanade lugger “Lady Guildford”, built, sometime between 1817 -
area, to the west of the pier and McQueen’s, in the inner 1819 in Tighnabruiach, for the 2nd Marquis of Bute to bring
his bride Maria, daughter of the Earl of Guildford, home to two Wallace Arnold coach parties and a handful of other
Mount Stuart House. The lugger, albeit it latterly fitted with passengers and knowing steamer enthusiasts.
an engine and used as a private ferry for the Bute family,
continued in used until as late as 1939 and is still languishing The usual daily provision of lunches at set times - 11 a.m.,
in the boatyard sheds to this day. 11.40 a.m., 12.20 p.m., 1 p.m. and, on occasion, at 1.40
p.m. was not adhered to on the Saturday ‘up run’ to Gourock
Rothesay Pier Fire and lunch was served as soon as the ship left Rothesay.

On a Saturday afternoon in 1962, though the date is not to The ‘table d’hôte’ menus of the Clyde Steamers were
my hand, I found the “Duchess of Hamilton” coming in to designed to cater for upwards of 100 passengers per 40-
Wemyss Bay Pier to do the 4.30 p.m. sailing to Innellan and minute sitting and generally led to few complaints. A choice
Rothesay, a run usually covered by one of the Maid-class of fruit juice or soup, thick or clear, served not infrequently
motor-ships. A quick sprint three-minute downhill from our from silver soup tureens.
house to the pier and away I went on a virtually passenger-
free cruise to Rothesay which we left again at 5.30 p.m. for These were the days of proper ‘silver service’ - the
the run back to Wemyss Bay. admonition to novice table-waiting staff being to “lift, not
slide” the selected food from silver to plate. One of the most
As we approached Wemyss Bay we could see one of the useful books on the subject came from the Gravesend
piermen jumping up and down and pointing wildly towards College, “The Ship Steward’s Training Manual”, a booklet
Rothesay where a huge plume of black smoke was rising which, unlike any guides published for hotel and catering
behind Craigmore Point - Rothesay Pier Buildings and the staff generally, even demonstrated picture-by-picture how to
old clock tower were on fire and we’d been there and seen ‘silver service’ breakfast - boiled eggs, poached eggs, fried
nothing ! Even in 1962, though the Clyde steamers had and scrambled eggs, the whole ‘caboodle’ from silver-to-
radar, there were no radios switched on and news travelled plate !
most often from pier-to-pier, by old-fashioned telephone.
If it takes little time to learn how to do ‘silver service’ - the
Some years earlier, there was a serious fire at Rothesay’s first lesson being to learn to pick up a potato and then an
secondary school, the young culprits were apprehended and uncooked egg with a spoon and fork, then it is indeed a feat
taken to court and fined 7/6d (37½p) each, payable in for anybody to carry ten plates full of soup on a steamer
instalments out of their pocket-money ! cork-screwing her way down Kilbrannan Sound towards
Campbeltown and, by way of some miracle, laying them
cleanly on a dining saloon table without any traces of soup
Rothesay to Gourock and Lunch marking the near virginal white tablecloths ! I saw it happen
Now came the time for the stomach to decide whether to on several occasions and am still mystified how to balance so
take the “Jeannie Deans”, “Caledonia” or “Duchess of many plates, empty or full, on ones arms.
Montrose” from Rothesay back to Gourock - sausage rolls Next steak pie or mince pie or beef stew or mince - the pies’
and pies in the cafeteria of the “Jeannie Deans” or pastry being added according to choice and an
“Caledonia” or, a civilised lunch for 3/6d (17½p) on board accompanying choice of potatoes and vegetables always
the “Duchess of Montrose” where there would be but the being served from huge silver dishes ! Along with the
standard alternatives of gammon and cold meat salads, Her bar was fitted with a stable-type door on the port side
there was always fresh salmon salad, the salmon being and was decorated to resemble an old Highland drovers’ inn,
supplied daily, six to ten salmon for each ship being targes, claymores and broadswords fixed to the walls.
delivered daily on their various arrivals at Rothesay by
Ritchie’s, the Rothesay fishmongers, who also supplied the With the exception of Sundays, the steamer bars were open
other staple high tea mountain of haddock. all day long and allowed to serve alcohol as long as there
were no ropes attached to piers ! On Sundays, even now
By Innellan we were finishing off dessert - Donald’s ice under the current 1976 Scottish Licensing Act, the law came
cream from Gourock with fruit or jelly - and custard; apple into play and alcohol could only be sold, again if no ropes
tart and custard or, a special favourite, Swiss apple tart - were attached to piers, during ‘hotel licensing hours’ i.e.
apple tart topped with meringue and coloured sugars - and between 12.30 and 2.30 p.m. and between 6.30 and 11 p.m.
ice cream and/or custard ! (10 p.m. before the 1976 Licensing Act came into effect).

While the timings for lunch sittings made it impossible to sit Until the ‘new’ 1976 Act, hotels and indeed ships could serve
on in the dining saloon for coffee, this normally purchased alcohol throughout the whole 24-hour period midnight
and served separately in the cafeteria afterwards, Saturday Saturday to midnight Sunday, including the periods outside
Rothesay - Gourock runs were different and coffee would be the statutorily prescribed ‘hotel licensing hours’ provided
served in the dining saloon - and at no extra charge - from that consumers could prove they were “bona fide travellers”
big silver coffee pots which often dated from the 1860’s and and, while different local Scottish licensing courts variously
1870’s, many being engraved with the crests of the old and interpreted distances that had to be ‘travelled’, the steamers
many railweay and steamer companies which had long were left much to their own and made up their own rules
amalgamated or long disappeared from ken. such as was the understanding on the Sunday turbine return
sailing from Campbeltown to Brodick and Fairlie.
In hindsight, considering the limited equipment and galley
spaces, the ability to cater for often enormous numbers of On Sundays, the “Duchess of Hamilton” left
people was a feat little appreciated by the first hungry and Campbeltown at 3.15 p.m. and, via Pladda and the south of
then, later, well satisfied passengers. Arran, making Brodick for 5.40 p.m. and then sailing direct to
reach Fairlie at 6.40 p.m., theoretically the ship’s bar not
From the earliest days, the bars on the Clyde and other day being allowed to open till 6.30 p.m.. In practice the ship’s
excursion steamers were located on the lower deck, next to bar opened as soon as the last rope was thrown off Brodick
the engine room and hence the expression “I’m away to see Pier and a full hour’s sales made possible before reaching
the engines ! “ Fairlie.

Not Saturday But Sunday Licensing Laws Though MacBrayne’s ships never sailed on Sundays, an
opportunity was taken to charter their turbine steamer “King
On MacBrayne’s three-funnelled “Saint Columba”, she the George V” for a ‘Sunday-breaker’ trip, ‘south about’ from
only turbine to have inwardly sloping boiler casings on the Oban to Iona and and, shortly after leaving Oban at 9.30
main deck, the ship’s bar was on the shelter deck, where a.m. on the Sunday morning, the company’s Catering
the other steamers had been fitted with gift and sweet shops. Superintendent Dick Whittington, an Ulsterman by birth,
appeared on the ship’s after deck looking for some help with one knife was provided, it serving to cut through fried eggs,
his dilemma about opening the ship’s bar as the ship would butter and, if one was really reckless, jam !
not arrive at Iona till 1 p.m. and the afternoon return, leaving
Iona at 4 p.m., would return to Oban at 7 p.m., both arrival The ‘Rum’ and ‘The Dugs’
timings being half an hour after the law allowed alcohol to
be sold ! A later charter of the “King George V” was supposed to
take us “Round Rum”, note the spelling ! In these days the
Given the precedent set by the “Duchess of Hamilton” on map-spelling of the island’s name was ‘R-h-u-m’ but Gaelic
the Sunday sailings from Campbeltown, the bar on the speakers and locals favoured the spelling on our steamer
“King George V” was open from 10 a.m. till our arrival at tickets - ‘Rum’. The day was grey and a good swell was
Iona and again opened at 4 p.m., as soon as we sailed on running outside the shelter of the Sound of Mull so it was
the return run. decided that the ship would run out past Ardnamurchan Point
and then, instead of carrying on out to the island, would turn
and run up, what we were to discover was a very mirror-
Iona ‘Sunday Breaker’ calm, Loch Sunart.
Abreast of Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, John M’Callum, the
That Sunday, only the island-based ferrymen appeared as mate, switched on the ship’s tannoy system and announced
we arrived and, going ashore on the first ferryboat run, we “The company would not like to disappoint ticket-holders
were nearly at the abbey itself before we saw or met anyone. and, noting the spelling of the island on your tickets, I will
drop a bottle of the said name from the starboard, right-
A holidaying student appeared out of the abbey buildings hand-facing-the-bow, side of the bridge as we turn to back to
and, asked if there was any chance of finding a coffee, he Loch Sunart ! “ Plop ! The (certainly empty) bottle
put his hand in his pocket and thrust a pile of old, octagonal overboard !
‘three-penny’ coins into our hands, “There’s a old
‘Ditchburn’ vending machine over there in the refectory but John M’Callum, from Tiree, had a ‘dry’ sense of humour !
it only takes these ! The cash drawer in it isn’t locked and One day a woman asked him if she could take her dog with
we just recycle them ! “ We saw no other ‘locals’ out that her. “What colour is it ? “ he asked in all seriousness. “It’s
afternoon and indeed it was only as the last ferry run left to brown,” she answered. “That’ll be just fine for all the black
come out to the “King George V” that a few faces peered ones were here yesterday ! “
out of the house windows to watch us leave.
Gourock and ‘The Crossing Rule’
On the run back to Oban, we had ‘high tea’ in the dining
saloon and, in sharp contrast to the offerings of the Clyde Having much digressed, it is now back to Gourock and our
menus, we had proper home-made chips with our fish - the Saturday afternoon cruise on the “Duchess of Montrose”
Clyde ships only and occasionally offering instant potato at leavng at 2 p.m. in the company of the “Maid of Ashton”,
that time of the day ! on the Kilcreggan - Holy Loch service, a car ferry also
heading with us for Dunoon, Ritchie Brothers’ “Lady Jane
One other feature of MacBrayne’s ‘high teas’ was that though Ritchie” heading out for Kilcreggan and Roy Ritchie’s
everyone had two forks, one for fish and one for meat, only “Granny Kempock” on the Helensbugh run, everybody on
immediately crossing courses. company’s chairman. “That being the case,” came the
reply, “a company directorship would of course be immediate
The ‘crossing rule’, Rule 15 of The International Regulations ! “ Thus secured, the enterprising young man immediately
for Preventing Collisions at Sea, holds that ‘when two power- asked the said young lady’s father for his permission to see
driven vessels are crossing and in risk of a collision, the one his daughter. “I am about to become a director,“ began the
with the other on her starboard (right-hand) side must keep young man . . . !
clear and, if possible, avoid passing ahead of the other -
The ‘give-way’ vessel should normally alter course to Steamer Bands
starboard (to the right); exceptionally, an alteration of
course to port (to the left) may be justified, in which case a Now reaching Dunoon ahead of the car-ferry, we, like every
large alteration of course may be needed to avoid (the ‘give- other cruise ship, would be welcomed with a scratchy
way’ ship) crossing ahead of the other,’ in the immortal gramophone rendition of Kenneth McKellar’s “Song of The
word’s of the long-running BBC Radio’s ‘Navy Lark’ - “Right Clyde” - Rothesay Pier favoured a constant bombardment of
hand down-a-bit ! “ Anyone in any doubt about ‘the crossing “Sweet Rothesay Bay”, much less scratchy recordings as it
rule’ should observe the constant conflict of CalMac and was featured by many different Scottish Country Dance
Western Ferries’ on the Gourock - Dunoon and McInroy’s Point Bands and therefore Rothesay had many ‘back-up’ records.
to Hunter’s Quay car-ferry services.
Digressing a bit more, it is appropriate to mention the
Clyde Pilots steamers’ own bands which had entertained passengers
since pre-World War I times, these ‘German Bands’ then
Ever-watchful of the departing steamers were the crews of popularly believed to be a cover for Kaiser Bill’s spies and
the two Clyde Pilot Boats, the yellow-funnelled motor yacht- espionage agents.
like “Cumbrae”, which sailed down to her namesakes and
the Garroch Head to meet the large tankers and summer In the 1950’s, the “Duchess of Hamilton” had a five-piece
crossing Atlantic liners of Cunard and Canadian Pacific and, band - two accordions (always beautifully played in duet),
alongside her, the smaller “Gantock”, which usually saxophone, trumpet and drums, the other steamers had
operated out no further than the Cloch Lighthouse. only three-piece bands, that on the “Duchess of
Hamilton” featuring the Coia brothers from Glasgow on
Before 1938, when the diesel-engined “Cumbrae” was violin and double-bass. The then Glasgow-based “Queen
built, the pilots were served by the steam-engined Mary II” had a piano and, for a time, the old “Jupiter”
“Nathaniel G. Dunlop” she being named after a very had a concertina-player, he later transferring with the band
enterprising young man who had found employment as a to the “Caledonia” and his appearance always reminding
very junior clerk in a Glasgow shipping office. After just a few me of a cross between comedian Arthur Askey and band
months and acutely conscious of the fact that his prospects leader Billy Cotton !
of promotion were slim by any standards, he summoned up
courage to speak to the company chairman one morning as At Inveraray in the 1950’s, just round the corner from The
he arrived at the office. “What would be my prospects with Argyll Hotel, now The Great Inn, we used to visit ‘The
the company be if I were to become engaged ? “ and he Cumbrae Model Railway’. Going back aboard the “Duchess
went on to name the daughter of another Glasgow shipping of Montrose”, one of the steamer band’s accordionists
opened his instrument case and produced a series of thin site for Skelmorlie Hydropathic Hotel and southwards to
card-mounted ‘flick books’ to amuse the young children. One Skelmorlie Castle, this later to be regarded as the most
of the books, drawn back in the 1930’s, showed a stream of important ‘measured mile’ in Britain - a nautical mile,
spoked-wheel Model T Ford cars running across one of the originally defined as being 6,080 imperial feet, has been
first ever pedestrian crossings, it lit by flashing ‘belisha redefined and accepted internationally as 1,852 metres,
beacons’. about 10 feet less.

Trying to cross the road was the figure of a little ‘stick’ man Having sought out the agreement of The Earl of Eglinton,
who, despite being knocked down, was able to revive who owned the land, John, son of Robert Napier, erected
himself and stagger across the ‘new-fangled’ crossing only to the necessary unlit beacons at Skelmorlie and, on July 4,
be knocked down again as he re-tried to cross the road from 1866, George Henry Richards, at The Hydrographic Office of
the safety of the other side. A very clever series of drawings The Admiralty in London, sent out “Notice to Mariners No 36,
which worked regardless of which way the book’s pictures Scotland West Coast, Measured Mile in The Firth of Clyde”
were flicked. to the effect that “Notice is hereby given that beacons to
indicate the length of a nautical mile (6,080 feet) have been
Skelmorlie Measured Mile erected on the eastern shore of The Firth of Clyde.

Again to our Saturday cruise, the “Duchess of Montrose” Each beacon consists of a single pole, 45-feet high, with
now heading from Dunoon direct to Largs and, passing arms 10-feet long forming a broad
Wemyss Bay Pier, numerous individuals would be seen ( V and ‘inverted’ V ) angle 15-feet from the base, the whole
checking their watches as we ran down the Skelmorlie being painted white. The two northern beacons are erected
Measured Mile at speed, 3 minutes and 45 seconds to do the near Skelmorlie Pier, the outer one being close to the high
run at just over 16-knots and into Largs as the big hands of water shore on the south side and, from it, the inner one (in
St Columba’s Church clock, beside Nardini’s Café neared 3 the recess of the cliff) is 83 yards distant bearing S.E. by
p.m.. E¾E. The two southern beacons stand on level ground near
Skelmorlie Castle, the inner one being 100 yards from the
Though The Admiralty only started to document steam-ship outer one in a S.E. by E¾ direction.The courses parallel with
trials around 1840, Clyde shipbuilders had for long been the measured mile, at right angles to the line of transit of
‘running the lights’, steaming at full speed the 13.666 the beacons, are NNE¼E and SSW¼W. The shore may be
nautical mile course between The Cloch and Cumbrae Head approached to the distance of a third of a mile.”
lighthouses, the run takes 60 minutes 17 seconds at 13.6
knots and 41 minutes at 20 knots. The problem was one of Once the ‘V’ and the ‘inverted’ ‘V’ cross-arms were aligned,
distance. By the time the ship had turned round to do a they became an “X” and stop-watches started, or,
second, return, run, the tidal conditions, the wind and the conversely stopped, to determine the exact time taken to
weather could all have changed making any conclusions run the distance between the beacons and the results read
dubious. off from a ‘standard’ agreed ‘time and distance’ table
published in almanacs.
The answer lay in finding a shorter testing distance, that
between the old steamer pier at Skelmorlie, just below the
Ideally, to bring the ships to a ‘steady state of motion’, saloon superstructure all removed, four Rolls Royce
ensuring that there were no avoidable changes in steering or ‘Derwent’ jet engines were fitted athwartships behind her
acceleration forces on the propellor(s), these distorting bridge deck and in 1950, with ear-piercing ‘banshee’
accurate speed calculations, ships would always run a screeches she returned to her old home haunts up and down
straight and steady course for up to four miles before going The Gareloch ‘mile’ providing the BSRA with valuable new
through the beacon transits. At the end of each run, the data on the resistance of a ship’s underwater skin to motion
ship was turned round and run back over the course at the through the water.
same engine power and revolutions so as to ‘neutralise’ any
effects of tide and wind and an average speed result then 1888 may have been an unfortunate year for the poor
calculated for the two runs. It would be customary to make “Princess of Wales” sunk off Skelmorlie - ‘1888’ is in fact
at least two return trips over the course to get an agreed something of an unfortunate number for it needs 13 Roman
‘average’ and different methods of calculating ‘averages’ ‘letter numerals’ MDCCCLXXXVIII - but nobody then could
could find results varying by about ½ of 1%. have ever anticipated that the 1888-built “Lucy Ashton”
would, like Sir Walter Scott’s own novels, would achieve
The importance of Skelmorlie’s sheltered deep-water worldwide fame, as a ‘jet-ship’. Her steam whistle, bought
measured mile became increasingly clear in the early 1900’s by a Glasgow company, still calls people to work at a factory
after The Admiralty began to scrutinise the performance of in Santiago in Chile.
the 32-knot destroyer H.M.S. “Cossack” which had been
on trial first off The Maplin Sands, in The Thames and then Largs’ Boats
been sent to the Skelmorlie measured mile. At 32-knots in
the shallow, but 45-foot deep, waters of The Thames, she Largs, like Rothesay, was home to shoals of ‘self-drive’
had only needed 86,000 shaft horse power to reach the motor boats and the approach to the pier, particularly on a
required contract speed but, for the 240-foot deep waters, Saturday afternoon, was more often than not obstructed by
off Skelmorlie, it took 105,000 shaft horse power to push her at least one small boat whose helmsman would be
up to the same speed. completely oblivious to the steamer despite her constant
siren warnings !
In order to give the new 1934-built Cunarder “Queen Mary”
proper turning room to let her regain ‘a steady state of The Largs boat hirers, then the Harts, Halliday’s and Dick’s,
motion’ at each end of her course, a new ‘double mile’ was also operated half a dozen 35-foot long open passenger
constructed at the north-eastern corner on the island of launches “Bluebell” and “White Heather” and those
Arran. named in pairs with the prefixes “Golden . . . “ or “Silver
. . . “. There was also Anderson's “Amethyst”, with a short
There was a third ‘half mile’ measured out on The Gareloch mast and a little blue painted funnel on top of her engine
and The British Shipbuilding Research Association (BSRA), casing and, for a while, a 12-seat Chris Craft-type
anxious to carry out resistance tests on a full-scale ship hull speedboat.
without the water being disturbed by propellors, paddles or Largs Pier too was home to a little 30+ foot, schooner-
tugs, bought the old 1888-built Craigendoran paddle rigged, motor yacht with a nicely proportioned yellow funnel,
steamer “Lucy Ashton” in 1949. Stripped down to her just like an old 1920’s steam yacht and, on the southern face
main deck level, her boiler, engine, paddle-wheels and of the pier, where steps were eventually built, would be the
“Ashton” or the “Leven”, often on Saturdays assisted by steamer journey please come to the purser’s office on the
the “Countess of Breadalbane” on the Largs - Millport shelter deck. Tickets, priced 3 shillings (15 pence) are
service. available for sittings of High Tea at 3.30, 4.10, 4.50, 5.30,
6.10 and 6.50 p.m.. Those not in possession of tickets,
Keppel for Millport costing 1/6d (7½ pence) for the basket chairs in the forward
shelter deck lounge should contact the steward. Tickets for
Leaving Largs at 3 p.m., the “Duchess of Montrose” deck chairs, costing 9d (about 4 pence), are also available
headed for Keppel Pier (for Millport) where she would drop off now from the purser’s office.”
some twenty to thirty passengers and then, at 3.20 p.m. left
for the two-hour run past the Wee Cumbrae, where the The deck chairs were always a source of curiosity for their
island’s owner kept the former Portpatrick R.N.L.I. lifeboat backs were stencilled with the initials of the steamers to
“Jennie Spears”, she having been involved in the rescue of which they had originally been allocated - KE “King
survivors from the January 31, 1953 “Princess Victoria” Edward”, A “Duchess of Argyll”, DM “Duchess of
disaster, and on down mid-channel to Ailsa Craig. Montrose” and so on.

With a two hour run of peace and quiet to Ailsa Craig, Similarly, all the steamer journey and meal tickets carried
passengers settled down for a sleep or gathered in groups to like ‘letter codes’ to trace their origins and, thanks to the
ponder the course of life’s events. railway companies old established systems, there were quite
literally hundreds of different tickets all stacked up in
Tickets Please ! closeable racks round the purser’s office. The majority of
tickets, most printed by The Glasgow Numerical Printing
As a consequence of the railway companies interests in the Company, were numbered simply from ‘0000’ to ‘9999’ and
Clyde steamers and their development of linking routes and all the tickets collected at the steamer gangways (and the
services, it became ‘sensible’ to extend railway ticket railway stations) had to be ‘cancelled’ with a hand-operated
systems to include steamer destinations. punch which cut a ‘C’ into the tickets and the tickets then
arranged in numerical order with little pieces of paper added
Early railway tickets were laboriously hand stamped and in where there were gaps in the sequences.
then, in 1837, one Thomas Edmondson (1792-1851), a
clerk on The Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, invented a The bundles of ‘cancelled’ tickets were then neatly tied up,
machine for printing consecutively-numbered and standard- wrapped into a bigger parcel and sent back to the steamer
sized card tickets which could be automatically date-stamped company offices in Gourock each day and, along with the
in a machine-press. He patented his machines and then revenue records from each ship’s purser, the Gourock office
persuaded the railway companies, first The Manchester & staff then were supposed to ‘apportion’ the various amounts
Leeds, to lease his ticket dating machines at 10/- (50p) per due to the railways and the steamers etc.. The whole
route mile per year - and there were literally tens of practice was a shambles as was the ‘dead reckoning’ of the
thousands of ‘route-miles’ ! numbers of passengers on board the ships at any one time !
Leaving Keppel Pier, the ship’s tannoy system would burst
into life with the sound of the purser’s voice “Would If the passenger head-count seemed simple - start with ‘nil’
passengers who have not yet purchased tickets for the and end up with ‘nil’ - then it must be said that the
gangwaymen and many of the assistant pursers ideas were its shoulder and square the result; measure its back from the
often at odds, some counting children as individuals and fore-part of its shoulder-blade to the bone at its tail and
others reckoning two children to equal just one adult, thank multiply this length by 5.
goodness that at least the big turbines and paddlers carried
well over the required number of adult lifejackets for their These results, measured in feet, are multiplied together and
certificated complements ! that result is divided by 21 to give the beast’s weight in
stones, 14 lb units - this is the total weight of the four
quarters of the beast which will be slightly less than half the
More Tickets ? total weight of the live animal. For very fat cattle, add 5%
and, conversely, subtract 5% of the weight if very lean.
Thanks to these same old-experienced West Highland crofter- About 5-6% of the beast’s total live weight is in the hide and
fishermen, many young and naive assistant pursers soon some 8-9% in the tallow.
learned to cut their workload by accidentally ‘losing’ whole
pocketfuls of tickets over the side “in the wind” ! Farmers also used tapes to measure the weight of haystacks.
Multiply the length of the stack by its width; measure the
In truth, many of the ‘railway-type’ steamer tickets were of height of the stack to the eaves and then measure one-third
three and four portions and only the outer ends numbered of the height between the eaves and the top of the stack.
and it was a nonsense to put blank slips in the bundles where Multiply these results together and divide the answer by 27.
there gaps between ticket numbers. If the hay is less than 3 months old then multiply again by 6;
if older than 3 months, by 7 and, for the oldest hay, by 8.
Too it was a nonsense and a complete waste of time to tie up The result gives the corresponding weight per cubic yard, in
dozens of neat little ticket bundles and send them in to stones.
Gourock only to have the office staff there snip the bundles
roughly open with scissors and the bundles scatter across the Life-jackets and Lifeboats
office floor !
In post-World War II years, The Board of Trade not only
Railway and Farmers’ Rules reduced the certificated passenger numbers for many of the
steamers but too changed their requirements for life-jackets
With the coming of the railways, came, often complex, and couldn’t decide whether to have them of cork or kapok !
fares and freight tables and rules ! Even in the 1950’s and The changes from one-to-the-other product were expensive
1960’s, though long disregarded by even the most officious and, having been caught out before, ‘the company’, in its
of staff, ‘archaic’ rules continued to remain ‘on statute’ for wisdom and for many years, kept a full supply of both cork
railway and steamer alike. and kapok life-jackets for the whole fleet !

Even if it is easy to count cattle and sheep ‘by the head’, As a consequence of the 1912 “Titanic” disaster, new
farmers and butchers had to value animals more precisely. Board of Trade regulations brought about a boom in lifeboat
Some railway stations introduced weigh- bridges, but why building and even the local joiner in Upper Skelmorlie was
not stick to an old fashioned measuring tape like the contracted to build boats for many of the Clyde shipyards,
butchers. Measure round the beast, the cow, close behind the boats then drawn down the steep hill to Wemyss Bay’s
Goods Yard and taken by train to Greenock and Glasgow. casings and a small pantry-cupboard for the lounge steward
in its forward facing.
Thank goodness too that the ships’ crews never had to lower
their lifeboats in an emergency for not only were many of the Too in the lounge were the forward stairways, one running
lifeboats painted hard on to their deck resting-blocks but too upwards to the ‘Boat Deck’ and two ‘cross-ship’ stairways
was the case that many of the summer deck crews were going down to a ‘half-landing’ and a single stairway from
indeed getting well on in years, many being crofter- there to the ‘Main Deck’ and, leading to the ‘Fore Deck’, a
fishermen from the islands and, despite their general small inside enclosed ‘air-lock’ porch gave access to an outer
ableness, many would have ended up killing themselves sliding door and the forward end of the ship. Access to the
even trying to free the lifeboats from their resting-blocks ! fore-deck on the “Queen Mary II” was by means of a fixed
outer stairway leading down from the ‘Boat Deck’.
A Guided Tour of The “Duchess of Montrose”
Descending the stairway from the forward lounge we face
At this point, it might be appropriate to take a tour round the forward on the ‘Main Deck’ and, on either side of an
“Duchess of Montrose” as her layout is typical of nearly enclosed ‘private’ stairway to the Officer’s Cabins, are the
all the day excursion steamers which lasted sailed in post- doors to the ship’s Cafeteria, it being fitted with bench-type
war years and it is easy enough to look at their photographs seating and a serving counter at its forward end.
as we go along here, walking aft along the upper ‘Boat Deck’
and down the after stairway on to the ‘Shelter Deck’. Prior to 1930, when the “Duchess of Montrose” was built,
Now walking forward along the ‘Shelter Deck’, we come first this forward space in the turbines and indeed in some of the
to the shops, that to starboard selling tobacco, postcards older paddle steamers had been left open and unfurnished to
and souvenirs; the other, to port, once for selling fruit, now accommodate cargo and, in the days before ‘cafeterias’
selling sweets and souvenir boxes of chocolate and appeared, tea rooms, these later used as extra dining
‘Edinburgh Rock’. saloons, were located, like the ships’ Bars, on the ‘Lower
Facing us, at the top of the after stairway to the ‘Main Deck’, Deck’, below the main dining saloons.
is the single-windowed Purser’s Office and, beside its single Now walking aft on the ‘Main Deck’, there being
access door to starboard, a Mail Box, any postcards and passageways on both sides of the boiler casings - these
letters being posted there being ‘franked’ with the office being angled inwards on the “Saint Columba” only, we
stamp identifying the date and the ship herself and the mail pass the stable-type outward-opening ‘Ferry Doors’, the top
being posted ashore at the end of the day’s run. half generally opened but protected by a overhead-hinged
grating and then we come to the Engine Room and the
Going on forward along the ‘Shelter Deck’ and passing the Engine Control Platform.
break between the two funnel casings where the sliding
opening doors on either side of the ship, each able to Whilst on paddle steamers the engine and engine control
accommodate two gangways where passengers could platform would be fully open to view, the turbine steamers
embark, we enter the forward lounge furnished all round only allowed passengers a restricted view of the controls,
with forward facing basket-loom chairs. The forward funnel steam gauges and machinery space below on the lower deck
casing on this deck also provided accommodation for the and in the case of the old “King Edward”, The World’s first
‘deck chair’ store, in the break between fore and aft funnel commercial passenger steamer, everything was out of sight,
amongst a maze of steam-pipes, on the lower deck. In the day’s before V.H.F. radio, even though all the ships had
radios the sets were often housed away from the bridge and
Passing the engine room and continuing aft along the ‘Main ‘radio watches’ were ‘intermittent’ rather than ‘continuous’
Deck’, the toilets, ladies on the port side and gentlemen’s on as they required a dedicated watch-keeper to operate them.
the starboard side. On the “Queen Mary II”, the latter was Should occasion arise and provided they were in sight of
a ‘through-space’ blocking the starboard passageway and each other, the steamers could communicate with each
ladies could not gain access to the forward or after ends of other using Morse Code to send signals from an all-round
the ship’s main-deck accommodation except by way of the white light, this mounted on a short pole on a corner of the
stairways leading down from the ‘Shelter Deck’ as there was wheelhouse.
no through port passageway either, the space being taken
over by the boilers, engine room and ship’s Galley as the the Again to our Saturday afternoon Ailsa Craig cruise on the
dining saloon of the “Queen Mary II” was situated forward “Duchess of Montrose” and I regularly noticed that
instead of aft. several of the older men of her crew used to lean over the
deck-rail and take off their caps just as we would be about to
The paddle steamers’ toilets were situated in the paddle- cross the track of the Ardrossan - Brodick car-ferry route.
wheel ‘sponsons’ and, in the case of the “Caledonia”, her
Galley, like that in the “Maid of The Loch” on Loch Though sometimes difficult to tell apart, the 1930 Denny-
Lomond, was placed in the casing forward of the boiler. Of built “Duchess of Montrose” only three small rectangular
the “Maid of The Loch”, the stairways from upper to lower windows forward of the opening ‘stable-type’ landing ferry
decks were built in to her paddle-sponsons instead of leading door on the main deck, the 1932 Harland & Wolff-built
down from the deck shelters. “Duchess of Hamilton” had four and, being fitted with a
bow rudder for ease of handling in the confined spaces of Ayr
Continuing aft again along the ‘Main Deck’, the after harbour, the latter was fitted with a cross-tree on her main,
stairway going up to the ‘Shelter Deck’ and the Purser’s after-mast to carry the required signals when going astern
Office and, underneath this stairway, that to the Bar on the and using her bow rudder.
‘Lower Deck’, just behind the engine and machinery space.
The “Duchess of Montrose” and The “Hamilton” At
Now at the foot of the stairway on the ‘Main Deck’, the War
entrance to the Dining Saloon and, a few steps inside, the
Lower Dining Saloon, which in some steamers was, at some The “Duchess of Montrose”, certificated to carry 400
time, the ‘tea room’. Going further aft, the Galley. military personnel and 250 civilian passengers, was sent to
cover the Stranraer to Larne run at the end of September
There was nothing ‘sophisticated’ about the Bridge or its 1939 but, within the month, the Sea Transport Officer had
equipment. On the bridge wings, either side, were the her sent back to Gourock being persuaded that her ‘sister’,
Engine and Docking Telegraphs. Inside the Wheelhouse, a the “Duchess of Hamilton”, fitted with a bow-rudder
spoked steering-wheel and a compass - today’s paddle might be better suited to the harbours, the “Duchess of
steamer “Waverley” has an engine-room telegraph too in Hamilton”, then arriving at the end of October, would, in
the wheelhouse. addition to carrying troops, cover the mail service for the
“Princess Margaret”, temporarily out of service with engine
problems, between December 11 and 13, 1939. return visit to Stranraer on Saturday, September 6, 1969, a
charter from Ayr which too gave Stranraer passengers, as in
The “Duchess of Hamilton” was overhauled at her pre-war days, the chance of an afternoon cruise round Ailsa
builder’s yard, Harland & Wolff of Belfast in February 1940. Craig.
Just as well for in April 1940, the 53rd Welsh Division was
moved from South Wales via Stranraer to Northern Ireland, a Apart from occasional pre-war 1930’s visits to Campbeltown,
move involving some 11,000 troops and their baggage and a it was not until 1946 that the sister turbines would begin to
precaution against a possible German invasion of neutral appear there regularly, the “Duchess of Hamilton”
Eire. From the middle of the summer of 1940, continual carrying out the run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and
troop movements after the evacuation of Dunkirk and many alternate Sundays and Mondays, thus giving each turbine a
personnel going home on leave, led to both the “Duchess day off for maintenance once a fortnight and the “Duchess
of Hamilton” and the “Duchess of Montrose” working of Montrose” covering the other sailings each week until
the Stranraer crossing during June and July 1940. They were the end of August each year when she went into harbour for
both relieved by the Denny-built Thames excursion motor- her winter lay-up.
ship “Royal Daffodil”, the “Duchess of Montrose”
returning to the Wemyss Bay - Rothesay run at the end of July On Wednesdays, the “Duchess of Hamilton” cruised via
and the “Duchess of Hamilton” returning to Gourock in The Kyles of Bute to Brodick and Pladda, going direct to
October 1940 being recalled to Stranraer as needed. Largs from Brodick on the return run and, on Fridays, to Ayr
with a short cruise round Holy Isle. The “Duchess of
In early December 1945, the “Duchess of Hamilton” Montrose” carried out the Inveraray service on Tuesdays
again returned to Loch Ryan and, on the evening of Boxing and Thursdays - on one occasion, as mentioned earlier,
Day, Wednesday, December 26, 1945, while crossing from being relieved by the diesel-electric paddler “Talisman”
Larne with some 300 military personnel on board, she ran at which was actually observed arriving at Wemyss Bay exactly
full speed into an almost perpendicular cliff just south of on the turbine steamer’s advertised return time ! On
Corsewall Point, at the entrance to Loch Ryan. Saturdays, the “Duchess of Montrose” duplicated the
morning Gourock - Dunoon - Wemyss Bay - Rothesay peak
It was first thought that they had hit a mine and the ship’s ferry sailings and, returning to Gourock, then, via Dunoon,
distress signals brought out the Portpatrick lifeboat. In the Largs and Millport (Keppel Pier), cruised round Ailsa Craig
event, the “Duchess of Hamilton” had only a badly and on Sunday afternoons, the turbines alternating rosters,
buckled bow and was able to free herself under her own one or other would cruise to Lochranza Bay and Catacol or go
power and proceed to Stranraer where she lay until the round Holy Isle.
Saturday when, in the afternoon, she made her own way up-
river for repairs, a new bow at Henderson’s yard in Glasgow. The “Duchess of Montrose” was withdrawn at the end of
the 1964 season and left Greenock under tow on Thursday,
She then returned to the Stranraer station and remained August 19, 1965, to be broken up in Belgium.
there until Thursday, March 28, 1946 when she returned to
Gourock to give assist on the day’s services and then went Now alone, her roster having her cover Inveraray on
for re-conditioning at D. & W. Henderson’s yard and return to Tuesdays and Ayr on Fridays, the “Duchess of Hamilton”
peace-time sailings. The “Duchess of Hamilton” made a would carry on with the Campbeltown service till the end of
the 1970 season when, ‘for economic reasons’, she was laid
up and then sold in the following year to be converted into a Further on towards Ailsa Craig and some five miles south of
floating restaurant in Glasgow. The plans fell through and the island of Pladda, our course would take us near to the
she was towed to Troon in April 1974 for breaking-up. wreck of “U-33”, a mine-laying German submarine sunk by
H.M.S. “Gleaner” on February 12, 1940, exactly five years
Of seemingly heavier construction, the “Duchess of to the day before I was born and sunk by a ship whose
Montrose” was undoubtedly the better sea-boat of the pair predecessor was commanded by my maternal grand-father !
and, in the last week of her Clyde service proved, at least
on that occasion to be faster than her near sister. Round Ailsa Craig

By correspondence, it would have been Friday, August 28, By 4.45 p.m. we would be nearing the 1,114-foot high Ailsa
1964, the “Duchess of Hamilton” as usual going to Ayr Craig, a good reason never to book the 4.50 p.m. sitting for
and scheduled out of Rothesay at 10.15 a.m. to arrive in High Tea ! We always rounded Ailsa Craig, ‘the fairy rock’,
Largs at 10.45 a.m., five minutes ahead of the “Duchess of so that it was to port, on our left-hand side, its north-west
Montrose” on the Campbeltown run but, the “Duchess of face and cave below called Ashydoo. The ‘Craig’ itself, most
Montrose” won the race to Largs that day for unknown to famously known as Paddy’s Milestone, has also been called
Herbert Waugh, the Chief Engineer on the “Duchess of variously Elizabeth’s or Alastair’s Rock.
Hamilton”, his opposite number on the “Duchess of
Montrose”, Ned Higgins, had replaced his 1-inch With the coming of the excursion steamers, it became a
‘economy’ burners with 1½-inch oil burners that day and, as popular destination for day trippers, the “Duchess of
the two ships swept out of Rothesay Bay towards Largs, the Argyll” giving passengers the chance to go ashore for an
“Duchess of Montrose” quickly out-paced her rival and hour or so in the years before World War I and the Girvan
arrived in Largs at 10.45 a.m. causing the passenger queues family of Girvan’s steamers, beginning in 1906 with the
on the pier to be re-assembled to board their respective steamer “Ailsa” and then the “Ailsa II“, later renamed
cruise ships ! “Lady Ailsa”, running, with the exception of the war years
until 1955.

Steamer Commentaries

The “Dasher” and “U-33” Bearing down on to Ailsa Craig, the ship’s tannoy system
would again burst into life with the voice of Tom Dale, chief
This was in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and there was purser on the “Duchess of Montrose”, as he began to give
still much secrecy about her story but it was then that I heard passengers a detailed commentary as we rounded the island.
about the sinking there of the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Tom, who can be seen appearing on the upper deck of the
“Dasher” on March 27, 1943. Her loss was attributed to a “Duchess of Montrose” in the video “The Coasts of
petrol leak and, the fumes being ignited by a spark, she Clyde”, it made originally for British Transport Commission
blew up and sank just six minutes later only 149 of her crew Films, was the first and, for a long time, the only
of 528 surviving. commentator on the steamers and in the late 1960’s, when
the steamer company appointed ‘hostesses’ to the two Now passing the eastern face of the rock, the ship blows
remaining Clyde turbines and the “Maid of The Loch”, on again as we come abreast of the North Foreland and the
Loch Lomond, I wrote up pocket- sized commentary books island’s lighthouse, the lighthouse keepers hoisting and now
for the girls on the turbines as they had little knowledge of ‘dipping’ their flag to salute our weekly passage.
the area and the company itself hadn’t bothered to supply Until the 1869 and the building of the lighthouse, Ailsa Craig
them with any backup material. was home to some 250,000 puffins “their numbers so great
as to cause a bewildering darkness” but then, with the
Naively, expecting the girls would be able to read the notes builders, came rats, brown, or Norwegian rats and, by
in reverse order, I thought it only necessary to write these 1984, the puffins were gone, eaten by the rats.
commentaries for the ‘outward’ run of each day trip but, I
ended up spending another full day on each ship with In 1991, Glasgow University and Scottish Natural Heritage,
another couple of little spiral-bound books rewriting my notes using a Sea King helicopter, had 6½ tonnes of anti-coagulant
so that, once the ship had reached her destination, the ‘warafin’ rat poison delivered to the islands and the rats
pocket-book was turned over and read-back-the-other-way- eventually killed off. Much to their delight a puffin returned
round ! to the island but their delight was only short-lived for the
island’s resident peregrine falcon soon devoured the puffin !
The Rock and The Birds Happily, along came more puffins and they are now well re-
established despite their enemy.
Sailing close in under the west face of Ailsa Craig’s now
towering volcanic cliffs, the practice now banned, the ship’s High Tea
echoing steam whistle would lift thousands of birds into flight
from the rock faces, much to the delight of passengers - The ship now clear of the island, we make our way down for
Wearied and increasingly indifferent to these weekly the 5.30 p.m. sitting of High Tea, the choices being fresh
intrusions, ever fewer birds bothered to put on a show for the haddock and creamed (instant) potatoes or sausage, bacon
tourists towards the end of each season ! and egg or fresh salmon salad or gammon and cold meats
with salad. The tables too would be laden with teabreads of
Though not really for the faint-hearted, it is relatively easy to all types - white and brown bread, soda scones, fruit
walk the two or so miles round the southern shore of the scones and crumpets and always a choice of two, sometimes
island and, at low tide, negotiate the south-west corner at even three, different flavoured jams and a constant flow of
Stranny Point to visit the quite dramatic Water Cave. fresh, scalding hot, tea - all for 3/- (15 pence).

Seemingly clinging to the rock, high up on the eastern side Breakfast, Luncheon, Dinner & Tea
of the island, is a small square keep tower once held by the
Catholics on behalf of Phillip II of Spain and once too a retreat It is interesting now to compare with the 1950’s and 1960’s
for the monks from Crossraguel Abbey at Maybole, that offerings with the typical selection of fare offered in the
village too hosting the manufacturers of the curling stones dining saloon of the 1890’s -
whose stone, sourced from the island’s quarries, make Ailsa
Craig’s name known world-wide. Breakfast 2/- (reduced to 1/6d if only a single main dish
selected) : Ham and Egg, Salmon Steak, Chops, White
Fish, Herring, Sausages, Cold Meats, Rolls, Toast, was also carried on board and sold by the bottle - and by
Preserves, Tea and Coffee. the pint ! .
Luncheon - served from 10.30 a.m. till 2 p.m. - 2/- : Soup
or Salmon, Roast Lamb, Roast Beef, Corned Beef, Boiled Champagnes all at 10/6d per bottle, 5/6d per pint : Dry
Ox-Tongue, Boiled Ham, Potatoes and Vegetables, Assorted Monopole Heidsieck, G. H. Mumm’s, Perinet and Fils and
Sweets, Salads and Cheeses. Pommery. Port and Sherry being 5/- per bottle and 2/6d per
pint. Hocks : Sparkling Moselle at 6/- per bottle, 3/6d per
Dinner Table d’Hôte - served from 2.30 p.m. till 4 p.m. - pint; Hockheimer at 5/- per bottle and 2/6d per pint. Clarets
2/6d : Soup, Poached Salmon, Roast Lamb with Mint : Medoc at 2/6d per bottle, 1/6d per pint; St. Julien at 3/-
Sauce, Roast Beef, Corned Beef and Vegetables, Pickled Ox- per bottle and 1/9d per pint.
Tongue, Boiled Ham, Potatoes and Vegetables, Assorted
Sweets, Salads and Cheeses. For those who enjoy the challenge of ‘mental arithmetic’,
Tea - served from 4.15 p.m. onwards - 2/- (reduced to these simple ‘rule of thumb’ conversions persuade that there
1/6d if only a single main dish selected) : White Fish, Cold has been little change to restaurant and bar prices in the
Salmon, Cold Meats, Boiled Eggs, Toast, Preserves, Tea. course of a century though, if anything, one might say that
Plain Tea - served from 4.15 p.m. onwards - 9d : Toast, one got better value for money in ‘the good old days’ !
Biscuits, Preserves, Tea.
Given £1.00 in the 1890’s/early 1900’s, one would now need
For those simply ‘peckish’ : a plate of soup with bread 6d; a £60.00 to have the same purchasing power. In ‘the good old
plate of meat and potatoes, or salmon 1/-; tea, or coffee, days’, there were 240d, old pence, to the £.
with bread and butter, or a pastry 6d; pudding, or tart, or
a compôte of fruit 6d; jellies, or creams 6d; biscuits and A shilling 1/- (12 old pence) was equal to our 5 p coin and
cheese 6d; sandwiches 4d; pastries, or biscuits 1d each. for those who would convert to ‘euros’, the £ is currently
equal to somewhere between about 1.45 and 1.63 euros !
“Good Spirits”
Today, in 2003, the 2/- cost of lunch would equate to about
The typical 1890’s steamer bar prices were slightly more £6.00, a ‘nip’ of whisky or a ½ pint bottle of beer £1 - the
expensive than ‘shore prices’, not surprising in view of the prices for eating and drinking out do not appear to have
fact that they had a ‘captive’ clientele ! much changed but then too the 5/- cost of a third class rail
and cabin class steamer return ticket for a day cruise from
Spirits - per glass : Brandy 8d; Whisky, Rum, Gin, Port, Glasgow would now equate to about £15 and in fact, in
Sherry, Cordial (a range of these were available) and Lime 2002, a day trip from Glasgow on the “Waverley” costs
Juice were all 4d; Special Whisky : 3d per ‘nip’ and about £25, up 60% ! High fares ‘drive away’ passengers !
Bottled Beers were all priced at 4d each as were aerated
‘waters’. Sail Ho !

Liqueurs were 6d per ‘nip’, the most popular of the period On one Saturday evening, we had as usual finished High Tea
being Marachino, Benedictine and Green Chartreuse. A small shortly after 6 p.m. and, with Arran abeam of the ship to
selection of wines, reflecting the better sellers of the time, port, had gone for a walk round the upper deck when I saw a
tan-sailed yacht some miles ahead of us. At that very Garroch Head.
moment the ship’s mate appeared, going up to the bridge to
take over the watch and I asked him if there was any chance In 1911, a year after the second ship, the twin-screw
of us passing fairly close to the yacht, then slightly nearer to “Sheildhall”, was built, Glasgow hosted The Scottish
Arran than ourselves, as we headed up towards the National Exhibition and Glasgow Corporation’s Town Clerk
Cumbraes. discovered that, as long as the ships had sufficient life-
jackets and carried no more than 50 passengers, there was
When we overtook the yacht, she just a hundred or so yards no need to obtain proper passenger certificates and the new
upwind of us, she, just as I had predicted to the sceptical “Sheildhall”, with her comfortable saloon ‘for the use of
and now amused mate, proved to be the “Dyarchy”, a 50- the Sewage committee and council officials’, began taking
foot long, gaff-rigged, Laurent Giles designed, replica Bristol passengers on her daily down-river trips.
Channel Pilot Cutter which had been built in 1947 for one the
Pilkington Glass family directors, a truly photogenic little In August 1912, to mark the centenary of Henry Bell’s
ship. “Comet” and while the official party travelled to The Tail of
Immediately after Christmas and New Year Days, one of the The Bank on MacBrayne’s magnificent paddle steamer
car ferries used to do a special direct run from Largs to “Columba”, other representatives of the river’s shipbuilding
Brodick and on many of these occasions, generally about industry embarked on the “Sheildhall” to view the lines of
The Tan, between the two Cumbraes, we would meet warships, merchant ships and yachts drawn up off Greenock.
another replica yacht, a Loch Fyne fishing skiff, inward-
bound and under sail and, like many of the winter steamers With the “Dalmuir” being sold off in December 1920, she
and ferries in these days, carrying a little Christmas tree at then seeing forty
the top of her mast. years service as an Esso tanker at Southampton and only
scrapped in 1960, the “Sheildhall”, with her 14-man crew,
The Clyde ‘Banana Boats’ ‘not excessive’ in view of her being allowed to carry up to 80
passengers, carried on alone until 1925 when the
Just south of the Wee Cumbrae and the Garroch Head lay the “Dalmarnock” came into service.
dumping ground for ‘the banana boats’ which, in the course
of the decades, from 1904, when the service was initiated Despite “Shieldhall” receiving an extensive refit after
with the single-screw “Dalmuir”, till 1998, when the World War II, her passenger certificate was cancelled and, in
1970’s built “Garroch Head” and “Dalmarnock” were 1955, she was replaced by a new “Shieldhall”, built by
withdrawn after European Union regulations banned the Lobnitz’ Renfrew yard, that successor later being sold to
practice, discharged some 90 million tons of treated, Southern Water at the end of her career and now, being
nitrate-rich, sewage sludge into the five hundred foot deep preserved by enthusiasts, operating day cruises for their
waters just off Bute - During the war years, with the anti- ‘Solent Steam Packet Company’.
submarine boom stretching between Dunoon and the Cloch
Lighthouse, the sludge was dumped at the entrance to Loch
Long, between Baron’s Point and Strone Point, the ships’
crews continuing to be paid their ‘war risk bonus’ just as Fog
though they had still been sailing beyond ‘the boom’ to the
Though the Maids and the ABC car-ferries early on been fitted the Cumbraes and turning up the Bute shore to cruise into
start with radar sets, it was 1960 before the turbines and The Kyles of Bute and out towards Ardlamont Point, the
paddle steamers were to benefit and, as had happened in return taking us into Loch Riddon and on at least one rare
August 1953 when MacBrayne’s “Saint Columba” ran occasion to the head of Loch Striven.
ashore in Bute’s Ettrick Bay, the “Duchess of Montrose” On one occasion too, though its reason is now forgotten, the
too hit a big summer fog bank lying across the south end of Ailsa Craig cruise was cancelled and the “Duchess of
Bute and the Cumbraes as we headed northwards one Montrose” instead headed for Craigendoran to pick up the
evening on our way back from Ailsa Craig. late Saturday afternoon 4.50 p.m. sailing to Rothesay.

Bigger than a puffer - the wee boy on the “Maggie” used Craigendoran was generally off-limits to the deeper-drafted
a bucket of coal lumps, “If they ‘Plop’ it’s O.K. ! “ - and turbines because of the shallowness of the approach to the
without the advantage of radar, the “Duchess of pier but, it too was the case that one of the ABC car ferries
Montrose” entered the fog bank cautiously at slow speed had also made a call there, going in on a high ‘spring’ tide.
with lookouts posted forward and on the bridge wings as the
cold and damp fog began to swirl round the ship the fog’s To The “Talisman”
thickness only now letting us but half of the ship’s deck-
length ahead of us. Clear of the Wee Cumbrae, our interest now lay in the exact
whereabouts of the diesel-electric “Talisman” which should
There is a disconcerting eeriness about fog for it too blankets be nearing Millport’s Old Pier on her ‘down run’ from Wemyss
sound and we were immediately conscious of the silence of Bay and Largs.
the ship, now just like a sailing yacht, slipping silently
through the water and too we were struck by the silence of If she were late, as sometimes happened on a Saturday, it
the sea-birds which normally accompanied our passage. opened up the possibility of leaving the “Duchess of
Montrose” at Keppel Pier, where we were due at 7.20 p.m.
Suddenly the ship was shuddering, her engine-room and ‘being nice’ to Millport Motors’ bus driver, get him to
telegraph bells only and belatedly springing into life and take us round the bay in his 29-seat Bedford OB to catch the
ringing ! As luck would have it, a puff of wind had “Talisman” due to leave Millport’s Old Pier at 7.25 p.m. on
momentarily cleared the fog and we had narrowly avoided the ‘up run’ to Largs (7.50 p.m.), Wemyss Bay (8.20/8.30
running straight on to the Wee Cumbrae shore ! Needless to p.m.), Rothesay (9.00/9.15 p.m.), Dunoon (10 p.m.) and
say, the big fog bank only ran on for another few hundred then ‘home’ to Gourock at 10.20 p.m. - to catch the last,
yards and we broke out into the evening sunshine just beside 10.40 p.m. bus back again to Wemyss Bay ! If the
the Wee Cumbrae’s castle. “Talisman” were on time, we would, in any case, catch
her at Largs.
Not Ailsa ?
The “Talisman” made coffee-drinking interesting, her
Such was the popularity of the Saturday afternoon Ailsa Craig general vibrations, more severe than those of the too diesel-
cruises, some 300 hopeful passengers appearing each time electric “Lochfyne”, causing crockery and cutlery alike to
at Largs, that they were rarely cancelled even in bad glide gradually to the window-end of the forward saloon’s
weather, the ship then running through The Tan, between tables and encouraging passengers to wager on the outcome
of events. based Maid and an ABC car ferry still hard at work too.

Home From The Sea

Highland Games and Mail Boats It now about 10.20 p.m., our berth at Gourock lay near one
of the station entrances thus, hopefully, speeding up the
Thus via Largs and Wemyss Bay to Rothesay which, like transfer of passengers from ship to train and here a puzzle !
Dunoon, had its colourful Highland Games and on such Why, one wonders, when ships are ships, why are their
evenings the ship, the last connection that night to the connecting trains called ‘boat trains’ ?
mainland, would convey the pipe bands and individual
competitors, each playing their own ‘competing renditions’ With about fifteen minutes before the arrival of the last
against each other as we left the pier and headed up-river Wemyss Bay-bound bus, there was usually just enough time,
into the descending darkness. with good reason, to walk from Gourock pier to the chip shop
With the exception of Saturday nights, when there was no beside The Ashton Hotel. The exercise was well justified for
service, anyone missing the last boat from Rothesay could the then owner of the shop always tripped out of the hotel at
seek passage on the former fishing-boat “Endeavour” closing time to make the most wonderful chips imaginable,
which left Rothesay at midnight on the mail run direct to these crisp and brown and dry and just perfectly fried in beef
Gourock, the fare being “half-a-dollar (2/6d = 12½p) and 10 dripping - and perhaps just a little alcohol ?
Woodbine cigarettes” ! In later years, the “Endeavour”
was succeeded by Gourock-based Ritchie Brothers’ And so, after near 200-miles sailing in the course of a near
“Kempock Lad”, she supposed to leave Gourock, with mail 19-hour day, it was home on the bus to Wemyss Bay.
and newspapers for Dunoon and Rothesay at about 2.30 Though the paddle steamer “Waverley” now continues to
a.m.. Round Ailsa Craig, the withdrawal of the “Duchess of
Montrose” and the Jeanie Deans”, at the end of the 1964
Despite the fact that the “Talisman” had ‘no engines to season, signalled the beginning of the end for Clyde cruises.
see’, only the casing of her big ‘English Electric’ motor on
the paddle-wheel shaft turning at around 44-revolutions per Tripping Around On The Steamers
minute, the visual absence of ‘a proper engine’ did nothing
to deter her passengers from seeking ‘internal lubrication’ at Though the individual histories of all the Clyde steamers have
every opportunity. been well- recorded by a number of authors, few have seen
fit to give an overview of how the various ships ran in service
Though Bute Highland Games were always fairly well and to that end the following summary of services in the late
attended, the traffic returning from Dunoon’s Highland 1950’s and early 1960’s may be of value.
Games demanded that the Craigendoran- based paddle
steamers and the Gourock-based turbine steamers all had Sailing daily, including Sundays, from Glasgow’s Bridge
turn round at the end of their regular Saturday runs and head Wharf, on the south side of the river, at 11 a.m., the turbine
back to Dunoon to clear away the waiting crowds of mainly “Queen Mary” sailed down river for Gourock, Dunoon,
Glasgow-bound passengers and, as we ourselves left Rothesay and through The Kyles of Bute to Tighnabruiach
Dunoon at 10 p.m., it wasn’t unusual to find a Gourock- where the passengers had about an hour ashore.
cruise through The Kyles of Bute to Brodick and Pladda; on
The “Saint Columba”, later the “Lochfyne”, lying Tuesdays and Thursdays, the ‘3 Lochs’ (Loch Goil, Loch Long
overnight at Greenock’s Custom House Quay and, Sundays and Lomond) and ‘Hell’s Glen’ (via Lochgoilhead to Inveraray)
excepted, proceeded ‘light’ to Gourock each morning and Tour connections, the ship leaving Craigendoran at 10.10
then, at 9.15 a.m., sailed for Dunoon, Innellan, Rothesay, a.m. for Kilcreggan, Gourock, Dunoon, Blairmore,
Tighnabruiach and Tarbert to make the connection with the Lochgoilhead and Arrochar and then, in the late afternoon,
service from West Loch Tarbert to Gigha, Jura, Islay and taking up the 4.50 p.m. return service to Rothesay and too
Colonsay and, in summer only, to Ardrishaig. operating a double run on the Craigendoran - Rothesay on
non-cruise days.
The Gourock-based turbines, the “Duchess of Hamilton”
and “Duchess of Montrose”, split and shared their rosters Boat Trains and Connections
so that one or other was given a Monday off for maintenance
and too so that they took it turn about on Sundays to cover On Tuesdays and Thursdays, though a special ‘boat train’ ran
the Campbeltown run, the then freed ship taking an ‘The 3 Lochs Tour’ passengers from Balloch to Craigendoran,
afternoon cruise to Arran. it was actually faster to use the ordinary service trains, filling
up with ‘the school run’ and then changing at Dumbarton to
The “Duchess of Hamilton”, taking the Campbeltown run reach Craigendoran some ten minutes ahead of ‘the boat
on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, alternate Sundays and train’ whose timings were set to allow a steam locomotive to
alternate Mondays, was off on Wednesdays, via The Kyles of ‘change ends’ at Dumbarton. Too on these days, while the
Bute and Tighnabruiach to Brodick and down the Arran coast Rothesay-based Maid-Class vessel took the Millport, Largs
to Pladda, the return run being made direct from Brodick to and Wemyss Bay passengers to Dunoon to connect with ‘The
Largs etc.. Off too on Fridays, she sailed via Brodick to Ayr 3 Lochs Tour’ and bus connections giving a reverse ‘Loch
and then offered a short afternoon cruise, strongly supported Eck Tour’ connection to Inveraray and a ‘Hell’s Glen Tour’
by Butlin’s Heads of Ayr campers, round Arran’s Holy Isle, variant to Lochgoilhead, it was the stalwart little “Countess
the destination being changed to Turnberry Light if there was of Breadalbane” which picked up the return connections
a heavy swell from the south. from Dunoon in the late afternoon. A Maid-Class vessel also
The “Duchess of Montrose” operating the other gave an Arrochar sailing on Saturdays but this was little used
Campbeltown sailings, went to Inveraray, for The Loch Eck as Saturdays were essentially ‘change-over’ days for
Tour, on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then did the Ailsa Craig holidaymakers coming or going on holiday.
cruise after covering the busy Saturday morning ‘reliefs’ to
Dunoon and Rothesay. On Wednesdays, the Craigendoran ‘Round The Lochs’ cruise
roster provided a reverse Round Bute trip from Largs in the
The Craigendoran-based paddlers “Jeannie Deans” and morning which, from Rothesay and Dunoon in the afternoon,
“Waverley” alternated rosters weekly the Round Bute cruise took the ship into The Holy Loch and Loch Goil before
roster operating daily, except Saturdays when the ship made returning to Largs, then Millport and Rothesay.
a double run to Rothesay and the Round Bute cruise being While the permanently Kilmun-based “Maid of Ashton”
advertised as ‘towards Skipness’ or Skate Island on Sundays. spent her career on the Holy Loch service, her three sisters,
The other Craigendoran paddle roster provided, as did the the “Maid of Argyll”, “Maid of Cumbrae” and “Maid of
“Duchess of Hamilton” on Wednesdays, the Monday Skelmorlie”, swopped rosters on a three week cycle so that
one covered the Craigendoran - Rothesay run; another, until late either.”
based at Gourock, covered some afternoon cruises, such as
Hunter’s Quay to Dunagoil Bay and the third, based at Knowing full well the truth of affairs, the school rector,
Rothesay, ran morning ‘Café Cruises’ and the daily afternoon himself a lay church reader and me by then a church
Cumbrae Circle cruise, the Millport-based “Talisman” doing organist, readily accepted my argument that I wasn’t
the Largs - Wemyss Bay service and a reverse Cumbrae ‘skiving’ off ‘school games’ in the true sense of ‘skiving’ and I
Circle sailing close by Kilchattan Bay. finished my school days without any demands for me ever to
turn up at the school playing fields again !
School Tripping !
With the car ferry “Arran” on the Gourock - Dunoon run,
Going to secondary school, from Skelmorlie to Greenock the “Bute” running between Rothesay and Wemyss Bay and
Academy, I spent my first year there walking the twenty- the Fairlie-based “Glen Sannox” on the Brodick - Ardrossan
minute journey pointlessly every week to the games field at service, the “Cowal” operated a thrice-weekly Wemyss Bay
Fort Matilda only to discover that the Games Master never - Millport car ferry service and then backed up the others at
turned up. weekends.
From second year onwards, if ‘games days’ were on
Mondays or Wednesdays, I would catch the 3 p.m. bus to The Millport-based “Ashton” and “Leven”, running the
Wemyss Bay, leave my school bag in the station bookstall or Largs ferry service, were off on Sundays and then relieved by
ticket office and take the 3.30 p.m. Maid-Class vessel to the “Countess of Breadalbane” which, for the rest of the
Largs, have coffee in ‘The Moorings and catch the returning week and despite her 10½-knot service speed, was
Brodick and Pladda sailing home, via Rothesay, to reach employed on a variety of ‘feeder services’, such as that
Wemyss Bay at 5.45 p.m.. If ‘games day’ fell to a Tuesday or returning Loch Eck Tour passengers from Dunoon to Wemyss
Thursday, I would walk on past the Fort Matilda playing Bay and Largs.
fields, watch the girls, in their short gym-tunics playing
hockey at the Battery Park and then walk on to Gourock to The “Caledonia”, based at Ayr from Mondays to Thursdays
catch ‘The 3 Lochs Tour’ connection, now heading for to give ‘up-Firth’ cruises, gave an excursion to
Dunoon and then the “Countess of Breadalbane” which Casmpbeltown on Mondays and this connection, though it
would get me back to Wemyss Bay for tea. was unadvertised as such, allowed tourists to travel down
Kilbrannan Sound to Campbeltown on the turbine steamer
I was actually in sixth-year before the school rector called me and then, picking up the “Caledonia”, take her to Whiting
in to find out why I hadn’t been at game the previous day ! Bay (closed at the end of the 1961 season) and then walk, or
“Where were you yesterday at 4 o’clock when the roll was take the bus, over the hill to Lamlash and take the bus from
taken at ‘games’ ? “ he asked. “Sitting in Largs, in ‘The there to Brodick to catch the car ferry “Glen Sannox” back
Moorings’ having coffee with The Provost of Largs’ daughter,” to Fairlie on her last run of the day.
I replied. The rector looked at me for a moment, somewhat
puzzled at what to say next. “Did you know that we got a There were for long, no car ferry sailings to Arran on
new P.E. teacher a couple of years ago, one that actually Sundays and the “Glen Sannox”, lying at Brodick from
takes ‘games’ ? “ he asked. “Yes,” I replied, “I went to Saturday night, would leave on ‘The Death Run’, from
‘games’ every day of his first term but he never turned up Brodick to Ardrossan, at 6 a.m. on Monday mornings many of
her passengers getting up just after 4 a.m. to catch the buses
from the west side of Arran. Too in these days, it should be With the withdrawal of the “Caledonia” at the end of 1969,
said that Arran, Cumbrae and Bute all belonged to the the turbine- driven “Queen Mary” found herself on the
County of Bute and some Arran school-children even made annual cruise to Millport Illuminations and though the regular
their way to school n Rothesay, rather than to Ardrossan, for masters and mates of the paddle steamers and Maid Class
their final years studies. vessels, generally, had no problems entering or leaving
Millport’s Old Pier via the main channel between the Spoig
At weekends, the “Caledonia” was based at Gourock and and the Outer Eilean even at low tide, when there was as
on Fridays gave an up-river cruise from Largs to Glasgow little as 7-feet of water over the rocky bottom, it was a
where one could join a coach for a tour of the city. On Fridays different matter for those only vaguely familiar with the
too, the “Duchess of Hamilton” going to Ayr, it was surrounding waters to take a deeper-drafted turbine steamer
possible to do another ‘unadvertised circular’ taking the 2 in and out, not least at low tide and at night. It was not
p.m. train from Ayr and then joining the “Caledonia” in however Millport that proved the problem for one master of
Glasgow for the run back down to Largs. the “Queen Mary” but rather the better known faces of the
piers at Largs and Rothesay which made a mockery of his
The “Caledonia” too began the practice of sailing from ship-handling skills as we returned from Millport and there
Gourock to Millport’s Illuminations every Glasgow September was no adverse weather either to blame for what took place
Weekend Saturday, these sailings now continued by as we tried to berth.
“Balmoral” from Glasgow and, when “Caledonia” was
withdrawn, performed by the turbine “Queen Mary”. No Swell Show at Largs

Millport Illuminations The approach to Largs from the south is perfectly

straightforward, even if there is a slight swell running and
The Millport Illuminations’ Cruises, with the little ‘padella even if the swell is washing on to the solid face of the pier.
lights’ on the Inner and Outer Eileans and all the island’s The sequence of engine-room and docking-telegraph orders
shop windows specially decorated for the occasion, have from “Full Ahead” together, is ordinarily minimal - “Half
always drawn huge crowds and passengers trying to board at Ahead” together - “Slow Ahead” together - “Stop” together
Largs often being turned away for lack of room on board the - “Half Astern” together - “Throw Line(s)” forward and aft -
ships. On these occasions, the only way to see and meet up “Stop” port (outer) engine and “Haul In” forward (bow) line,
with all ‘the regulars’ on board was to be first off at Millport the starboard (inner) engine continuing to be allowed to go
and walk quickly out along the town front, past The Garrison, astern to pull the ship’s bow and hull in towards the pier -
to the furthest out ‘hostelry’, there being another three on “Stop” starboard (inner) engine and “Make Fast” forward
the way back to ‘investigate’. (bow) and after (stern) lines, the ship now moored securely
The final ‘port-of-call’ in these days was, not to the chip shop alongside and the pier gangways slid on board. The exercise
but, to the Chinese take-away which always made the better is virtually the same pier-in, pier out but, that night on the
fish suppers and chips which were eaten as we watched the “Queen Mary”, coming into Largs from Millport, there more
ship’s passengers boarding for the return sailing up-river. than 90 telegraph orders !

An Illuminating Display
We managed to get away from Largs late but smoothly - Class vessels, it too deserted and tied up for the night.
“Let Go” forward (bow) line, “Slow Astern” port (outer)
engine and “Hold In” after (stern) line - “Stop” outer (port) By rights we should have berthed easily, the sequence of
engine - “Let Go” after (stern) line - “Haul In” after (stern) engine-room and docking telegraph orders being near-exactly
line - “Slow Ahead” port (outer) engine to lift us slowly those described in the fore-going for going alongside at Largs
away from the face of the pier, the docking-telegraphs from but, by some perverse chance of nature, the Rothesay
the bow and stern now ringing their “All Clear” signals, pierman was a little late in grasping the end of the ship’s
indicating bow and stern lines safely clear from the water and forward heaving-line, it was after all just past 10 o’clock and
coming inboard - the ship then giving 2 blasts (Going to “closing time” ashore and by the time he had dragged and
Port) on her whistle and engine-room telegraphs now to lifted the loop of the main forward (bow) line over the top of
“Half Ahead” both engines, the engineers simply turning the the pier bollard and the ship’s capstan could even start to
‘centre’ throttle wheel which admitted steam to both the haul the line tight, a light evening breeze caught the ship
outer and the centre ‘ahead’ turbines and finally “Full and began to push the ship’s stern out into Rothesay Bay
Ahead”, on the Clyde, unlike the practice on MacBrayne’s making all attempts to throw the heaving lines ashore, for
and deep-sea ships, there was no ‘double ring’ of the ‘Full the ship’s after (stern) and ‘waist’ ropes, fruitless !
Ahead’ signal to the engine room and the telegraphs
wouldn’t be touched until approaching the next pier, here, The simple solution was to “Slack Away”, then have the
Rothesay. Rothesay piermen, the length of line now out would need two
men, lift the bow line off the pier bollard and ring “Haul In”
Jacket’s Off ! on the forward docking-telegraph and, once clear of the pier,
do a quick ‘Round-The-Bay’ circle and come alongside the
As we approached Craigmore, the young second engineer berth again ! But then, determinedly, the master hung on
who had been off-watch, down in his cabin with his girlfriend, to his pier and, strung out like a fish on a fishing-line, we
now ‘straightening his tie’ and pulling on his uniform jacket, went “Dead Slow Ahead” trying to edge the ship, now at
came along the starboard main deck alleyway to go on watch right-angles to the pier, ever closer in towards the ‘No 1’
and relieve the chief engineer before going in to Rothesay. berth.
“You won’t need the jacket ! “ I said to him as he passed,
“The Chief’ll tell you ! “ The by-now recovered chief With the evening breeze continuing to push our stern round
engineer, now officially off watch, stayed to watch the next to the east, it wasn’t long before we were bow on and at a
chapter of events ! 45° angle to the stern of the deserted Wemyss Bay car ferry
in the ‘No 2’ centre berth of the pier and by now the ship’s
Sweeping round Rothesay Bay, we approached the pier’s ‘No young 2nd engineer not only had his jacket off but too had
1’ berth just as though the ship was coming down from discarded his tie as he struggled with the now ever-ringing
Tighnabruiach and The Kyles of Bute. This was an everyday engine-room telegraphs and the engine throttles.
berth for the ship and her master and surely nothing could go
wrong here ! In the ‘No 2’ berth, the pier’s centre berth, lay Eventually, one of the Rothesay piermen appeared on the
the Wemyss Bay car ferry all tied up for the night and at the deserted Wemyss Bay car ferry’s stern and caught another
easterly ‘No 3’ berth, at the other end of the pier and the heaving line from our bow, this being the port-side bow
entrance to Rothesay’s inner harbour, lay one of the Maid- heaving line and once caught it fed down to another pierman
on the pier and the now snagging starboard bow line from In summer, with the turbines and paddle steamers crewed
the ship was slackened off and quickly hauled in-board so by the all-year-round masters and mates, the other ‘mates’
that we could edge our way forward into our berth, our holding, at least, ‘Home Trade’ masters certificates were
stern-rope heaving lines too being passed down to the pier temporarily promoted masters of the ABC car-ferries and
via the car ferry’s stern ! Maid-Class vessels and summer contracts were given to
temporary mates, many home on leave from deep-sea
We were now unusually, probably uniquely, facing ‘bow- companies to study for their deep-sea chief officer’s and
out’, in a westerly direction from ‘No 1’ berth, were nearly master’s ‘tickets’, men unused to ‘ship-handling’ !
half-an-hour late in near-inexplicable circumstances and had
only berthed after, thought the chief engineer, some 110 One of the ‘new’ mates joined the Wemyss Bay - Rothesay
engine-room telegraph orders and an unknown count of car ferry but lasted only four days ! He had been on the
docking-telegraph orders. evening watch, taking the weekday 6.20 p.m. run to
Rothesay and three nights running had made a mess of
We left Rothesay with the ship’s mate taking over the watch, berthing at Rothesay, the passengers missing their bus
the despairing master retreating to his cabin for the rest of connections home from the bus stances at Guildford Square.
the run and being off on ‘sick leave’ for some time
afterwards. The ship, now under increased speed to make The disgruntled passengers complained to the Gourock
up time - and cut overtime too - was quickly in and out of office, not so much that they had missed their buses but
Dunoon and berthed at Gourock little more than ten minutes rather, that on third night, the Wednesday night, that they
late, a very tired ship’s 2nd engineer leaving his girlfriend to had missed their regular dose of “Tom & Jerry” cartoons on
walk home alone to Ashton while he shut the ship down for BBC TV !
the night !
Another ‘new’ mate, on the “Waverley”, was fired for
‘The Narrows’ and Other Manoeuvres ‘following the map on the company’s brochure and hazarding
the ship ! “
Though the width of ‘The Narrows’, at the north end of Bute,
was barely enough to accommodate the big paddle steamers The “Waverley” had been on the Monday cruise through
and most masters reduced their speed to negotiate the The Kyles of Bute to Brodick and Round Pladda and the
passage. MacBrayne’s three-funnelled turbine “Saint weather being calm, there being no sea swell and the
Columba” regularly used the inshore West ‘Yacht’ Channel helmsman on duty himself belonging to the south end of
instead of ‘The Narrows’ and, despite the channel’s fairly Arran, the mate had, as the company’s route map promised
tight right-angled bend, her master took her through at full passengers, taken the lightly-loaded paddle steamer inside
speed regardless of the state of tide, a manoeuvre which Pladda and over the reefy bottom which joins Pladda to
guaranteed him reaching Tighnabruiach each morning ahead Arran.
of any opposing ships. In later years, the West ‘Yacht’
Channel was occasionally used on Sunday afternoons when, That same season, another ‘new’ mate was fired for obscure
or so it seemed, nearly every afternoon cruise headed for reasons and he was then, almost immediately, successful in
The Kyles and Tighnabruiach. being appointed master of The Marconi Company’s motor
research-yacht “Electra”, subject to passing a medical
examination with their company doctor in London. The night to starboard.
before the ‘master-to-be’ went for his medical, he met some
of his sea-going pals in London to celebrate his appointment, As the ship’s bow began to swing, the captain rang the
it understandably cancelled the next day when he engine-room telegraph for the starboard engine to “Stop”
subsequently appeared for his medical ! Undaunted the and then to “Full Astern” so that it helped pull the ship, now
miscreant returned to Greenock and signed on with the local beginning to roll heavily with the southerly swells on her
employment exchange seeking a job as ‘master of a paddle beam, round on to her homeward course. As the ship’s head
steamer’ ! As The Clyde was by then the last preserve of the came further round, he then reduced the starboard engine’s
paddle steamers and the company had already fired him, it power from “Full Astern” to “Slow Astern” and “Stop”, the
was two years later, by which time he had passed his deep- ship now steadying herself and the swells now nearly astern.
sea master’s ticket, before he got a job and finally signed off A few moments later, the starboard engine shaft now near
! stopped, he rang both port and starboard engine-room
telegraphs to “Full Ahead” and, with a wave to the
Twin-Screw Turnarounds helmsman and the mate, disappeared down the bridge stair
and went back to see how the ship’s passengers had fared
The main reason for the “Duchess of Hamilton” visiting during the manoeuvre !
Ayr on Fridays was to give Butlin’s Heads of Ayr
holidaymakers an afternoon cruise Round Holy Isle and even The seeming nonchalance of the captain of the “Duchess of
in heavy southerly swells, with some 800 passengers coming Hamilton” was also part of the character of one P. & A.
from Butlin’s, the steamer ventured out turning into the Campbell’s Bristol Channel masters, a man still in charge
swell and running down the Ayrshire coast to turn homewards despite his then reportedly 80+ years. By the time of the
when abreast of Turnberry Lighthouse, the process of turning story, Campbell’s had apparently got into the habit of
in the swells demanding good timing. returning day trippers homewards by coach if the weather
turned nasty and, on this occasion, the relieving mate of the
The regular master of the “Duchess of Hamilton” was a paddle steamer had already telephoned for coaches to take
sociable character and on one such occasion had been down the ship’s passengers home. Hearing this, the old captain,
in the ship’s bar ‘ensuring that the ship’s passengers were despite the big seas now running outside the harbour heads,
comfortable’ and, as we neared Turnberry, one of the cancelled the coaches and took himself past the engine-room
assistant pursers was sent down to update him on the ship’s as he made his way to the ship’s bridge. Until their very end,
position. all Campbell’s own ships had open bridges, the few with
radar having these installed in a small cabin abaft the open
Excusing himself from the company, the captain made up steering positions.
the stairs on to the main deck and, passing along the
alleyway, he stuck his head into the doorway of the engine- Once on the bridge, the old captain ‘let go’ the steamer’s
room to find out who was on watch before continuing on up bow and stern lines and let the wind blow the ship out
to the bridge to take over from the mate while the ship was towards the centre of the harbour. An engine-room telegraph
turned homewards. Abreast of Turnberry Lighthouse, the fitted beside the ship’s steering wheel, as is common on
captain watched the oncoming swells for his opportunity and many ships, the old captain waited until the ship’s stern was
then waved his arm for the helmsman to spin the wheel hard just about in line with the end of the harbour wall, he rang
the engine “Full Astern” and, expertly spinning the steering-
wheel as the ship quickly gathered way, he took the steamer Steam and Engines
‘dead-centre’ out of the harbour into the big running swells,

quite a feat considering too that his visibility was
he design of the first machine to harness the properties of
considerably restricted by the ship’s funnel. As the bow
steam is generally attributed to Hero of Alexandria,
cleared the harbour entrance, he spun the wheel down hard
around 130 B.C.. Next came Blasco de Garay, a Spaniard,
to starboard and rang “Stop” on the engine-room telegraph.
who, on Thursday, June 14, 1543, is believed to have
successfully crossed Cadiz harbour in a steam paddle-boat
Almost immediately, without waiting for the paddle wheels
and, had it not been for the suspicion of The Spanish
to stop, the ship’s engineers primed to his orders, the old
Inquisition, the 1588 Spanish Armada might well have run
captain rang now for “Full Ahead” and spun the steering-
rings round the English fleet just as would happen when
wheel hard to port as the ship slowed, stopped momentarily
Parson’s “Turbinia” appeared at the Spithead Fleet Review
and then, without even waiting for the paddle beats to
in 1897.
steady, the old captain waved to the mate to take over as he
went down below for his tea, well satisfied that he had yet
In 1695, Denys Papin launched a small paddle steamer on
again saved the company having to hire a dozen or so
The Seine but the engine’s inefficiency led further
coaches to take everyone home !
development to be abandoned at the that time. Next came
Thomas Newcomen who, in 1712, built a steam engine to
On Saturday, September 17, 1966, we went up-river on the
pump water from the Cornish mines and then, in 1765,
“Maid of Argyll” to Paisley Harbour, the swing-bridge over
came James Watt who devised the modifications to overcome
the river at Inchinnan being closed for the final time and the
Newcomen’s engine’s shortcomings. James Watt’s
harbour soon closed to even puffers, two of the last of them
condenser ensured that steam was no longer wasted and
being there that afternoon.
Watt used the force of the steam to effect both upward and
downward movement of the piston(s) subsequently adding
With Paisley Harbour already well-silted and having berthed
the eccentric crank and the parallel motion necessary to
‘bow in’ to let people get good photographs of the occasion,
make engines work properly.
the captain of the “Maid of Argyll” ran out a light ‘heaving-
line’ across the harbour to one of the puffer-men in case we
Importantly too, Watt identified that it was necessary to
needed to warp the ship round to get out of the harbour and
keep the cylinder at the same temperature as the steam from
down-river again. In the event, the ‘heaving-line’ became
the boiler before condensing the steam in a separate vessel
redundant for the captain was able simply to ‘let go’ the bow
and to found the need to make the cylinder watertight,
and stern lines, let us drift out into the centre of the harbour
covering it with liquid fat or oil instead of water !
and, with the wheel ‘hard-to- starboard’, by ringing for “Half
Ahead” on the port (inner) engine and “Half Astern” on the
In 1782, a cut-off valve was introduced to cut the supply
starboard (outer) engine, he swung the ship round in near
of steam to the cylinder before the piston completed its
her own length and moments later, ships’ whistles blowing,
stroke and a flywheel which, by its momentum, balanced
we set off home at “Half Ahead” together so as not to create
the engine and carried the crank past ‘dead spots’, these
a damaging wash on the riverbanks.
making the engine difficult to turnover and start.
Following Watt’s death in 1819, his papers and records were In the Newcomen engine, the top of the piston was exposed
moved to Doldowhold House, Radnorshire, which he had to the atmosphere and the downward ‘ power’ stroke resulted
bought in 1785 and there they have lain unlooked-at and from atmospheric pressure, hence the name atmospheric
gathering dust ever since. With the death of their custodian, engine. As the beam rocked, it pulled up a rod, which, in
Lord Gibson-Watt, they may now at last come into the public the case of the mines, was connected to a pump which
domain. drained the mine of water.

The Smoking Stacks - “The Deil himsel’ coming doon all While repairing the model engine, Watt figured out why the
in smoke - Guid save us !“ Newcomen’s engine required so much steam, the problem
lay in the cylinder where there was a rapid swing of
Probably few could have realised the significance of the new temperature.
order of things of which ‘the smoking stacks’ were a sign. It
meant the end of comparative isolation to countless When the steam entered, the cylinder need to be at 212°
communities and the beginning of a new age, of ‘steam’. Fahrenheit to avoid
heat loss, but to condense the steam, the cylinder needed
to be at about 60° Fahrenheit. Much energy, too much,
James Watt and ‘The Happy Conception’ was lost in reheating the cylinder walls for each stroke of the
cylinder. Between that winter of 1763-1764 and May 1765,
Watt, son of a Greenock merchant and town councillor, was Watt carried out a number of experiments. Then, one
born in 1736. He went to Glasgow, in 1754, to learn the Sunday morning, while strolling on Glasgow Green, came the
trade of a mathematical-instrument maker but, The idea of a separate condenser.
Hammerman’s Guild putting up difficulties in his way to start
his own business, he found a job with Glasgow’s University in The idea was simple, a vessel immersed in cold water, away
1757. from the cylinder itself, into which the hot steam could be
fed thus allowing the cylinder to remain hot continuously.
During the winter of 1763-1764, Dr John Anderson, Professor This ‘happy conception’, which formed the first step in his
of Natural Philosophy - natural science, asked him to repair career, would immortalise Watt’s name.
a model of one of Newcomen’s steam engines, which Watt
quickly did. Watt however struggled with his ideas for some nine years,
during which he undertook the surveys of The Forth and
The Newcomen engine, successfully used in pumping water Clyde (1767), Tarbert/Crinan (1771) and Campbeltown Coal
from mines for nearly 50 years, consisted of three main (1773) canals and then, after an abortive enterprise with
parts : the boiler, which converted the water to steam; the John Roebuck, who had founded the Carron Ironworks in
cylinder, into which the steam entered below the raised Stirlingshire in 1759, Watt moved to Birmingham and entered
piston and was condensed by a jet of cold water and the partnership with Matthew Boulton, as Boulton & Watt, in
beam, a rocking arm supported at mid-length, which was 1774, they would dominate the steam engine market across
pulled down on one side when the condensed steam left a The World for the next twenty-five years.
vacuum below the piston.
Watt also met up with iron founder John Wilkinson, who had what had happened and, using a ‘foot-rule’, proceeded to
just patented a new method of boring out cannons and his demonstrate to the engineer the importance of what had
cylinder problems were over. Watt had patented his separate occurred.
condenser in 1769, in these days a 14-year patent which
would have expired in 1783. Boulton, realising he could Unable to make the ship’s engineer understand the
never recover his capital investment in such a short time, theoretical, Watt threw off his coat and putting his hand to
successfully lobbied Parliament and, in May 1775, was the engine’s controls gave a practical illustration of his
granted a 25-year patent extension. Between 1781 and lecture to the engineer ! Watt’s discovery was momentous
1785, Watt would patent the ‘sun and planet’ motion, the and now enabled the ship to come alongside piers with
expansion principle, the double engine, the parallel motion, ‘precision and promptitude’ - Thus, the first intentional
a smokeless furnace, the governor and the steam carriage, reversing of a marine engine occurred at Rothesay Pier !
a model of which William Murdock tried out at Redruth in
1784, forty years before the Stockton - Darlington railway hit The Pioneers
the headlines.
Partick Miller, proprietor of Dalswinton in Dumfries-shire, his
In the early days of steamboats, the practice of making them son’s tutor, James Taylor and mining engineer William
go astern was either unknown or only effected by accident ! Symington took steam to the water in 1786 and for the next
couple of years their little 25-foot boat could be seen
The custom was to stop the engine when a considerable way steaming around the confines of Dalswinton Loch.
from the quay and, hopefully, drift alongside This was
indeed a difficult operation, dependent on the co-operation Then, in 1802, to the order of Lord Dundas, Governor of The
of wind and tide and luck ! Forth & Clyde Canal , Symington built the “Charlotte
Dundas”, a stern-wheeler tug and, on a wet and windy
The “Dumbarton Castle”, built in 1815, had been the first March day, she set off along the canal towing tow barges,
steamer to reach Rothesay, her master, Captain Johnston, the “Euphemia” and the “Active”. Despite their weighing
had even been given a punch bowl by Rothesay’s Town some 70 tons each and despite going against the wind, their
Council for his ‘daring’. In the following year, 1816, James 20-mile journey took just six hours.
Watt made his final trip home to Scotland and had taken a
trip to Rothesay on the “Dumbarton Castle”, the first Fears that the steamers’ wash would damage the canal
steamer to venture out of the Clyde’s sheltered upper banks led to the project being abandoned and though
reaches on a regular basis, the first steamer to call at Symington’s ‘apparatus’ became neglected here others
Rothesay. recognised its potential including Robert Fulton, a painter of
miniature portraits and landscapes from Philadelphia,
Naturally Watt entered into conversation with the ship’s studying in London.
engineer and was told that on the previous evening the ship
had run aground on the river-bank while going up-river home. Across The Pond
Fortunately, as the tide flooded, the pressure of the current
on the paddle-floats had caused the engine to reverse and On August 22, 1787, John Fitch paved the way against wind
the ship came off the river-bank. Watt instantly grasped and tide on the Delaware River with his little 30-foot steam
paddle launch. By 1790 he had established a regular service managed to get the New York State Legislature to grant
between Philadelphia and Burlington, but it was not a Fulton and himself the promise of a 20-year monopoly to
commercial success. operate a 20-ton, at least, boat on all New York waters, at a
rate of 4 mph.
In August 1787, James Rumsey made two trial runs with his
steam launch on the Potomac River and got to a speed of 3 “The mechanic,” wrote Fulton, “should sit down among
mph before part of his boiler failed. He tried again, twice, in levers, screws, wedges, wheels etc., like a poet among
December that same year but continued to have boiler letters of the alphabet, considering them as the exhibition of
problems. his thoughts, in which a new arrangement transmits a new
idea to The World.”
Both inventors used their own designed reciprocating
engines but, while Rumsey used a set of vertical paddles, Fulton returned to England, spoke to Henry Bell who would
imitating galley slaves’ oars, Rumsey’s boat had a simplified later build the “Comet” ( ! ) and placed his engine order in
form of jet propulsion. Birmingham and even before he reached New York, on
Fish and Rumsey both tried to get local monopolies to fend December 13, 1806, his new Boulton and Watt engine had
off each other and too to establish priority of invention. arrived ahead of him, all 20-horsepower of it. Yes, Fulton
Designed therefore primarily to deal with steamboat claims, was building a ‘big boat’ 154-feet long, 18-feet beam and,
Congress, on April 10, 1790 passed the very first U.S. patent for the shallow waters of the Upper Hudson River, just 2-feet
law. in depth. The paddle-wheels too were ‘big’, 14-feet in
diameter and designed to turn at 16 revolutions per minute.
Robert Fulton
At 1 p.m. on Monday, August 17, 1807, Fulton’s “North
In 1797, Fulton abandoned painting and went off to France River Steamboat”, soon to be called, after his backer’s
where he made a couple of experiments with steamboats on etstate, the “Clermont”, went up the Hudson, known then
The Seine in 1803, too slow for his backer and for Napoleon ! in New York as the North, River to Clermont. The trip took
Fulton had also devised a prototype submarine torpedo boat 24-hours and then she went on to Albany, a total of 150
but neither the French nor British were interested. What is miles in just 32 hours, more than the necessary 4 mph.
important about Fulton is the undoubted fact that, though he
was not the first to apply steam to ships, he was the first to Fulton succeeded because of Watt’s engine but, he paid a
do it successfully. heavy price because much of the engine’s power went to
carry the heavy engine itself and the engine’s size
Unlike Fitch and Rumsey and other steamboat designers who considerably reduced the ship’s onboard space for
tried to use their own engines, Fulton’s simple goal was to passengers and cargo.
design a successful steamboat using already available ideas
and components and his obvious choice for engineers were Watt’s designs had proven effective for fixed power plants
Boulton and Watt. but they were not well suited to mobile plants where
lightweight construction was of greater importance than fuel
Fulton too had a financial backer, Robert R. Livingston, who economy.
owned an imposing estate on the Hudson River and who had
Fulton and his backers now built a second ship, the 371-ton The Steamboat “Comet”
“New Orleans” and she began operating on the lower Between Glasgow, Greenock and Helensburgh
Mississippi River in 1811. In her first year she cleared For Passengers Only
$20,000 profits for her owners “above expenses, repairs and
interest on investment on a property valued at $40,000.” The subscriber, having, at much expense, fitted up a
handsome vessel to ply upon The River Clyde from Glasgow,
Two years later, the owners of the 371-ton “New Orleans” to sail by the power of air, wind and steam, intends that the
built another ship, this time a little ship, the 25-ton vessel shall
“Comet”, she was a complete failure ! leave The Broomielaw on Tuesdays, Thursdays and
Saturdays about mid-Day,
So we turn to another 25-ton “Comet”, Henry Bell’s or such hour thereafter as may answer from the state of the
Clyde “Comet”, built in 1811, the same year as the 371- tide
ton Mississippi steamer “New Orleans”, to the first ‘Clyde and to leave Greenock on Mondays, Wednesdays and
Steamers’. Fridays in the morning to suit the tide.

“Comet” The elegance, safety, comfort and speed of this vessel

require only to be seen to meet the approbation of the public
In 1800 and 1803, Henry Bell, a house-carpenter by trade, and the proprietor is determined to do everything in his
who had experience too of engineering and ship-modelling, power to merit general support.
laid plans before The Admiralty which showed the
practicability of steam-power in ships. “If you do not adopt The terms are, for the present, fixed at 4/- for the best
Mr Bell’s scheme, other nations will and, in the end, vex cabin and 3/- for the second but beyond these terms,
every vein of this Empire,” asserted Lord Nelson. The Lords nothing is to be allowed to servants or any person employed
were unimpressed ! Luckily for Britain, neither were the on the vessel.
Americans nor indeed any of the others that Bell approached
and, in 1811, he ordered his own steamboat ! “Comet”, The subscriber continues his establishment at Helensburgh
with her 25-foot high funnel, fitted too with a small square- Baths, the same for years past and a vessel will be in
sail, was 43’ 6” long, 11’ 4” beam and 5’ 8” in depth. Bell readiness to convey passengers by the “Comet” from
fitted her with a single 12½” x 16” cylinder engine driving Greenock to Helensburgh.
two paddle-wheels on each side of the hull - the engine was
not specifically designed for the ship but was rather a stock Passengers by the “Comet” will receive information of the
design intended for other general stationary purposes. At hours of sailing by applying at Mr Houston’s office,
24½ tons, her 3 horsepower engine was not a great success Broomielaw or to Mr Thomas Blackney’s office, East Quay
! She was withdrawn, fitted with a 4-hp engine and her Head, Greenock.
paddle wheel arrangement altered at a cost of £365. Henry Bell, Helensburgh Baths 5th August, 1812.

On August 14, 1812, Bell’s advertisement appeared in “The In the event, the “Comet”, her draught being 4-feet and
Glasgow Chronicle”. then too deep for The Clyde at low tide, ran somewhat
irregularly and by September, just a month after the
advertisement, was to be found setting up a new service This idea of children counting as ‘½ passengers’ was actually
from Glasgow to Tarbert and Fort William, via the Crinan practised as late as the end of the 1960’s, much to the
Canal. She was transferred to Grangemouth for a few years consternation of Captain Archie Downie from Campbeltown
but returned to The Clyde in 1819 and then was driven who asked ‘an unconcerned assistant purser’( ! ) “How
ashore and wrecked near Crinan on December 13, 1820. many ? ” The number by then on board the ship was, by the
“ ½ rule”, still below the maximum allowed but, “ ½ ‘s”
A second “Comet” was built in 1821, one of the counted as “1’s”, was well, well over the permitted
shareholders was Neil Malcolm of Poltalloch, at complement !
Lochgilphead, who subscribed £50. So seemingly too did his
wife who, like her husband, very trustingly left the cash in Bell also proposed that all crews should be certificated and
Henry Bell’s own hands ! Bell too was financially “that two lights, one at the bow and one at the mast-head,
embarrassed at the time and one report has it that Bell had be put up one hour after sunset and an alarm bell and
never settled accounts for the first “Comet” ! The new speaking trumpet be connected with the engine-room”.
“Comet” was run down and sunk off Gourock by the “Ayr”
on October 21, 1825 ! She took less than three minutes to Further, “that all steam-boats meeting each other should
sink and seventy passengers were drowned. give way to the larboard side and all steamboats, when
overtaken by a swifter ship, should do the same and allow
Amongst her passengers was Jane Munro who, thanks to the the swifter vessel to pass on their starboard side by stopping
efforts of a dog, their engines as soon as the overtaking vessel came within
was saved and the faithful animal remained by her insensible thirty-feet of their stern.”
body after it was recovered, unwittingly however, the
rescuers drove the dog away and, despite Jane’s later Although Henry Bell’s enterprises with steamboats finished
strenuous efforts to find her friend, the dog was never seen with the loss of the “Comet (II)”, a subscription was raised
again. for him and The Clyde Trustees also bestowed on him an
annuity of £100 per year, this continued to his widow when
The “Comet” was subsequently raised, from a depth of he died at Helensburgh in November 1830.
100-feet of water and, rigged as a sailing ship, traded
around the coasts till 1876. Four days after the disaster to Just seven months after the first “Comet” a competitor, the
the second “Comet”, Henry Bell wrote to “The Glasgow 30-ton “Elizabeth”, appeared on the river. Whereas the
Free Press” newspaper with proposals for licensing “Comet” had offered but a small after cabin furnished with a
steamboats, as were stage coaches too in these days. plain deal table and surrounded by plain deal seats, the new
ship had fore and aft cabins, the aft cabin 21-feet long and
“That all steam vessels at or under 20-horsepower be 11’ 3” wide at the forward end and 9’ 4” wide at its after end,
restricted not to carry more than 40 passengers - children with 7’ 4” headroom.
from 6 to 12 years of age counting as one ‘½ passenger’ ;
steamboats of more than 20-horsepower to be at liberty to There were seats all round the cabin, the deck floor was
carry one extra passenger for each horsepower in excess and carpeted, there was a comfortable sofa and the six sliding
each passenger allowed to carry 56 lbs of luggage. windows on each side had maroon curtains with tasselled
fringes and gilt ornamentation. The fore cabin of the
“Elizabeth”, 11’ 6” long by 9’ 6” wide, although not so well horse-power, per hour, about two-thirds the consumption of
furnished, was a tolerably comfortable retreat in cold or wet stationary engines.
The very early steamboats were shallow-drafted and pretty
In every successive steamer thereafter, the bid for basic in their hull design. There was little data available to
passengers would be accompanied by improvements in help the first pioneers get their calculations right and a brief
accommodation and facilities. over-view of the mathematical principles employed in getting
their boats steaming may be of interest at this point.
The “Elizabeth” was the first ship to have a specially built
steam engine. Such was the strength and rapid growth of Unless massive amounts of horsepower are used, the
competition on The Clyde that she was forced out of business maximum speed of any ship is 1.4 times the square root of
by 1815 and, under her own steam, transferred to Liverpool the waterline length of the ship’s hull, a fact of little interest
making her the first steamship to sail in Manx waters and the to the early steamboat builders and engineers !
first steamship to sail on The Mersey.
The first consideration was to calculate the drag of the ship.
Horse Power and Paddle Wheels This is defined as the water pressure on the wetted surface
area of the hull, multiplied by the drag coefficient for which
Different values have been given to the power of a horse. factor elementary tables had been presented in the 1790’s
The standard generally adopted is that a horse can raise a by Mark Beaufoy - his tables were in fact more
weight of 33,000 lbs at the rate of one foot per minute, demonstrative than accurate. In other words, one had to
thus 1 horse-power, the standard applied to steam engines - calculate the water’s resistance against the ship’s
In fact, the medium power of a horse is rated as raising movement.
22,000 lbs by one foot per minute - A horse was reckoned
to draw 200 lbs, over a pulley, at a continuous rate of 2½ Secondly, one had to calculate the ‘paddle power’
miles per hour. necessary to overcome the water resistance and the engine
power necessary to power the paddles. And, thirdly, one
On a railway, one horsepower is considered equal to had to calculate the size of the paddles necessary to move
transporting a load of 400 tons, 1 mile, in 1 day. the boat at a given speed.

The evaporation of a cubic inch of water, when converted The early steamboats, after the “Comet”, were a bit more
into steam, affords a mechanical force capable of raising one than 100-feet in length. For purposes of following the
ton to a height of one foot. Fifteen cubic inches of water, principles outlined here, let us take the example of a ship
converted into steam are equal to the power of one horse per around 120-feet or so in overall length which has angled
minute, 900 cubic inches of water, per hour, per horse- bows and stern so that the wetted surface area of the hull is
power. approximately 100-feet in length by about 2-feet in draft by
about 15-feet or so broad and let us say the area totals 3,048
To evaporate this water, from 7 to 12 lbs of fuel are required square feet.
in the same time, one hour but, in marine engines, the
quantity of fuel consumed was reckoned to be about 8 lbs per
Water pressure is the force in pounds per square inch on an ship’s 916 lbs ‘drag’ is thus 916 lbs divided by Beaufoy’s
area of 1 square foot caused by water with a mass density of factor of 51.95 lbs = 17.63 square feet, the area for each
62.4 lbs per cubic foot divided by the acceleration of gravity, paddle float.
32.2 feet per second and thus,
Paddle-wheels, like car wheels, run the full distance over the
½ (62.4 ÷ 32.2) = 0.97. ground and given the area of the paddle-floats, here about 18
square feet, or about 6-feet long by about 3-feet wide,
Assume needing to achieve 4 miles per hour, 5.87 feet per these would attach quite comfortably to a 14-foot diameter
second and the sum now takes that rate of 5.87 feet per paddle wheel, giving each revolution, 3.14 times 14-feet
second and squares it diameter, equalling 44-feet of circumference. At 16
revolutions per minute, 704-feet per minute and thus 8 miles
i.e. 5.87 x 5.87 = 34.4569 which one multiplies by the in every hour.
previous result
0.97 x 34.4569 = 33.423193 which answer is now in So, in theory, a 120-foot ship could be powered by a 20
lbs per square foot. horsepower engine and make at least 4 miles per hour with
14-foot diameter paddle-wheels. There were significant
The wetted surface area, 3,048 square feet, is now losses in transferring cylinder power to the paddle wheels
multiplied by the previous answer, 33.4 lbs per square foot and engines were necessarily over-powered to compensate.
i.e. 3,048 x 33.4 = 101,803.2 and in turn, from the primitive
Beaufoy ‘drag’ coefficient tables, by 0.009 giving a result of Thus to a simple formula
916 lbs being the drag of the ship.
(H)orse (P)ower = P x L x A x N
Paddle wheels are essentially ‘reversed’ under-shot mill 33,000
wheels, they have only half the power capability of over-shot P = Pressure ( in pounds per square inch)
wheels, those where the water pushes the wheel down. which equals atmospheric pressure minus partial
Having only half the power, the next calculation simply vacuum
doubles the necessary wheel speed from 4 to 8 miles per L = Length of piston stroke (this is the total length
hour, 704-feet per minute ! down and up again)
A = Piston Head Area measured in square inches
The necessary paddle power is thus the ship’s drag, 916 lbs, i.e. (3.14 times diameter times diameter)
times the speed, 704-feet per minute, divided by the divided by 4
‘standard’ 33,000 lb ‘horse-power’ factor which gives an N = Number of piston strokes per minute
answer of 19.5 horse-power necessary to drive the paddle-
wheels. The formula is generally applied to steam engines with a
working pressure of up to 7 lbs/square inches above
Beaufoy’s primitive tables are again used to calculate the atmosphere and as pressures increased this Nominal Horse
size of the paddles. It takes, according to Beaufoy, 51.95 lbs Power (NHP) formula became more diverse, Lloyd’s Register
of thrust to move a 1-foot square plate against water of Ships’ and The Admiralty working with different formulae,
pressure. The total paddle area needed here to thrust the The Admiralty NHP figure giving about 1/6th of the Indicated
Horse Power (IHP) and Lloyd’s almost unrelated to IHP, it Tug Design”. Propellor design is based on an estimate of the
taking no account of steam pressure or engine revolutions. required diameter, pitch, the necessary number of blades
The end of NHP as an effective measure was brought about and their areas. From this information and an estimate of the
by the introduction of the steam turbine and then the internal required DHP, the thrust and torque for the propellor can be
combustion engine. calculated and the bollard pull found, usually around 97% of
this thrust figure.
There are five different types of ‘horse power’ - Effective
Horse Power (EHP) is that required to tow a bare hull, one The basic parts of a steam engine are thus - the fuel
without propellors, propellor shaft brackets or rudder(s), system, the water-feed system, the boiler and
through the water. Indicated Horse Power (IHP), taken from condenser, the cylinders or turbine and the coupled
a diagram, the ‘indicator’ being screwed into a working shafts - to the paddle-wheels or propellor(s).
engine cylinder and recording the changing pressure/vacuum
and the results drawn by an inked pointer on to a paper card, Although a successful six-month oil fuel trial had been carried
is therefore the power developed within the cylinder of a out in the summer of 1893 on the three-year old
steam reciprocating engine. “Caledonia” and MacBrayne’s had converted the then
three-funnelled “Saint Columba” to oil-firing in 1937, it
Shaft Horse Power (SHP) is the power transmitted by the was only in the 1950’s that the remaining steamers changed
propellor or drive shaft after deducting frictional losses in the over from coal to oil fuel, no doubt to the great relief of all
engine, thrust block and shaft bearings and in marine who laboured in the stoke-holds of the steamers.
turbines is the only method by which power can be
measured, a calibrated torsion meter being attached to the Both the ex-River Dart paddle steamer “Kingswear
propellor shaft(s). In steam reciprocating engines, the SHP is Castle”, operating on the Medway and the ex-Admiralty
about 85% of IHP. ‘puffer’ “VIC 32”, based on the Crinan Canal, are coal-fired
and offer opportunities for enthusiasts to ‘try their own hand’
Brake Horse Power (BHP) is the power delivered from at stoking their boilers.
internal combustion engines at the crank shaft output
coupling and, while closely approximating SHP, may be Puffer, Ahoy ! - The supreme marine achievement of
likened to IHP less friction and other estimated power taken man’s invention !
off by auxiliaries.
Amongst the host of small cargo-carrying Clyde sailing craft
Delivered Horse Power (DHP) is the power actually delivered were the gabbarts, some schooners but most ketches of
to the propellor shaft(s) after deduction of all losses and is about 50 registered tons, 60-feet long, 15 to 17-feet in beam
about 98% of SHP. DHP is used in the calculation of propellor and about 7 to 9-feet in depth.
design. While Continental HP is equivalent to 75 kpm/s
(kilopond metres per second) = 0.7355 KW, British HP = Their shallow draft, flat-bottomed hulls, suitable for
0.746 KW. grounding on beaches where they could discharge their
cargoes, were full-bodied with a good sheer, had generally
For anyone interested in the criteria for propellors, especially rounded, though some were square, short counter sterns
for tugs and fishing boats, a useful text is Caldwell’s “Screw and outside rudders and all of a size able to fit the locks on
The Forth and Clyde Canal. All were cutter-rigged with gaff fire on the other half of the grate and the amount of black
main and topsails, jib and staysail. smoke coming from the funnel would be minimised. By this
procedure, twelve shovels would be added to the fire every
More than fifty years had passed since the “Charlotte 30 minutes or so and, in the course of an average summer
Dundas” had shown the viability of steam-power on the day’s ‘dawn-to-dusk’ run, the boiler fire would consume
canal, a technical success which was not then followed about ¾ ton of coal, boiler’s ash-pan being emptied, thanks
through by the canal proprietors who feared the effect of the to the slow build up of steam coal ash, perhaps every other
steamer’s wash on the canal banks. Now, in 1856, James day and all the while, in between stokings, the engineer too
Milne, the canal engineer, fitted a twin cylinder, 10” stroke would be constantly, lubricating the constantly turning
and 6½” bore, atmospheric engine, powered by a 3’ machinery of the main engine, running about 138 r.p.m. on a
diameter boiler working at 35 lbs pressure, into the puffer at about 6 knots and too lubricating all the auxiliary
“Thomas”, a ‘standard’ canal barge at a cost of £320. equipment !

With a four-foot pitch ‘screw’ and the engine turning at 130 The Basic Arrangement of the Fuel Burning System -
revolutions per minute, the “Thomas”, capable of carrying As the temperature of heavy ‘boiler’ oil must be raised before
some 70 or 80 tons of cargo, was able to do some 5 mph it will ignite, other means are used to start raising steam
and ‘the puffer’ was born, her atmospheric engine ‘puffing’ from cold. Though in the old days a small coal fire would
merrily along exhausting steam directly into the atmosphere have been lit to start the boiler - coke, instead of coal,
and sky ! being used if the boiler was still warm from the previous day,
nowadays, a gravity fed supply of ‘light’ diesel oil will be led
Stoking The Fires to start the boiler fire(s) - lit of course by applying an
ordinary household match to an oil-soaked rag.
While cold boilers must be warmed through very slowly to
avoid damage to the plates and joints, that taking anything As steam temperatures and pressures rose, steam was run
from 24 to 48 hours, an already warm boiler, its fire banked, into the heating coils in the oil fuel bunker storage
the ashpan and funnel dampers closed overnight, can quickly tanks to allow the cold fuel oil to be pumped, through a
raise steam to working pressure in a couple of hours or so if suction filter to remove grit and heavy impurities, to a
necessary. fuel heater, externally heated by steam, which raised the
temperature of the fuel oil to some 20° or 30° lower than its
In the case of these small steamers and the like of the old ‘flash point’ i.e. its ignition point (about 190° F) and the fuel
steam fishing drifters, the general practice was to rake one oil, after possibly being passed through the fuel heater
half of the grate clear of any clinker and, halving spread the several times to raise its temperature sufficiently, then being
remaining glowing coals evenly out again, cover these with pumped, at somewhere between 100-150 p.s.i. (pounds per
half-a-dozen shovels of fresh coal. Five minutes later and the square inch), to the boiler’s oil burners, the number of
fresh coals now lit, these would all be raked down evenly burners varied according to the size and type of boiler and
and, after another ten or so minutes, with the fire now the burners, about 18 inches long and 1½ inches in
burning clearly, the process repeated on the other half of the diameter, are quickly changed, from diesel to boiler oil,
fire-grate, the idea being that the smoke and gases from the using a vice-grip and spanner.
freshly shovelled coal would be burnt by the fierce and clear
The steam heating the bunker heating coils and the fuel temperature to between perhaps 90° and 110° F and the
heater passed through a windowed inspection tank which hotwell then raising the water temperature to perhaps some
allowed a visual inspection to ensure that no fuel oil had 150° F before returning the water to the water feed
entered the water system (and consequently the steam heaters to be heated up again for the boiler(s) etc. again at
itself) that might be fed to the main boiler, the now rapidly around 200° F.
condensing ‘heating steam’ then returned to the main water
feed system. While steam acts against all sides of cylinders equally, both
temperature and pressure drop. A drop in temperature
The Water Feed System - circulates and tops up the means, essentially, that ‘work’ is lost. By dividing the
water supplies to the main boiler(s) and water feed temperature drop between a number of cylinders,
heaters, these operating in the same fashion as the oil fuel condensation losses are proportionately decreased, cylinder
heater (above) and raising the temperature of the water cooling is minimised and the advantages of pressures are
before it reaches the boiler(s) ! Previously heated water maximised.
reduces internal stresses on the boiler(s), gives easier
steaming and reduces fuel consumption and thus water Understanding that 1 p.s.i. (pound per square inch) equals
might enter the water feed heaters at between 140° and about 2” (inches) of vacuum and that barometric
150° F and leave, on its road to the boiler at 200° F. pressure at sea level is about 30” (inches) may make it
easier to follow the workings of the engine as the engine
The Boiler - The greater the contact that the water has gauge readings indicate pressures relative to the
with the heat from a fire, the faster the water will evaporate prevailing ‘atmospheric’ pressures !
to make steam and, for that very reason, many tubes run
through, often several times through, boilers and chambers If there was no vacuum e.g. if the barometric pressure
before the steam eventually reaches the engine(s). was 30” (inches) and the vacuum gauge was reading 15
p.s.i., it being remembered that 1 p.s.i. equals about 2”
The Condenser - takes all the surplus and previously used (inches) of vacuum, the engine would of course slow down
steam from the main and auxiliary engines, the steam then as the engine is essentially an ‘atmospheric engine’ and
being passed many times over the condenser tubes, these consequently the vacuum gauge should always read lower
salt water filled and supplied constantly with sea water by than the ‘outside’ barometric pressure if the engine is
means of a circulating pump. The condensed steam, now expected to work !
again water and any air and vapour removed from the
condenser by an air pump which discharges to the outside And so to The Engine(s) - The likely sequence of events in
atmosphere, is in turn filtered and fed to the hotwell - an the case of a triple expansion engine, given that the
intermediary point in the water feed system which, as boiler is supplying steam to the throttle at say 180 p.s.i.
previously described, again begins to heat the water in the (pound per square inch), would be that the high pressure
water feed heaters. cylinder (usually the middle cylinder of the engine) would
receive at a slightly reduced pressure, perhaps about 170
Of the various water temperatures, given the boiler at p.s.i., the exhausted steam from the high pressure
say 212° F, then the return to the condenser at about cylinder being fed to the medium pressure cylinder, at
126° F, the air pump then further reducing the water perhaps between 58 and 60 p.s.i. and, in turn, this
exhausted steam being fed to the low pressure cylinder on the paddle-floats had caused the engine to reverse and
at about 1 or 2 p.s.i. and the steam then returned to the the ship came off the river-bank.
condenser (and, in turn, as hot water) to the water feed
system etc. etc.. Watt instantly grasped what had happened and, unable to
make the ship’s engineer understand the theory of what had
Pressure relief valves and drains are fitted on the ends of happened, Watt threw off his coat and putting his hand to
the cylinders, the drains being opened and shut from the the engine’s controls showed the engineer how to make the
engine control platform. ship go astern and thus, the first intentional reversing of a
marine engine occurred at Rothesay Pier ! Watt’s discovery
While the high pressure steam from the drain on the high was momentous and from then on ships were able to come
pressure cylinder would, eventually, damage the tubes of alongside piers with ‘precision and promptitude’ !
the condenser, the high pressure steam is led away to the Next and to the right of the ‘Direction Lever’ , lie the
bilges, the drains from the medium and low pressure three ‘Drain Levers’, from left-to-right, for ‘Low’ - ‘High’
cylinders return direct to the condenser. and ‘Medium’ pressure cylinders, the drains being ‘shut’
with the lever(s) pushed forward and ‘open’ with the
Though the drains might be used when slowly warming lever(s) pulled back.
through the engine before sailing, the drains would only be
opened in the most exceptional circumstances when the The engine’s ‘Regulating Throttle’ is the outer lever, set
engine was running. to the engineer’s right hand, the lever being ‘notched’
forwards to admit steam from the boiler to the engine, the
The Engine Controls - consist simply of 6 levers set in a narrower-spaced ‘notches’ being for ‘manoeuvring’ alongside
frame, the ‘valve settings’ for going ‘Ahead’ or ‘Astern’ are piers at low speeds and the wider-spaced ‘notches’ coming
controlled by the ‘Direction Lever’, centred at ‘Stop’ and into use as the speed of the engine is increased once clear of
being pushed forward for ‘Ahead’ or pulled back for ‘Astern’, the piers.
set to the engineer’s left hand. Though it seems needless to
state that the ‘Regulating Throttle’ (below) should be shut In the old, particularly single-cylinder single-cranked, paddle
before the position of the ‘Direction Lever’ is changed, steamers, if the crank was ‘centred’, it had to be manually
one of the ‘engineers’ on Loch Lomond’s “Maid of The ‘jacked over’ using a large crow-bar to get the engine
Loch” regularly ignored ‘the obvious’ and his handling of started, a great handicap when manoeuvring at piers !
her engine (and indeed her boiler) caused great expense to
the company. On ‘modern’ paddle steamers, e.g. in the case of a three
crank triple expansion ship such as the “Waverley”, a
In 1816, when James Watt made his final trip home to ‘Starting Steam Lever’ is fitted immediately to the left of
Scotland, he had taken a trip to Rothesay on the the ‘Regulating Throttle’. This is operated briefly if the
“Dumbarton Castle” and, in a conversation with the ship’s (centre) high pressure cylinder crank is ‘centred’ (lying)
engineer and was told that on the previous evening the ship above or below the main crankshaft connecting the engine
had run aground on the river-bank while going up-river home. to the paddle wheels.
Fortunately, as the tide flooded, the pressure of the current By briefly operating the ‘Starting Steam Lever’, steam is
admitted to the medium and low pressure cylinders and, as
the three engine cylinder cranks are fitted to oppose each about 25 p.s.i..
other at 120° angles, the high pressure cylinder crank is
therefore ‘jacked over’ and the engine started. Finally and vitally to The Engine Room Telegraph(s) -
their ‘face-plate’ orders being marked sequentially “Full
Where there is constant manoeuvring at piers, the Astern” - “Half Astern” - “Slow Astern” - “Dead Slow Astern” -
engine’s expansion gear keeps the engine’s valve stroke “Finished With Engines” - “STOP” - “Stand By” - “Dead Slow
travel equal to the throw of the eccentrics on the main shaft Ahead” - “Slow Ahead” - “Half Ahead” and “Full Ahead”.
and, e.g. on ‘slow cruises’, the expansion gear can be
‘linked in’ so that total engine power is reduced, engine The first ‘telegraphs’ were fitted to the 1864-built “Iona
revolutions decreased and fuel consumption lowered. The (III)” in 1873, that year she too becoming the first Clyde
engine’s high pressure expansion gear is frequently steamer to be fitted with steam steering gear. Denny’s first
‘linked in’ on coastal passages. iron-built steamer, the 1845-built “Loch Lomond”, had
been fitted with a ‘knocking contrivance’, a rack-pin system
Conversely, by ‘linking out’ the expansion gear, the fitted below the bridge to the engine room hatch, which put
engine’s valve stroke travel becomes greater and total an end to the practice of shouting orders to the engineers.
power and engine revolutions are increased, as are speed
and fuel consumption ! Ship Handling Principles

The Main Steam and Engine Gauges are set in front of Because of their ‘fixed’ paddle-wheels, only being able to go
the engineer and unfortunately, as in the case of the ‘forward-or- backwards’, paddle steamers have to put their
“Waverley”, out of the direct view of passengers. helm over and swing their bow slightly out as they come
alongside piers. As the bow of the ship comes across the end
The typical array of gauges (and their typical Working of a pier, the heaving line for the bow rope is thrown to the
Readings), from left-to-right, are for waiting piermen and then, as the ship’s bow begins to swing
‘Auxiliary Steam’, ranging from 0 - 350 p.s.i. (180 out, it following that the after part of the ship and the stern
p.s.i.); are then being brought ever closer to the pier, the heaving
‘Auxiliary Exhaust’, ranging from 0 - 50 p.s.i. (10 lines for the stern, then ‘waist’, ropes can then be more
p.s.i.); easily caught by the piermen.
‘Main Steam’, ranging from 0 - 350 p.s.i. (180
p.s.i.); For manoeuvring purposes, it is perhaps useful to think of all
‘Low Pressure Cylinder’, ranging from 0 - 50 p.s.i. twin and indeed triple screw ships as single-screw ships until
(1 p.s.i.); their engines are all driving in the same direction and the
‘High Pressure Cylinder’, ranging from 0 - 350 p.s.i. following little bit of theory should therefore be of interest to
(170 p.s.i.); anyone ignorant of the general principles of steering and
‘Medium Pressure Cylinder’, ranging from 0 - 150 controlling screw driven vessels, pleasure steamers and
p.s.i. (60 p.s.i.) motorboats alike.
and ‘Vacuum’, there being gauges for both main and
auxiliary steam and both gauges these ranging from 0 - 30 The first effect of ‘putting the helm over’, trying to change
p.s.i. and both, for the reasons set out before, likely to read direction, when the ship or boat is going ahead, is that the
bow actually goes off in the opposite direction to that in starboard engine may be of interest.
which one wants the ship to go and it takes two or three ship
lengths along the original course before she will start to turn. It has the effect that, the engine going astern from rest, the
ship’s stern will go immediately to port even with a full
By this time, the ship’s bow will have turned about three starboard rudder on and the ship will only begin to go to
‘points’, about 30 degrees, towards the new course, the starboard as she gathers way, given a full port rudder, from
stern of the ship continuing to drag round for a further two or rest and going astern, the ship’s stern will be thrown rapidly
three ship lengths along the original course before it finally port.
follows the ship’s bow.
There is a widespread ignorance of the effect on a ship’s
In theory, if a danger ‘dead ahead’ has to be avoided, one steering when her engine(s) are suddenly reversed while the
must alter course at least some six ship lengths before it in ship is going ahead and the assumption that the ship will
order that it is cleared. Two ships on potentially colliding continue to answer her helm in the usual way as she
courses must alter their courses ‘timeously’ indeed and, continues to forge ahead, her propellor(s) in reverse and
although one may gain a few extra seconds by easing down gradually slowing her down, is indeed not the case as new
the ships’ speeds before any potential collision (and of course forces affect the rudder and the afterbody of the ship from
somewhat lessening the force of any impact), it should be the very moment when her engine(s) is/are reversed.
clearly understood that the speed at which the ship is Following the case of right-turning (ahead) starboard engine,
travelling, when her course is changed, does not greatly the ship’s rudder kept ‘amidships’ and the starboard engine
affect the distance along her original course which she will suddenly reversed, from full ahead to full astern, the ship’s
take before actually turning off on to her new course and head will fall off immediately to starboard and the ship will
clearing her original course ! gain ground and begin to slide ‘to the right’.
If the helm of a ship is put hard over to port as her starboard
High speed e.g. in a small motor yacht may be helpful but engine is suddenly reversed, from full ahead to full astern,
her hull will still slide along her original course, as above and the ship’s head will usually, but not very rapidly nor very far,
‘over-steering’ may actually even force her further into go to port but will then begin to swing to starboard and the
danger till she clears her old course. ship’s head, her rudder still ‘hard-a-port’, will fall off more or
less to starboard.
The effect of the ship’s propellor(s) is as important as the
effect of her rudder(s). Apart from MacBrayne’s first ever But, if the helm of a ship is put hard over to starboard as
twin-screw steamer, the 1878-built “Flowerdale”, which her starboard engine is suddenly reversed, from full ahead
very unusually had inward-turning propellors, all the other to full astern, the ship’s head will go to starboard and then,
Clyde and West Highland twin-screw ships had their more often than not, will swing to port ! The slower the ship
propellors outward-turning when going ahead, the starboard or boat is going ahead and the faster the propellor is going
engine turning right and the port engine turning left when astern, the more likely it is that her head will swing to port !
going ahead. In the case of the ship going astern, her starboard, right-
turning, engine going ahead and her helm ‘amidships’, the
The converse happening in the case of a left-turning port ship’s stern should move to starboard but there is no
engine, the following explanation of the right-turning guarantee that her head may actually set to pay off in one
direction rather than the other !
‘Docking Telegraphs’
In the same situation, the ship going astern, her starboard
engine going ahead and her helm put ‘hard-a-starboard’, it On the paddle steamers, orders were transmitted to the
will be found that her stern will go very decidedly to port. ‘waist ropemen’, located at main deck level on the after end
With her helm ‘hard-a-port’, her stern, most commonly, of the paddle-wheel sponsons, by means of a series of bell
would be likely to go to starboard. signals operated from the ‘Docking Telegraphs’ on the
bridge wings - 1 bell, “Throw Line”, the heaving-line itself
A ship or boat has a right-handed (ahead) propellor can normally being usually thrown after the stern heaving line
always turn easily and rapidly to starboard in a confined and both being thrown by a seaman immediately above the
space, turning to port taking more space and time. waist ropeman from the upper deck of the sponson; 2 bells,
“Make Fast”; 3 bells, “Slack Away” and 4 bells, “Let Go”,
In coming alongside a pier (or another ship), it is indeed bad all these signals too being audible to the engineer on the
seamanship to make the mistake of keeping too much speed near-by engine control platform.
on and then relying on the engine(s) going full astern to bring
the ship to a stop at the appropriate point. The engines (and The ship’s fore and aft ‘Docking Telegraphs’, these
the engineers) may fail to act promptly and the suddeness of operated from the bridge wings, also had ‘answering
going astern throws an undue strain on the machinery handles’ ringing back acknowledgements from bow and
(especially the crankshafts) and the ship’s rudder fastenings stern, their ‘face plates’ sequentially reading, from ‘port-to-
and the sudden going astern throws the ship suddenly to one starboard’, “Make Fast”, “Come On Deck”, “Haul In”,
side or another according to the ‘handedness’ of the “Throw Line”, “Hold On”, “ALL CLEAR”, “Stand By”, “Slack
propellor(s). Away”, Look Out for Fender”, “Slow” and “Let Go”.

In a tideway too, particular care must be taken not to catch The first ‘Docking Telegraphs’, simply an adaptation of the
the tide on the ‘off’ bow as it may actually push the bow into engine-telegraphs, were installed on the 1889 “Caledonia
and under the pier or against the other ship. (I)”, she built by John Reid, grand-nephew of the builder of
Changes in water density can catch the unwary and the the first “Comet (I)”, at Port Glasgow and the
“Maid of Cumbrae” crashed expensively into Gourock Pier complementary ‘bell-system’ to the paddle steamer ‘waist
because of a hidden fresh water outfall between the regular ropemen’ on the sponsons was essentially just a variation on
pier berths. the old ‘knocker’ system used before the introduction of the
engine-room telegraphs.
Another ‘Maid’ skipper demonstrated the effect of the ‘fresh
water phenomenon’ one winter night coming up the coast
from Largs to Wemyss Bay, heavy rain having put the burn
at Manor Park Hotel into spate and the helmsman of the Bow Rudders
‘Maid’ being able to spin the wheel from ‘hard-a-port’ to
‘hard-a-starboard’ without there being any effect on the In the cases of the “Duchess of Hamilton”, “Queen
direction of the ship’s heading till we re-entered near 100% Mary/II” and the paddle steamer “Jeanie Deans”, she too
salt water again. being fitted with a bow rudder after taking up her somewhat
short-lived service on The Thames as the “Queen of The telegraphs once clear of piers, this was not done on the
South”, the forward bow ‘Docking Telegraph’ was used Clyde ships, mainly because of the frequently short time
to give orders to the helmsman steering the ship astern from intervals between pier calls.
the bow, their vision aft being totally obscured by the ships’ Paddle Wheels, ‘Floats’ and Shafts
superstructures and funnels.
In the early years of the first steamers, these frequently
On these occasions, with two black balls hung vertically from racing each other to beat their rivals to the next pier and
the cross-trees on one of the ships’ masts, the orders on the often manned by incompetent engineers and masters, there
aft-facing ‘face-plate’ forward ‘Docking Telegraph’ were often problems with the steel paddle main shafts
translated “ALL CLEAR” as “Midships”; “Make Fast”, on the cracking and fracturing, the initial steel strength
port side of the telegraph, as “Hard-a-Starboard’ and, deteriorating quickly through crystallisation brought about by
conversely “Let Go”, on the starboard side of the telegraph the shafts’ vibrations and not helped by the persuasion of
as “Hard-a-Port”, each division of the telegraph ‘face-plate’ many engineers to suddenly try and put the engines astern
corresponding to the application of about 15° of rudder. without waiting for the engine (and the paddle wheels) to
properly stop their ahead movement.
Turbines, Twin-Screws and Telegraphs
Of paddle wheels themselves, the ‘floats’ fitted to the early
While the paddle steamers were all fitted with ‘double- and sea-going steamers, such as those crossing The Atlantic,
handled’ Engine Room Telegraphs, the handles locked were ‘fixed’ and then, in 1829, one Elijah Galloway invented
and thus moving simultaneously on command and there the ‘feathering’ paddle-floats, these ‘moveable floats’,
being no ‘answering handles’ for the engineers to pivoting on bearings on the radial arms and actuated by rods
acknowledge or confirm orders from and to the bridge, the fixed to bearings on the outside of the paddle wheel to allow
turbines and motor-ships were all fitted with ‘answering each float to enter the water at an acute angle and immerse
telegraphs’ rung back by the engineers as the bridge orders properly in the water as the wheel turned, an arrangement
were implemented. which not only increased speed but also reduced the ship’s
wash which could damage shorelines and river banks. While
For manoeuvring purposes, the turbines, even with three most shipowners, thinking it better for ‘shock distribution’,
propellor shafts, were treated as twin-screw ships - the first opted for eight ‘floats’ on each paddle wheel, the Gourock-
‘twin-screw’ ship was built by Captain John Stevens of based Caledonian Steam Packet Company ships generally
Phoenix, Arizona around 1804 - 1806. On the ‘triple-screw’ had but seven ‘floats’ per wheel, the ‘floats’ being often of
turbines, the centre ‘ahead-only’ turbine and propellor shaft elm, rather than steel as, should they hit any floating
being shut down by means of the main stop valve wheel and objects, they could break up (and be quickly replaced)
the outer ‘ahead’ and ‘stern’ turbines then opened and shut without causing any structural damage to the paddle wheels.
down as necessary by their own individual stop valves and,
the ship clearing away from the piers, the main stop valve The Clyde and other British coastal paddle steamers’ paddle
wheel was opened to the centre, high-pressure ‘ahead’ wheels were relatively small in comparison to the size of
turbine, it too then admitting steam to the two outer shaft those favoured for American side and stern-wheelers.
‘ahead’ turbines. While MacBrayne’s ships operated the Though being run on trial at nearly 59 revolutions per
deep-sea practice of giving a double “Full Ahead” ring on the minute, today’s “Waverley (IV)” rarely needs to exceed 44
r.p.m. to keep or catch up on her timetabled sailings, by of Clarke, Chapman, he was forced to design a completely
comparison, some of Russia’s river paddle ships, having new turbine system using ‘radial flow’ turbines.
even smaller paddle wheels, operate at 160 r.p.m. !
Steam Whistles The first of his new generators had an output of 350kW and
Arriving and departing from busy piers often necessitated soon he was producing turbo-generators with up to
using the ship’s ‘whistle’ - 1 blast, going to starboard 200,000kW outputs for power stations.
(right); 2 blasts, going to port (left) and 3 blasts indicating
that the ship was going astern. The first ever recorded ship’s Despite his interest in producing steam-powered electrical
steam whistle is noted to have been fitted in 1837 to the generators - the very first was installed in The Caledonian
“King Philip” operating on the Fall River in America. Steam Packet Company’s 1890-built “Duchess of
Hamilton” - Parsons decided to develop his steam turbine
The Turbine Steamers design further, as a marine propulsion unit.

The theory of turbines is, like Archimedes’ screw, ancient Gustaf de Laval, the Swedish engineer whose first turbine
but the practical harnessing of the idea is due to the patent had been granted in 1883, a year before Parsons own
Swedish-born Gustaf de Laval (1845-1913) and to Charles patent, had also secured a patent for ‘double helical
Algernon Parsons (1854-1931), a member of the Rosse reduction gears’ in 1889 and three years later, in 1892, he
family constructed reversing turbine developing some 15 h.p. and
of astronomical telescope fame from Parsonstown (now Birr) running at some 16,000 rpm, to this day a most remarkable
in Ireland. speed. Using his own reduction gears to drive a propellor at
around 330 rpm, Laval put a small launch on to the waters of
In 1881, after his time serving a ‘premium apprenticeship’ at Lake Mäleren in Sweden, this the first marine application of
Armstrong’s of Elswick on Tyneside, Charles Parsons joined the steam turbine.
Kitson & Company of Leeds, builders of railway locomotives Two years later, in 1894, Parsons, backed by a group of
for many overseas companies. There he invented and speculative investors launched the 100-foot long, 2,000 s.h.p.
developed the ‘epicycloidal’ steam engine and also 34-knot “Turbinia”, her 9-foot beam being little more that
experimented with ‘rocket-propelled’ torpedoes. that of an English canal narrow-boat. Today she is preserved
and on view to all at Newcastle’s Science Museum.
In 1884, he joined Clarke, Chapman at Gateshead as a
junior partner and took charge of their electrical department. “Turbinia” ran her first set of trials in late 1894 but the
His first problem was to design a steam driven ship’s lighting results were disappointing, the high speed of the main
set where the optimum dynamo speed was much in excess of propellor creating a vacuum behind its blades causing a
the top speed attainable by a steam reciprocating engine and considerable loss of power, this effect referred to as
his steam turbo-generator, with an output of 7.5kW was ‘cavitation’. To measure the torque on the shaft, created by
soon followed by larger and more powerful machines. From the turbine, Parsons designed the instrument we know today
this came Parsons’ 1884 patent giving birth to the steam as the ‘torsion meter’ and, thanks to this, he was then able
turbine. In 1889, Parsons severed his connections with to make great improvements to the design of high-speed
Clarke, Chapman and set up The Parsons Steam Turbine propellors.
Company and, because his earlier patents were in the name
Much to the annoyance of The Admiralty - and to the Considering the very experimental nature of the new venture
delight of many onlookers - the little “Turbinia” easily out- and not wanting to add further to its risks, Denny’s chose to
paced and ran rings round the Navy ships sent to chase her adhere to a hull model similar to that of the successful 1890-
as she ran through the lines of ships at the 1897 Fleet Review built paddle-steamer “Duchess of Hamilton” and it seems,
at Spithead and, as a consequence of such a very public that had the screw turbine experiment not been successful,
demonstration of the potential of turbine propulsion, The the turbine machinery could have been removed and the hull
Admiralty ordered the turbine driven destroyer “Viper” and then fitted with paddle machinery. The hull, costing £24,200,
then too took over another, being built “on spec”, which was 250.5-feet long, 30.1-feet in beam and, with a depth of
they named “Cobra”. Both were over-lightly built ships and 10-feet, had a draft of 6-feet. Parsons part of the work was
both came to grief. On August 3, 1901, the “Viper” ran estimated to cost £8,000 and a further £800 was to be
aground on Renonquet Reef, in The Channel Islands and was provided to cover the other miscellaneous start-up costs of
declared a total loss. Six weeks later, on September 17, the venture, a total of £33,000 divided equally amongst the
1901, the “Cobra” was seen to break in two in heavy seas three parties.
off Flamborough Head, never again would Navy ships be
named after snakes ! To fund his share of the venture, Captain John Williamson
obtained a loan of £2,500 from The National Bank of
Denny’s of Dumbarton, who too had built the famous Scotland, now The Royal Bank of Scotland and in turn, as
“Cutty Sark”, were enthusiastic about developing the noted in a Glasgow & South Western Railway Company
turbines for merchant ships as were Parsons and together minute of January 22, 1901, Williamson’s loan was
they approached the various railway companies looking for guaranteed by the railway company on condition, one that
contracts but the railway companies “affected a terrible too was included in The Turbine Syndicate’s own agreement,
amount of modesty, each anxious that somebody else should that the new ship was placed on the Fairlie - Campbeltown
make the first experiment” - then along came John service.
Williamson, in the background, The Glasgow & South
Western Railway Company itself barred from operating the The new ship, Denny’s Yard No. 651, was launched by Mrs
Campbeltown service but quite free to guarantee any loans Charles Parsons on Thursday, May 16, 1901. For the
that Williamson might need and so was born The Turbine machinery, Parson’s Engine No. 8, steam, at 150 lb per
Syndicate. square inch, was supplied by a conventional double-ended
boiler. The Navy ships “Viper” and “Cobra” had Yarrow’s
The “King Edward” water tube boilers but here, with no need for lightweight
construction and such high running speeds, the need was for
The members of The Turbine Syndicate - William Denny & fuel economy which involved a wider range of steam
Brothers, The Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company and expansions than in the two Navy ships.
Captain John Williamson - each contributed one-third of the
£33,000 cost of the new “King Edward”, the first Whereas steam might be expanded between eight and
instalment when the hull was framed, beamed, bulkheads in sixteen times in a contemporary triple expansion engine,
place and had all internal work rivetted; the second, when there were one hundred and twenty-five expansions in the
launched and the third and final payment made on delivery. turbines of the “King Edward”. The high-pressure steam,
driving the centre turbine, was expanded five times before
being exhausted into the low-pressure turbines driving the fastest run that day being 20.57 knots. Test tank calculations
outer shafts. estimated her to have 3,500 i.h.p..

There the steam was expanded a further twenty-five times Over the following years, there were numerous changes of
before being again exhausted, now into the condenser. The propellor configurations and extra endurance trials and a
separate astern turbines (turbines cannot be reversed due to further 34 double runs were carried out over the Skelmorlie
the curved formation of their blades) were fitted into the measured mile between June 1901 and April 1905, when at
casings of the outer ‘wing’ turbines - Early turbine ships last, the extra propellors on the outer shafts were finally
lacked any great power when going astern a deficiency removed.
remedied in later engine designs Buried amongst a maze of steampipes on the lower deck, b
e l o w the main deck, was the engineers’ control platform,
As no gearing was involved, the propellor shafts of the virtually out-of-sight of passengers.
“King Edward”, like that of the little “Turbinia”, turned at
extraordinarily high speeds and from the start it was When the main stop valve wheel was opened to the centre,
appreciated that the propellor surface area and the high high-pressure ‘ahead’ turbine, it too admitted steam to the
peripheral speed of the propellor tips would cause two outer shaft ‘ahead’ turbines. When manoeuvring, the
cavitational problems. The centre high-pressure shaft could, centre ‘ahead’ turbine was shut down by means of the main
in theory, turn at up to 700 rpm and the two outer low- stop valve wheel and the outer ‘ahead’ and ‘stern’ turbines
pressure shafts at up to 1,000 rpm and the outer shafts fitted then opened and shut down as necessary by their own
with an extra propellor thus making her effectively a ‘five- individual stop valves.
screw’ ship
The official trial trip of the “King Edward”, under the
Her first steam trial took place on Friday, June 14, 1901 and command of Captain Alex Fowler of The Glasgow & South
on the following Monday she reached a mean speed of 18.66 Western Railway Company’s “Glen Sannox”, took place on
knots in calm weather on a return run over the measured Friday, June 28, 1901, just a fortnight after she had first
mile at Skelmorlie before heading back up-river to Scott’s raised steam. A party of guests too having been ferried out
yard at Greenock where she was dry-docked for hull cleaning. to her off Craigendoran, she called at Dunoon, Rothesay,
A week later, on Monday, June 24, 1901, she ran a further Largs, Fairlie and then Lochranza where she found the
series of seven double runs over the Skelmorlie measured “Duchess of Hamilton”, on charter to The Institute of
mile, the best mean speed now 19.7 knots, still short of the Naval Architects, ready to race her down Kilbrannan Sound
expected 20 knots and so she was slipped the following day as she headed for Campbeltown. Needless to say, she had
at Inglis’ Pointhouse yards to change propellors. Now the 4’ no difficulty in overtaking her. Three days later she began
centre propellor was exchanged for one of 4’ 9” diameter, her first season to Campbeltown.
the two outer 2’ 10” propellors replaced by 3’ 4” propellors
and on Wednesday, June 26, 1901, again on the Skelmorlie With 50 crew and a capacity for 1,994 passengers, she left
measured mile, on a smooth sea and in a light breeze, she Greenock’s Prince’s Pier daily (except Sundays) at 8.40 a.m.,
reached a mean average of 20.48 knots with the centre shaft she called at Dunoon and Rothesay before picking up the
turning at 505 rpm and the outer shafts at 755 rpm, the Fairlie train connection at 10.20 a.m.. Proceeding direct to
Lochranza, where passengers could join horse-drawn
charàbancs for Brodick and connections to Ardrossan, she When the new steamer appeared at the start of the 1902
was timed to arrive in Campbeltown at 12.20 p.m.. Leaving season, the “King Edward” took up a new run sailing from
Campbeltown again, at about 3 p.m., her passengers could, Fairlie via the south and west of Bute to Ardrishaig where it
via Fairlie, be at St. Enoch’s Station in Glasgow at 6.18 p.m., became the custom for her German string band, held
a journey time little bettered a hundred years later by the superior to other steamer bands, to land with the
private motor car ! passengers and play through the village.

1901 too was the year of The Glasgow Exhibition and the Five steamers then were calling daily at Ardrishaig which
“King Edward” was back at Greenock’s Prince’s Pier in time itself had a splendid band of its own, that belonging to the
to do a two-hour ‘musical evening cruise’ with passengers Argyll and Bute Asylum, its members often being requested
leaving Glasgow St. Enoch at 6.05 p.m. and returning to to play on evening cruises from the village. With the
Glasgow at 10.25 p.m. - the success of these evening cruises increased traffic at Ardrishaig too that month, there were
led to them becoming an annual feature of her sailing rumours that an electric tramway was to be built between
programme. At the end of September, the “King Edward” Ardrishaig and Crinan, rumours that proved unfounded.
was laid up for the winter. Later, the “King Edward” extended her run to Inveraray,
the return trip still being through The Kyles of Bute - the
During the 1901 season, the “King Edward”, under her Ardrishaig call was dropped in 1908.
chief engineer H. Hall, had averaged 19 knots on the 160-
mile daily return run to Campbeltown and her average daily Much was made of the swiftness of the new “King Edward”
coal consumption, working out at 1.8 lbs per equivalent but, in the first week of July 1902, the “Columba”
indicated (i.h.p.) horse-power, had been about 18 tons per overhauled her one morning between Innellan and Rothesay
day. Chief Engineer Hall’s successor, a man called and would have got alongside Rothesay first but for the fact
Stuart/Stewart (?) who had been with the “King Edward” that she had to take the outside berth.
since her building - he retired to Skelmorlie in the 1930’s,
held that the average daily consumption was actually just 11 In February 1915, “King Edward” was requisitioned by The
- 12 tons of coal for the Campbeltown run and only when Admiralty and spent the next four years, based variously at
‘obliged to race other ships’ did she use 18 tons ! By way of Southampton, Dover and Folkestone and carrying troops to
direct comparison with the identically lengthed-hull paddler and from The Channel Islands, Le Havre, Rouen, Cherbourg,
“Duchess of Hamilton” which consumed a ton of coal per Dieppe, Calais and Boulogne. Later, as she was returning to
8.47 knots when travelling at 16 knots, the turbine-engined The Clyde after a spell of duty as an ambulance transport in
“King Edward” consumed a ton of coal per 8.87 knots when the White Sea, based at Archangel, she was nearly wrecked
travelling at 18 knots. in a ferocious storm.

In any event, everybody was happy, Williamson cleared his Reconditioned, she returned to the Campbeltown run in June
overdraft, formed a new company, Turbine Steamers Ltd., 1920, now, from Greenock and calling at Gourock and
bought the “King Edward” and now ordered a second Wemyss Bay as well as Fairlie and, with the exception of
turbine, the “Queen Alexandra (I)”. occasional trips to Inveraray, she remained on the
Campbeltown run until the end of the 1926 season. From
1927 onwards she sailed mainly in the upper reaches of the
river with her 1928, 1929 and 1930 sailing programmes Late in May 1902, a party of guests boarded the new
giving her occasional excursion trips to Stranraer. “Queen Alexandra (I)” for her first trip to Campbeltown,
out through The Kyles of Bute and then down Kilbrannan
During World War II, she was used as a passenger-troopship Sound. The return trip to Greenock, via the east coast of
tender at The Tail of The Bank but again returned to Arran, took just three hours, a very creditable performance
peacetime duties in the spring of 1946. and on she opened her season on Saturday, May 31, 1902,
Eventually, on June 6, 1952, she was sold for scrapping and with a special public excursion from Prince’s Pier and
four days later, on Tuesday, June 10, 1952, was towed to Gourock, between The Cumbraes and then up Loch Fyne.
The West of Scotland Ship- breaking Company’s yard at Two days later, on Monday, June 2, 1902, she took over the
Troon, a tow to which the author was witness as he came Campbeltown service from the “King Edward”.
home from primary school ! One of the turbines from the
“King Edward” is now on show at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove In appearance, the “Queen Alexandra (I)” was very
Museum. similar to the “King Edward” but, the new ship had a
continuous boat deck extending from the bridge to the top of
The “Queen Alexandra (I)” the companionway to after saloon and thus had her lifeboats
slightly further aft than those on the “King Edward” and,
Twenty-feet longer than the “King Edward”, the new ship although she too would have her boat deck lengthened in the
was launched by Miss Dorothy Leyland, her father a close winter of 1905-06, the “King Edward” retained a complete
associate Charles Parsons, on Tuesday, April 8, 1902, at break between her boat and navigating bridge throughout
Denny’s yard in Dumbarton, the new ship, Yard No. 670, cost here career.
£38,500. Like the “King Edward”, she too had five
propellors and their configuration would be changed over the One summer evening in 1906, the “Queen Alexandra (I)”
course of the next 3 years. was on charter to carry a party of John Brown’s shipyard
On Monday, May 19, 1902, with a moderate sea and a 20- employees on a non-landing cruise to Arran. So too, with a
knot wind, she made six runs on the Skelmorlie measured party from Singer’s Sewing Machine Company, was the three-
mile, achieving a best mean speed of 18.56 knots. Three years older North British paddle steamer “Waverley (III)”,
days later, after dry-docking at Scott’s in Greenock for hull both ships’ courses converged at The Tail of The Bank and a
cleaning, she made twelve runs over the Skelmorlie mile, race ensued, past The Cloch and Cumbrae Lighthouses, the
this time with a smooth sea and a light breeze. Now her best old 13.666 nautical mile ‘standard’ ship’s speed trial course
mean speed had risen to 21.63 knots and her fastest ever to and on to the coast of Arran. The “Waverley (III)”, whose
be recorded run was 21.82 knots and this was done using the best trial speed had been 19.73 knots, passed The Fallen
first set of propellors that had been made for the “King Rocks, at the north end of Arran, a full ship length ahead of
Edward” ! the newer and ostensibly faster turbine “Queen Alexandra
(I)” !
Between then and her final set of speed trials on May 5,
1904, there would be six different changes of propellors but Sometime in the early morning of Sunday, September 10,
none helped her get up to the record set back on May 22, 1911, as she lay at her coaling berth in Greenock’s Albert
1902 ! Harbour , a fire broke out, burning through the upper and
promenade decks and causing such damage that John
Williamson decided it better to sell her and build a surveys of possible routes for canals between the lochs and
replacement rather than effect repairs. between Loch Gilp and Loch Crinan.

Even before the fire, The Canadian Pacific Railway had been According to Watt “the spring tides in East Tarbat flow 10’6”;
interested in the ship to operate their Vancouver - Nanaimo in West Tarbat only 4’6”, or, in very extraordinary tides,
service. Now, re-named “Princess Patricia”, after the some 2’ higher. “The tides in the West Loch are most
daughter of the Duke of Connaught who had just become irregular; sometimes neither ebb nor flow; at other times
Governor-General of Canada, the fully reconditioned ship ebb and flow twice in a tide and the quantity of false ebb is
left The Clyde under her own steam on Wednesday, January about 1’. The mean height of tide in The Firth of Clyde is
17, 1912. greater than that of West Tarbat.”

After what her Chief Engineer Walter Anderson called ‘an Today, large ships are encouraged to use The North
awful voyage’ round Cape Horn - The Panama Canal not Channel’s system of separation lanes, outward bound ships
then open - the ship arrived in Victoria on March 18, 1912 - taking the outside lane but for small vessels sailing round the
forty-three days actual steaming from The Clyde. Walter long barrier of Kintyre has always been dangerous and time
Anderson stayed on with the ship and The C.P.R. Co. and he consuming.
too oversaw the ship’s storm damage repaired and her
conversion to burn oil before she began her new service from A fair tide could double a boat’s speed, a contrary tide might
Vancouver to Nanaimo, a two-hour run, on Saturday, May keep a boat stationary, making no headway, for 3 or 4
11, 1912. hours. ‘The Mull’ is an area of conflicting tides and it does
not take a lot of wind to raise a high and confused sea, very
Her lack of space for automobile traffic led to her being trying, sometimes treacherous for large and small craft alike.
replaced in 1928 by John Brown’s Clyde-built “Princess Inshore currents often run back in the opposite direction to
Elaine” and the “Pat”, as she had become known was the main tide’s own direction further adding to the
relegated to excursion and relief work till 1932. In 1935, she confusions. Local knowledge matters.
became a floating boarding house during a waterfront strike
in Vancouver and was finally scrapped at Victoria in 1937. A small boat, only able to do 4 knots, can make the 36-mile
Her ship’s bell was presented to the City of Nanaimo to mark trip from Red Bay to Gigha in only 6 hours provided she sets
her long association with the Vancouver ferry service. out at the start of the ebb tide and too provided she avoids
the inshore eddies and currents.
Time for Tides
Here, for the simple reason that many modern almanacs,

he facts that while the East Loch follows the usual textbooks and even simple computer software programs are
pattern of having two tides in every 24-hours whilst the ‘dumbed down’ and omit any simple explanations of how
West Loch may have four or even five tides in the same tides operate, it may be useful to understand a little about
time - or, in bad weather, seemingly have no tides at all, our local waters around The Clyde, Kintyre and The North
was noted by James Watt, in 1771, when he carried out Channel.

Being brought up in the north Ayrshire village of Skelmorlie, Day 22, about 6 a.m.. If the astronomical time of the Full
our house in sight of that occupied once by Lord Kelvin, who Moon is after 2 a.m., then the actual Full Moon falls to the
founded the harmonic method of predicting tides while following night.
watching the construction of Wemyss Bay Pier from his
windows, my classmates and I were learned many of the Some time elapses between the time of the moon’s passage
simple principles here about tides in the village’s primary across the sky and the actual time of the tide that it actually
school, opened by Lord Kelvin on Tuesday, September 25, occasions. On average, the tide occasioned will be about 1½
1866. So, to a short lesson in primary science ! days after the time of the moon’s transit and, just to
complicate matters further, in some parts of The World may
For anyone wanting a simple check on tides, high water be up to seven days later or even occur before the moon’s
at Full Moon and on the day after the astronomical date of passage across the sky.
the New Moon is around 12 noon, or midnight, at East Loch
Tarbert and about 2 ½ hours later at the West Loch ! The Clyde is an ideal place to watch the correspondences
between the moon’s transits and high water times, new
In another words, if a New Moon is predicted to fall to a moons, full moons and their respective high waters all fall
Saturday, with its first crescent being visible the next neatly to around 12 o’clock, noon and midnight. Other
evening, the Sunday, then high water will be about 12 phases and high waters following as suggested in these
o’clock on the Sunday, about 1 o’clock on the Monday and a principles here.
little before 2 o’clock on the Tuesday - times may be read as
a.m. or p.m. as the moon’s cycle is near 29½ days long and Spring Tides, when tide heights are highest and tide
thus times return near exactly every 59 days. In general, streams strongest, occur about two or three days after both
“o’clock” can be read as either a.m. or p.m.. new and full moons. During the 1st and 3rd quarters of the
moon, the interval between successive high waters is less
On the ‘Sunday’ following that when the first crescent of the than the usual average interval of 12 hours 25 minutes. This
new moon should have been visible, the time of high water acceleration of tide times is known as priming.
would therefore be around 6 o’clock and on the ‘Sunday’
after that at around 12 o’clock again, this time the moon Conversely, Neap Tides, when tides heights are lowest
being full etc. etc.. and tide streams weakest, occur in the 2nd and 4th quarters
of the moon phases. This time the intervals between
The New Moon is highest in the sky, above the observer’s successive high waters are slightly longer than average and
location, at noon and its first crescent can usually be seen in this is caused by lagging, due to the sun’s effect, rather
the western sky, after about 6 p.m. on the following evening than an effect of the moon.
- the moon’s crescent shapes appear reversed if one is in
The Southern Hemisphere, south of The Equator. Sea Level is measured from The Ordnance Survey Tidal
Observatory at Newlyn, just south of Penzance.
With the New Moon taken to fall on Day 0 (Day Zero), it
follows that the first quarter will appear highest in the sky, Tides radiate around nodal points, where there is neither
above the observer’s position, on Day 7 about 6 p.m.; the any rise, nor any fall in the height of the water and, while
Full Moon on Day 15, about midnight and the last quarter on there are three tidal nodes in the North Sea - off the
southern coast of Norway, off the Low Countries and at the London Bridge 1.58, Gigha Sound and Sound of Jura 2.22,
southern end of The North Sea, midway between the south- West Loch Tarbert, Kintyre 2.30, then Crinan 4.49 and Port
east of England and The Continent, we have our very own Ellen 5.00. And, for the curious, High Water at Rockall, way
tidal node at The Otter Rock, just south-west of Islay, near out in The Atlantic, occurs about 3.30 !
Port Ellen.
The difference in the time of high waters at any two locations
Replaced by a reflective radar buoy in 1960, the unmanned founds the time constant e.g. high water at Campbeltown
Otter Rock Lightship maintained its station on the tide is 21 minutes later than at Dover and using a Dover Tide
node from 1907 until yet again breaking its moorings on Table one simply adds 21 minutes to Dover times to find the
January 9, 1958 and eventually running ashore, its light still corresponding high water times at Campbeltown.
flashing continuously, just beside The Inn at Muasdale, on
the west coast of Kintyre. The Coastguard, R.A.F. and Civil A most useful - and very cheap - reference is Old Moore’s
Aviation Authorities were quick to demand immediate action Almanack. It gives High Water times for London Bridge
and the light switched off as it was now angled skywards. and, for general purposes, one need only subtract 2 hours
for high water in the Clyde or add 20 minutes to find high
The light tower itself was removed before the end of February water times off Gigha.
and the hull of the lightship dismantled in the early winter of
1958 by a Dunoon scrap-merchant, a man called Johnstone At Dover High Water, the tidal streams from Mull and
or Johnson, who found the wreck very conveniently adjacent Colonsay set into The Firth of Lorne; on the west side Islay,
to the local hostelry, where he set up a tent encampnent they are N’ly; between Islay and The Mull of Kintyre, they
right next door. set through the Sound of Jura; in Kilbrannon Sound and The
Firth of Clyde, N’ly; south of the Mull of Kintyre and Islay,
Thus to the general pattern of tides radiating from the tide W’ly. On the northern Irish coast, the stream is W’ly with an
node of The Otter Rock, flowing in through The North outset from Lough Foyle and an onshore set in the area north
Channel, into The Irish Sea and the Clyde and flowing up the of Malin Head.
west of Kintyre.
An hour after Dover High Water, the tidal streams in The
The pattern is easiest demonstrated by following the times Clyde and Kilbrannon Sound turn S’ly and at The Mull of
of High Waters on the day of the first crescent of the New Kintyre they turn W’ly. The stream is too W’ly
Moon and the day of the Full Moon as listed here - the on the north Irish coast.
times may be read as a.m. or p.m..
2 hours after Dover High Water the set from The Mull of
Portrush 6.08, Ballycastle 6.25, Red Bay 10.31, Mull of Kintyre to Canna
Kintyre and Belfast at 10.35, Liverpool 11.17, Dover 11.24, and Kylerhea becomes N’ly and inside The Mulll of Kintyre
Dublin 11.32, Stranraer 11.43, then Campbeltown 11.45, they become S’ly. The stream is too W’ly on the north Irish
Burnt Island in The Kyles of Bute 11.50, Rothesay 11.57, coast.
Ardrishaig and Inveraray 12 o’clock, Port Glasgow 12.09,
Greenock 12.17 and Glasgow 12.49. 3 hours after Dover High Water, from Loch Bracadale to
The Mull of Kintyre, the stream runs N’ly into all the bights
and bays except Tobermory, from which it sets out. East of Kintyre. On the north Irish coast, streams from Sheephaven
The Mull of Kintyre, the stream sets S’ly. The stream on the set W’ly to Tory Island and E’ly through The North Channel.
north Irish coast is E’ly from Tory Island to Sheephaven and 2 hours before Dover High Water, the stream is N’ly from
W’ly from Lough Swilly to the eastward. The Shiant Isles and S’ly from Skye through The North
Channel and N’ly inside Kintyre. On the north Irish coast,
4 hours after Dover High Water, from Benbecula to The streams run eastward and westward from Malin Head.
Mull of Kintyre, the stream continues to set N’ly, except
again at Tobermory, where it continues to set out. East of 1 hour before Dover High Water, the stream around
The Mull of Kintyre, the stream continues to set S’ly. On the Colonsay turns into The Firth of Lorne; around Islay, it turns
north Irish coast, from Sheephaven to the west, the stream into the Sound of Jura and around The Mull of Kintyre, it
is E’ly and from Lough Swilly to the eastward is W’ly. turns into Kilbrannon Sound and The Clyde. On the north
Irish coast, the streams continue to set both E’ly and W’ly
5 hours after Dover High Water, the tide stream sets N’ly from Maln Head, except offshore where the W’ly stream
from The Shiant Isles to Kintyre but is now S’ly in The Clyde, starts north of Tory Island.
Bute Sound and The Firth of Lorne. On the north coast of
Ireland, westward of Malin Head, the stream is E’ly; east of
Malin Head it is W’ly. and Weather

6 hours after Dover High Water, the stream from Cape
gain, for the simple reason that many modern
Wrath to Coll and Tiree is N’ly but south of Coll and Tiree is
almanacs, textbooks and even simple computer
S’ly and at The Mull of Kintyre it now turns E’ly as too is the
software programs are ‘dumbed down’ and omit any
stream on the north Irish coast.
simple explanations of how weather systems really operate,
not least about Kintyre, it may be useful to say a little about
It is now about Dover Low Water.
reading weather charts and understanding forecasts.
5 hours before Dover High Water, there is an area of
Kintyre and Gigha, but not Rathlin Island, lie in The Gulf
slack water off Coll and Tiree from which streams set both
Stream, the prevailing winds are from the south-west.
north and south with the south bound stream setting through
Kintyre’s weather is very localised and one often only needs
The North Channel but, inside Kintyre the stream is N’ly. On
to go but yards, rather than miles, to escape the showers.
the north Irish coast, the stream is E’ly and through The
North Channel.
When rain comes in from The Atlantic and sweeps across the
south end of Machrihanish Bay towards Campbeltown, one
4 hours before Dover High Water, the streams continue
will often find parallel rain bands sweeping across from
southbound through The North Channel and N’ly inside
Crinan to Lochgilphead, from West to East Loch Tarbert and
Kintyre. The stream continues to set E’ly on the north Irish
from Gigha, across Kintyre’s spine, to Carradale and across
Arran to Brodick and Lamlash. It can be raining in Tayinloan
and Pirnmill but totally dry in Carradale and Brodick ! It can
3 hours before Dover High Water, the streams continue
southbound through The North Channel and N’ly inside
be dry and warm at Bellochantuy and yet wet and cold in Hemisphere - clockwise in The Southern Hemisphere. The
Glenbarr, just a couple of miles away. centre of a ‘low’ lies about 60 degrees to the right of the
individual’s direct line of sight when facing into the wind in
So now, what happens when a typical depression The Northern Hemisphere - to the left in The Southern
crosses Kintyre and The Clyde ? Hemisphere.

Facing into a moderate West wind, the ‘low’ will lie about Around ‘highs’, winds, angled outwards, circulate
NNW and the depression will be moving from SW to NE. clockwise about their centres in The Northern Hemisphere -
There may be some low cumulus cloud on the horizon but, anti-clockwise in The Southern Hemisphere. The centre of a
ahead of it and high up in the sky, one will see streaky cirrus ‘high’ will be to the left of the individual when facing into the
cloud and ‘mares’ tails’ precede the warm front. wind in The Northern Hemisphere - to the right in The
Southern Hemisphere.
This is closely followed by a thin, almost transparent, veil of
cirrostratus cloud which may throw a halo round the sun (or Cold and Occluded (Mixed) Fronts move forward faster
moon) - the open section of the halo indicating the direction than Warm Fronts.
of the oncoming weather.
Wind Strengths may be 30% less where isobars are
The barometer will begin to fall and the wind will back - go curved tightly round a ‘low’ but may be 50% greater if the
anti-clockwise - to the South. Dense grey and thickening isobars are curved round a ‘high’.
stratus clouds will bring increasing amounts of rain and a
further fall in the barometer. The wind will increase in Isobars are drawn at 4 mb (millibar) intervals, from the
strength and again back further south, or south-east. centres of ‘lows’ and
As the warm front passes, the barometer will steady and the
wind will veer - go clockwise - to the SW as the rain eases. Two simple wind / speed conversions are easily
The cold front now causes the barometer to fall again slightly remembered
and more rain comes as the winds backs again, towards the Force 5 = 25mph 60mph = 100kph
south or south-east.
Wind Speeds may be assessed quickly by looking at the
At the front itself, the wind veers sharply NW or N and, as distance between isobars. Thus the following comparison of
the clouds now begin to break up, the barometer starts to distances etc..
rise. Squally showers may continue for a while but the
barometer will now continue to rise and the grey cumulus Force 2 (About 4- 6 knots) From N. to S. England
clouds begin to separate indicating that ‘the low’ has taken 360 miles
its course. A depression could be 1,000 miles across, be Force 3 (About 7-10 knots) From N. to S. Ireland
slow moving and take a week or more to pass ! 270 miles
Force 4 (About 11-16 knots) From N. to S. Wales
Around ‘lows’, winds, angled about 20 or 30 degrees 150 miles
inwards, circulate anti-clockwise in The Northern
Force 5 (About 17-21 knots) Blackpool to Newcastle When the barometer has been very low, about 29.0” / 982.0
110 miles mb, then the first rising usually precedes or indicates strong
Force 6 (About 22-27 knots) Bristol to Isle of Wight winds, at times heavy squalls, from the NW, N or NE after
85 miles which a gradually rising barometer indicates improving
Force 7 (About 28-33 knots) Solway Firth to Newcastle weather, if the temperature falls.
70 miles
Force 8 (About 34-40 knots) Dover to Calais/Boulogne 30 If the warmth continues, the wind will back i.e. go anti-
miles clockwise and a more S’ly or SW’ly wind will follow, especially
if the barometer’s rise is sudden.
Indications of approaching changes of weather and changes
in the directions and forces of winds are shown less by the A height of more than 30.00” / 1015.9 mb at sea level is
height of the barometer than by its rate of falling or rising. indicative of fine weather and moderate wind except,
Weather forecasts are based on the average rates of occasionally, if the wind has been between N and E. With
change over 3-hourly periods. temperatures below 3 degrees Centigrade / 37 degrees
Fahrenheit, any fall in the barometer is likely to indicate the
Gale Warnings are reported as Imminent (in less than 6 coming of snow.
hours), Soon (in the next 6 to 12 hours) and Later (in the
next 12 to 24 hours). The most dangerous shifts of wind, or the heaviest N’ly
gales, happen soon after the barometer first rises from a
Weather Systems being reported as moving Slowly very low point; or, if the wind veers, goes clockwise,
(between 1 and 15 knots per hour), Steadily (15-20 knots), gradually, there will be N’ly gales at some time later.
Rather Quickly (25-35 knots), Rapidly (35-45 knots) and
Very Rapidly (over 45 knots per hour). A rapid rise of the barometer indicates unsettled weather; a
slow movement the contrary; as, likewise, a steady
If the barometer has been about 30.00” / 1015.9 mb at barometer, which, when continued - and with dryness in
sea level and rises steadily while the thermometer falls and the air - indicates very fine weather.
the dampness in the air decreases, then a NW’ly, N’ly or
NE’ly wind, or less wind, lees rain or less snow may be A rapid and considerable fall is a sign of stormy weather and
expected. rain or snow. Alternate rising and falling of the barometer
indicates unsettled and threatening weather.
On the contrary, if a fall in the barometer takes place while
the thermometer is rising and the dampness in the air is The greatest depression of the barometer are with gales from
increasing, wind and rain may be expected from the SE, S or the SE, S or SW; the greatest elevations with wind from the
SW. NW, N or NE or with a calm. A sudden fall of the barometer,
with a W’ly wind, is sometimes followed by a violent storm
When the barometer is rather below its ordinary height, near from the NW, N or the NE.
29.5”/990.0 mb at sea level, then a rise indicates less wind, If a gale sets in from the E or SE and the wind veers by the S,
or a change in wind direction to the N, or less wet. the barometer will continue falling until the wind is near a
marked change at which time a lull may occur; after which
the gale will be renewed, perhaps suddenly and violently

and the veering of the wind towards NW, N or NE will then be n the middle of the 1966 seamen’s strike one of Peter
indicated by a rising of the barometer and a fall of the Kaye’s Clyde Hover Ferries’ two Westland SRN 6
thermometer. hovercraft, which had been trying to establish a new
service on the Clyde since the previous year, was soon
After very warm and calm weather, a storm or squall, with running emergency supplies to the islands, the hovercraft
rain, may follow; as it will at any time when the atmosphere took just 45-minutes to do the single West Loch to Islay
is heated much above the usual seasonal temperature. The crossing.
state of the air indicates coming weather rather than relating Clyde Hover Ferries, a subsidiary of Peter Kaye’s Highland
to any present weather. Engineering Ltd. which then owned Dickie’s Boatyard in
Tarbert, was formed in 1964 “to operate The World’s first
Teletext Weather Pages year-round scheduled hovercraft service” and, on December
5, 1964, the company announced that negotiations had

been begun about suitable ‘landing’ sites around the Clyde.
t the time of writing, in 2003, both BBC and ITV
In those days, The Department of Transport, unsure as to
teletext pages give useful and regularly updated
whether hovercraft were ships or aircraft, demanded dual
weather forecasts and local weather reports.
marine and air pilot qualifications for all hovercraft officers.

On January 6, 1965, Peter Kaye announced that a Westland

The full shipping forecast for all sea areas ITV
SRN 5, able to carry up to 20 passengers or two tons of
Page 157
freight, had been purchased and would commence service
Inshore shipping forecasts BBC Page 409 and ITV
from Tarbert, Loch Fyne, on June 1, 1965. A further story,
Page 158
on February 9, 1965, suggested that the new service might
A Surfing Report, wind directions, wind speeds, wave
be extended to the outskirts of the new Abbotsinch Airport
heights and conditions appears daily on BBC Page 429.
but speed was against it, fears being raised that the Black
Cart being too narrow and the banks liable to damage from
Local weather reports, giving air temperature, wind
the hovercrafts’ wash.
direction and wind speed, barometric pressure and trends -
riding, falling or steady - and also general conditions are
In the event, the company secured a five-year lease on two
updated hourly on BBC Page 404.
Westland SRN 6 hovercraft, these capabable of carrying up
to 38 passengers, or three tons of freight, at speeds of up to
High and Low Water Times and Heights of Tides for
50-knots. The two hovercraft, each built up of three sections
DOVER, then Portsmouth, Plymouth, Swansea,
sent from the manufacturers in The Isle of Wight, were
Liverpool, GREENOCK, Scrabster, Leith, Hull and
assembled at Clydebank and SR.N6 010 gave a
Southend-on-Sea appear at the end of the inshore forecast
demonstration run to Finnart, Loch Long, on Friday, June 18,
on ITV Page 158.
1965. Eight days later, on Saturday, June 26, she spent
the day giving ‘round-the-bay’ trips at Largs and the
following Saturday began a ferry service between Largs and
The Hovercraft and The Catamaran
Millport, with morning and evening ‘positioning’ runs from the mouth of Loch Striven, the last of these being made on
her base at Tarbert. Monday, September 26, 1966 and then, on October 4, this
last “Scooshin’ Cushion” left the Clyde under her own power
Rothesay calls were also added later in the month and by for Cowes.
then the sister craft,
SR.N6 012, had arrived so that, from the beginning of Just a year after Westland’s first expermental craft, SRN 1,
August, following a day of ‘Up The Loch’ trips for Tarbert had crossed The English Channel with inventor Christopher
villagers, the first trip taking television “Opportunity Knocks” Cockerell on July 25, 1959, Denny’s of Dumbarton had
celebrities Hughie Green and Monica Rose, a daily service formed a subsidiary, Denny Hovercraft Ltd., to build a
was begun from Tarbert, at 7 a.m., to Tighnabruiach, non-amphibious ‘sidewall’ (catamaran-type) hovercraft
Rothesay, Wemyss Bay, Dunoon, Gourock and Craigendoran. design and D2, a ‘hoverbus’ capable of carring up to 70
passengers, was launched on July 18, 1962. Leaving the
Seven ‘commanders’ and six hostesses were employed to Clyde on May 29, she arrived in The Thames, 820 miles
crew the two hovercraft, each craft having a ‘commander’ away, on June 17, 1962. Shortly afterwards, in September
and a hostess - some 200 girls applied for the hostesses’ 1963, Denny’s went into voluntary liquidation but Denny
jobs. Only three backup people were employed at the Tarbert Hovercraft Ltd. was retained as an asset by the liquidator and
yard and each night the hovercraft were hauled up on hand while work on a second ‘hoverbus’, D3, was completed, that
pulled chain hoists so that their undersides and ‘skirts’ could on the third, D4, was suspended and attention focused on
be closely inspected. On September 9, 1965, barely a improving the design, this included towing the ‘hoverbus’ at
month after the service began, SR.N6 012 collided with speeds of up to 35-knots astern of a Royal Navy gas-turbine
Gourock Pier and maintenance was transferred to Greenock, patrol boat on the Skelmorlie Measured Mile.
the daily Tarbert runs being dropped except for final inward
runs on Saturdays and starting runs on Mondays. Despite carrying many thousands of passengers on The
Thames and Denny’s liquidators doing their best to improve
In September 1965 too, Largs Town Council disputed Clyde the prototype D2, she failed a series of evaluation tests with
Hover Ferries’ payments of landing fees, five shillings per the Interservices Hovercraft Trials Unit and was laid up in
trip, to British Railways who had leased Largs’ beaches from 1964, the only way ahead now was for Denny’s liquidators to
The Crown Estates and banned the hovercraft trips on try operating a ‘hoverbus’ for themselves and hope to
grounds of residents’ complaints about noise from the persuade an operator to purchase either or, hopefully, both
hovercrafts’ engines. More mechanical troubles were to the two craft now renumbered as D2-003 and D2-004 and
follow and the services, estimated to be losing around in 1968 they formed Norwest Hovercraft Ltd. for that very
£1,000 per week, were suspended in January 1966 neither purpose.
the Craigendoran or Rothesay to Wemyss Bay rail connection
services ever winning much support. After being overhauled at Poole, D2-003, under the
command of Sir John Onslow, Bart., made the longest ever
In 1966, SR.N6 012 visited Belfast and then went south to non-stop voyage for a ‘sidewall’ hovercraft, leaving Poole on
Cowes, by rail ! Her sister, SR.N6 010, now tried using July 4, 1968 and arriving at Fleetwood the following day.
Fairlie Pier as a terminal but by July was running short non- Though the intention had been to operate a service between
landing pleasure trips from Rothesay to Inverchaolain Bay at Fleetwood to Barrow-in-Furness, pulling visitors from
Blackpool to The Lake District and vice versa, a theoretically her at Oban and reintroduced the Fort William, Tobermory,
lucrative proposition to this day, the only return trips were Iona and Crinan cruises, last performed by MacBrayne’s
on Monday, August 19, 1968, it being suddenly considered turbine steamer “King George V” in 1974 and, following a
more profitable to run 30-minute ‘cruises’ out of Fleetwood successful season, Western Ferries purchased the “Highland
alone. Seabird” from her Norwegian owner-builders in October
1977 and chartered her, till the following May, to Howard
Though D2-003 would also follow to Fleetwood in 1969, and Doris Ltd. at the Loch Kishorn oil platform construction yard.
a trans-Mersey service also considered, Norwest Hovercraft
Ltd. was put into liquidation in 1970 and D2-002 shipped to In May 1978, again based at Oban, Western Ferries added a
Jamaica to open a new route between Kingston and new excursion to Portrush and Moville in the Irish republic,
Palisadoes International Airport for Jamaica Hovercraft Ltd.. on Saturdays and Sundays. On Monday, September 18,
Too in 1970, MacBraynes former Islay ferry, “Lochiel (IV)”, 1978, at the end of her season, the “Highland Seabird”
as “Norwest Laird”, began her new but short-lived services gave Campbeltonians a special day excursion to Ayr. In
from Fleetwood to Barrow-in-Furness and Fleetwood to 1979, the Irish day excursion to Portrush and Moville was cut
Douglas, Isle of Man, she too was laid up at the end of 1970. to Sundays only and then dropped completely the following
year, the spring of 1981 saw the “Highland Seabird” on
On Saturday, June 6, 1970, The Caledonian Steam charter to Sealink for the Portsmouth to Ryde passenger ferry
Packet Company, with a 62-passenger Hovermarine service and then she was laid up on the slip at Old Kilpatrick,
‘sidewall’ hovercraft, HM2 011, made an inaugural trip near Glasgow. In July 1981, The Secretary of State for
from Gourock to Largs and a week later, after a series of Scotland proposed that the subsidy for CalMac’s Gourock -
trials, began operating from Largs to Millport, calls at Dunoon service be withdrawn and Western Ferries be given a
Rothesay and Dunoon being later added to her roster. At the capital grant so that they could buy another car-ferry to cope
end of the 1971 season, unsuited to Clyde waters, she was with the extra vehicle traffic, a subsidy too would be offered
‘reacquired’ by her builders American parent company and, to the company to operate a Gourock - Dunoon passenger
rebuilt, was later employed in America, then Canada, now service with the “Highland Seabird”, then lying idle at Old
renumbered HM2 311. Kilpatrick.

Though the weather conditions in The Clyde and West A public enquiry ensued and the proposals rejected, serious
Highlands are not conducive to high-speed hovercraft and hardship, inconvenience and difficulty being expected if the
hydrofoil operations, Western Ferries announced that they Dunoon passengers had to rely on the “Highland Seabird”,
were to charter an 89-foot, 160-passenger, 27-knot it being acknowledged that, the weather conditions,
Westermoen catamaran, which they named “Highland particularly in winter, would quickly lead to the suspension
Seabird” for service in The Clyde during the 1976 season. of the service if it were left to a 90-foot catamaran which was
In October 1976, chartered by The Highlands and Islands never designed to cope with the big seas which all too often
Development Board, she set out from Greenock for Portree threatened even ordinary car-ferry services and the
via Brodick, Campbeltown, Port Askaig, Colonsay, Oban, “Highland Seabird” was now put up for sale. In October
Fort William, Tobermory, and Tarbert, Harris. Given the 2002, CalMac’s Gourock - Dunoon service was again under
opportunity to keep her on charter for the following season, threat, the second ‘spare’ car-ferry now focusing on the
Western Ferries, after discussions with the H.I.D.B., based Rothesay - Wemyss Bay service. To cope with the two
morning and one evening traffic peaks, CalMac made the immediately been able to use the already existing facilities at
mistake of chartering the 250-passenger, but 19.5 metre- Campbeltown and elsewhere but, there was a major
long catamaran, “Ali Cat” from The Solent-based Red drawback to her purchase.
Funnel Group and after only one trip to Dunoon she was
forced to tie till the weather abated. The ship would have been cheap to buy being on offer at
some £17,000, including a spare engine but some £30,000
Interestingly, registered in Campbeltown, the “Highland needed to be spent removing and replacing the asbestos
Seabird” was sold to French owners in March 1985, the insulation materials in her engine room and in the end no
new owners taking her to St. Nazaire where, in March 1942, formal offers were made for her.
H.M.S. “Campbeltown”, formerly the U.S.S.
“Buchanan”, had famously and successfully been used to Despite that nothing came from the study to reinstate the
ram and blow up the big gates into the dock during World Irish ferry service with the “Arran (V)”, the proposition had
War II. been carefully thought through in the full knowledge that, as
had been found when Western Ferries’ “Sound of Islay”
had operated seasonally between 1970 and 1973, there was
A Ferry Good Idea little if any commercial vehicle traffic and the route was
therefore almost purely for tourists.

The traditional pattern of tourist movements around Scotland
here are good ‘geographical’ reasons to establish, at
finds that traffic moves anti-clockwise i.e. from ‘the south’,
least seasonal excursion ferry services across the mouth
northwards to Edinburgh and then to Inverness and south
of The Thames, between The Medway and Southend-on-Sea;
again to Fort William and Oban, the tourist travellers then
across Morecambe Bay, between Fleetwood and Barrow-in-
heading homewards as their funds run out, the final funds
Furness and, as is held here, from Campbeltown to both
being kept for a final night’s ‘fling’ in the ‘border’ and Lake
Larne and Loch Ryan but, there is no point trying to enter
District areas and the essential ‘first-thing’ and ‘next-
the tourist trade or trying to set up a ferry service without
morning breakfast’ grocery supplies needed when they got
fully understanding national traffic patterns, seasonal
home ! Despite the prevalence of cash dispensing machines
statistics and cash flow effects and the argument figures here
and credit cards, nothing has altered the tourists’ attitudes
may prove of some ‘historic interest’ to those with a
over the years. In the 1960’s, The Caledonian Steam Packet
particular interest in ‘the saga’ of the Campbeltown -
Company questioned motorists disembarking from the
Ballycastle car ferry service.
Dunoon car-ferry at Gourock about their intentions and found
that the majority of those returning south to England turned
Despite Western Ferries withdrawal of the Campbeltown - Red
not to Glasgow and then the A74 but south, down the
Bay service at the end of September 1973, the idea of a
Ayrshire Coast to Dumfries and Galloway and The Lake
short-sea Irish ferry crossing from Kintyre never went away
District for their final nights of their holidays.
and, in 1979, with the withdrawal of CalMac’s car-ferry
“Arran (V)”, a study was put in hand to gauge her viability
When the Fairlie-based car ferry “Cowal” began a daily
on the Irish crossing from Kintyre.
service Fairlie - Keppel Pier (Millport) and Brodick to Tarbert in
1970, the service essentially ‘unadvertised’ being designed
Equipped for both side and stern loading, she would have
to provide a relief for the sometimes over-loaded Ardrossan -
Brodick car ferry “Glen Sannox”, motorists loading their moving freight by this route, one easily affected by weather
cars at Tarbert confirmed the earlier findings and, much to conditions, no support could be expected from road hauliers.
STG’s surprise and thanks largely to the editor of the weekly
“Autocar” magazine, quite a considerable traffic built up for There were already and ample enough berthing facilities for
the Tarbert section ! stern and side-loading ferries at both Cairnryan and
Stranraer, the former being favoured, right at the entrance
The proposals to reinstate the car-ferry service from to Loch Ryan.
Campbeltown took account of these findings and, instead of
simply focusing on the provision of an Irish service, sought On the Irish side, rather than Red Bay, the natural
to establish links with both Ireland and the Loch Ryan area destination was Larne with good berthing facilities and,
drawing traffic through Kintyre which would otherwise be lost importantly, good route communications to the whole of
to the already well patronised Stranraer - Larne ferry Ireland by bus and by train, ideal for ‘non-landing day trip’
services. excursions from Ireland to Kintyre.

Additionally, the proposed new services would open up a The timetable proposals were
through continental link to the Cork to Roscoff vehicle ferry.
‘Loch Ryan’Campbeltown Larne
Refrigerated lorry traffic from Spain hauled fruit across the
English Channel, the empty lorries came north to the various Mon & Fri 0945  0645  0945 Tu Wed
West Highland landing ports for shellfish before returning Thu
home again, not infrequently through Poole, in the south of 1045  1330  1030
England and the homeward route through Kintyre had the Sat & Sun
potential for shortening driving hours and delivery times. Tue & Thu 1800  1500  1800
Mon Wed Fri
The Kintyre - ‘Loch Ryan’ link would again pull homeward 1900  2200  1900
bound southern tourists through Mid Argyll and Kintyre and, Sat & Sun
through reciprocal ticketing arrangements with the Stranraer
- Larne and other Irish Sea ferry operators, a completely new
As Required 0200  2300  0200 As
set of mini-break, weekend and mini-circular tourist breaks,
operating in all directions, would be created.
0300  0600  0300
There was no recent history of commercial trading between
While both The Scottish Tourist Board and the then Highlands
Kintyre and the Ayrshire ports to suggest the viability of any
and Islands Development Board published monthly
Kintyre - Ayr - Troon or Ardrossan freight service. In any
‘occupancy rates’ for Kintyre, private records were employed
case, despite the appeal of any short Kintyre - Ayrshire ferry
to obtain a ‘full and proper’ overview of the actual trading
crossing times, the additional time needed for boarding and
pattern in Kintyre on a weekly basis throughout the ‘average’
disembarkation would nullify the seeming advantage of such
year and the results then used to found the necessary traffic
a route and, there being no real time improvement in
projections for the new services.
16 2.3170% 30.54% 420
23 2.6644% 35.12% 504
30 2.6576% 35.03% 504
= 11.9818% 31.58% 2,212
1st Qtr. = 27.5377% 27.92% 5,096
Summer Season (Apr - Sep) July 7 3.5847% 47.25% 672
Date % of Sales Cars 2,240
Passengers W/ends Ann. T/o Occ. Per 14 4.2690% 56.27% 784
Week Per Week 2,613
Apr 7E 1.2214% 16.10% 224 21 4.3745% 57.66% 812
747 2,707
14 1.5158% 19.98% 280 28 7.5867% 100.00%
933 1,400 4,667
21 1.2207% 16.09% 224 = 19.8151% 65.29% 3,668
747 12,227
28 1.8648% 24.58% 336 Aug 4 4.8107% 63.41% 896
1,120 2,987
= 5.8228% 19.18% 1,064 11 2.3693% 31.23% 448
3,547 1,493
May 5 1.9543% 25.76% 364 18 1.9976% 26.33% 364
1,213 1,213
12 1.9073% 25.14% 364 25 1.8291% 24.11%
1,213 336 1,120
19 2.8465% 37.52% 532 = 11.0069% 36.27% 2,044
1,773 6,813
26 3.0248% 39.87% 560 Sep 1 1.6220% 21.38% 308
1,867 1,027
= 9.7330% 32.07% 1,820 8 2.1030% 27.72% 392
6,066 1,307
Jun 2 1.7138% 22.59% 308 15 2.5613% 33.76%
1,026 476 1,587
9 2.6288% 34.65% 476 22 1.5909% 20.97%
1,587 280 933

29 1.4475% 19.08% 15 1.1175% 14.73% 196
280 933 653
= 9.3249% 24.58% 22 1.5219% 20.06% 280
1,736 5,787 933
2nd Qtr. = 40.1470% 40.70% 7,448 29 1.3216% 17.42% 252
24,827 840
= 6.4442% 16.98% 1,204
Apr - Sep = 67.6848% 34.31% 12,544 4,013
41,813 3rd Qtr. = 17.5436% 17.78% 3,220
Winter Season (Oct - Mar) Jan 5 1.1456% 15.10% 224
Date % of Sales Cars 747
Passengers 12 0.9081% 11.97% 168
W/ends Ann. T/o Occ. Per Week Per 560
Week 19 1.6053% 21.16% 308
Oct 6 1.4111% 18.60% 252 1,027
840 26 1.3428% 17.70% 252
13 1.7434% 22.98% 308 840
1,027 = 5.0019% 16.48% 952
20 1.6038% 21.14% 308 3,173
1,027 Feb 2 0.9574% 12.62% 168
27 1.5249% 20.10% 280 560
933 9 0.9377% 12.36% 168
= 6.2833% 20.70% 1,148 560
3,827 16 0.9506% 12.53% 168
Nov 3 1.2556% 16.55% 224 560
747 23 1.3079% 17.24% 252
10 1.2366% 16.30% 224 840
747 = 4.1537% 13.68% 756
17 1.2540% 16.53% 224 2,520
747 Mar 2 1.1531% 15.20% 224
24 1.0697% 14.10% 196 747
653 9 1.1175% 14.73% 196
= 4.8160% 15.87% 868 653
2,894 16 1.2366% 16.30% 224
Dec 1 1.0287% 13.56% 196 747
653 23 0.8573% 11.30%
8 1.4543% 19.17% 280 168 560
30E 1.2510% 16.49% 224 The Isle of Man Steam Packet Co., put her on a weekend
747 service to Douglas, outward on Friday evenings and
= 5.6157% 14.80% 1,036 returning to Ardrossan on Sundays, a service which she
3,453 continued for three seasons and was important for Scottish
4th Qtr. = 14.7714% 14.97% 2,744 motorcyclists going to the annual Manx TT races.
Oct - Mar = 32.3151% 16.38% 5,964 In December 1996, CalMac’s ‘Island Class’ “Bruernish”,
19,880 with a Northern Ireland Office subsidy, had initiated a car-
Annual Traffic /Load 24.34 % 18,508 ferry servce from Rathlin Island to Ballycastle and CalMac,
cars 61,693 pass. the “Claymore (III)” ‘spare’, had been pursuing the
possibility of opening up a service between Campbeltown
The Fixed and Variable operating costs of the service were and Ballycastle but, after much delay, The Secretary of State
expected to ‘break even’ with a 35% full load i.e. 18 cars for Scotland refused to let CalMac operate the new service
and 60 passengers per single one-way trip, 504 cars and and, in October 1996, announced that he had ordered the
1,680 passengers per week or 6,552 cars and 21,840 company to sell the newly overhauled “Claymore (III)” to
passengers per 13-week quarter. The exact traffic mix was of Sea Containers’ newly formed subsidiary, The Argyll and
course unknown and, to satisfy the given projections, a Antrim Steam Packet Company, for £750,000, it being
“calculating ratio” of 3 cars was considered equal to 1 lorry that they had agreed to operate a summer service on the
or bus or equal to 10 passengers equal to 8 adults and 2 route for the next three years and without any other
children. operating subsidies. During the winters of 1997-98 and
1998-99, the ship was charted back to CalMac in case of
Though others chose to ignore these occupancy figures and need to use her for reliefs on the Islay service and elsewhere.
traffic projections, they were later employed to “guess- Sea Containers insistence on using “Claymore (III)” for the
timate” expected attendances at the ill-fated Millennium Isle of Man TT motor-bike races services, a charter service
Dome and to, again, “guess-timate” passenger numbers for that could have been provided by other ships, prevented any
the successful London Eye/Millennium Wheel in London and regular operation of the Irish ferry beginning until mid-to-late
the final attendances and loadings were found to fall within June each year. Little surprisingly, the Ballycastle service
less than 1½% of the final published trading results for these ended in 1999 and the “Claymore (III)” was laid up at
far-distant attractions ! Birkenhead. The route’s traffic figures, preserved for
posterity, reveal her loadings
It is therefore little surprising to find that the accuracy of the
projections here is also reflected in the traffic returns for the in 1997, between July 1 and October 19, 27,167
short-lived Campbeltown - Ballycastle ferry service operated passengers, 6,378 cars, 65 heavy commercials, 190
by the “Claymore (III)” and had her service been properly caravans, 31 trailers, 151 motor cycles and 262 bicycles.
promoted in advance of her sailing seasons she might well
have exceeded the traffic projections set out above. in 1998, between May 8 and October 11 (with a
break from June 1 - 18), 28,001 passengers, 5,502 cars, 52
In 1994, CalMac’s car-ferry “Claymore (III)” became commercials, 65 light vans, 25 buses, 13 mini-buses, 134
‘spare’ and, based at Ardrossan, CaMac, in association with
caravans, 45 trailers, 39 camper vans, 378 motor cycles charter to Strandfaraskip Landsins, in the Faraoe Islands at
and 114 bicycles. the very time when, had she been on the Campbeltown to
Ballycastle service, Sea Containers would have insisted on
in 1999, between June 18 and September 26, 23,722 her covering the Manx TT races ! How the company got out
passengers, 5,291 cars, 65 commercials, 24 buses, 181 of the Manx ‘charter’ so quickly and easily remains a
caravans, 46 trailers, 30 camper vans, 313 motor cycles mystery, why couldn’t they get out of it before ?
and an unrecorded number of bicycles.
Critics might suggest that the writer’s projections were
Had a proper and regular ‘comparable’ programme of sailings ‘wildly optimistic’ but the ‘proof of the pudding’ is indeed
been carried out the traffic projections, May to October, of borne out by the July to September results for each of the
39,947 passengers and 11,984 cars might well have been three years of Claymore’s sailings !
matched !
While many have dithered, prevaricated and questioned the
Despite the ‘irregularity’ of starting dates at the beginning of viability and profitability of the Irish ferry route from Kintyre,
the three seasons, 1997 - 1999, records of Claymore’s Orkney-based Pentald Ferries, bought the former CalMac
loadings can be compared directly with the traffic projections car-ferry “Iona (VII)”, renamed her Pentalina B and, in the
included here. spring of 2001, after a three-year lay-up while being rebuffed
at every turn for support and subsidies from the local
For the period July to September, it was suggested that enterprise agencies and councils, began a thrice daily
24,827 passengers and 7,448 cars might use the Irish ferry crossing between St. Margaret’s Hope, in Orkney and Gill’s
service. In the seasons between July and September, she Bay, on the opposite side of The Pentland Firth.
Again, from the projections noted earlier, for a 7-month,
23,509 passengers and 5,447 cars in 1997 April to October service, it can be suggested that a ship such
20,758 passengers and 3,940 cars in 1998 as “Iona (VII)”, capable of carrying 50 cars and 300
and21,909 passengers and 4,812 cars in 1999 passengers, should expect to convey 45,640 passengers and
13,692 cars. When Pentland Ferries’ figures were
It is clearly apparent that the passenger traffic was ‘near published, it was revealed that they carried 46,000
target’, particularly in the first (1997) season and the passengers - just 360 more than the projection - and carried
biggest problem, especially in generating vehicle traffic, was 16,000 cars, 2,300 cars more than the projection and it was
the public uncertainty in the following two seasons about asserted that not only was Pentland Ferries was able to
sailing dates, lack of proper promotion decimating the operate “quite comfortably without a subsidy” but too was
potential car traffic figures. Nor did it help that, after her “profitable” on a turnover slightly in excess of just £1m in its
first (1997) season, changed her overnight berth from first seven months ! Andrew Banks, Pentland Ferries’ owner,
Campbeltown to Ballycastle. was quoted in ‘The (Glasgow) Herald’ as saying that the
traffic figures exceeded his own projections by some 30% so
Strangely, in 2000, the year after Sea Containers it may be reasonably assumed that the “Iona (VII)”, now
abandoned Campbeltown, they didn’t operate “Claymore renamed Pentalina B, costs less than £1m to operate on a
(III)” on the Isle of Man run but instead had her on a short seven-month service.
‘BES’ ceiling on ‘shipping’ ventures was raised from just
Given the writer’s traffic projections, the actual traffic £500,000 to £5 million.
loadings for the 1997-1999 service and now Pentland Ferries’
figures, it would seem that ‘the Irish ferry’ is indeed viable Behind the new venture were Anthony and Susan Binns
and probably even viable without a subsidy if one is to whose canal chartering business, established in 1973, was
accept Andrew Banks and Pentland Ferries’ experiences. operating some thirty narrow-boats from bases at Anderton,
on the ‘Cheshire Ring’ and Hillmorton,, outside Rugby and, as
That being the case, one wonders just who ‘conjured-up’ the Operations Director and Senior Ship’s Master, they were
new ‘subsidy’ figure for the Irish ferry, up from £750,000 to joined by Captain Howard Anguish who had formerly sailed
perhaps £1.4m per year, for an 11-month service and a five- with the Cunard Line.
year contract.
On October 28, 1986, a new company, IML Hebridean
Island Cruising Ltd., was formed and then, on February 26,
The “Hebridean Princess” 1988, it was re-registered as Hebridean Princess Cruises
Ltd.. The company’s name was changed yet again on July 5,

1988, to Leisure & Marine Holdings Ltd. and, on the same
n the summer of 1988, MacBrayne’s/CalMac announced
date, its subsidiary company then named as Hebridean
that the end had come for the summer day excursions from
Island Cruises Ltd., the latter, a wholly owned subsidiary
Oban to Iona and with the announcement came the news
of the founding company, chartering and operating the ship
that the “Columba (II)” had been sold to Hebridean
in The West Highlands.
Princess Cruises plc. and the story of the ship’s financing,
acquisition and conversion may be of some general interest.
On February 4, 1987, IML Hebridean Island Cruising Ltd.
entered into a contract with Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd. to
The Conservative Government, appreciating that many
purchase their car-ferry “Columba (II)” for the sum of
companies requiring relatively small amounts of equity
£275,000, a 30% non-returnable deposit of £82,500 being
capital were ill-served by the ‘conventional’ venture capital
agreed in respect of this offer. Then, a full year later, on
industry, had set up a Business Expansion Scheme in the
February 8, 1988, London-based L. & R. Leisure Consultants
mid-1980’s. The venture capital industry did not generally
wrote supporting the company’s contention that they too
cater for ‘start-up’ situations, smaller capitalised companies
believed there was indeed a big enough small-ship cruise
being, by definition, risky and many potential investors
market to provide the “1,800, seven-day equivalent,
considering such risk/rewards unfavourable. Special
passengers” sought and that a “70% ‘occupancy’ rate was a
considerations were given for ‘shipping’ ventures and it was
reasonable objective” for the new venture, the ship’s
essentially through these provisions and the availabilty of
proposed programme operating over an initially 22-week
funds from the Ship Mortgage Finance Company (SMFC), it
operating season, from March to October 1989 and, an
operated by the commercial banks on behalf of The
extended 30-34 week season in later years.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), that a new venture
was set up to operate a a small luxury cruise-ship in The
Three days later the accountants Touche Ross’s Manchester
West Highlands. Fortuitously, in the spring of 1988, just
office confirmed their review of the new venture’s 5-year
when funding-raising for the new venture was beginning, the
trading projections observing “it unlikely that all the
assumptions will remain valid throughout the (5-year) period” The company’s financial projections suggested the following
and the following day, February 12, 1988, Leonard Reilly, sequence of results with the ship able to accommodate up to
M.D. of the company’s Hull-based naval architects, Shiptech 70 guests looked after by a crew of 22.
Ltd., wrote predicting a successful conversion of the ship by
George Prior’s Great Yarmouth shipyard. Prior’s themselves 30-week season 1989 1990 1991 1992
would later, on August 12, 1988, write too that they
foresaw little problem in meeting the requirements of Lloyd’s, Occupancy 64 % 69 % 79 % 81 %
The Department of Trade and Health and Safety regulations. Turnover (000’s) 1,217 1,487 1,848 2,021
Pre-Tax Profits 59 195 500 645
The funding needed to get to this stage, £150,000, had
come from another company called IML Holdings Ltd. and it Occupancy 69 % 74 % 84 % 86 %
now proposed to put in a further £50,000 to add to its Turnover (000’s) 1,309 1,581 1,963 2,143
shareholding in the new company Hebridean Princess Cruises Pre-Tax Profits 132 280 604 762
plc., the balance of the funds needed now to be raised
through the Business Expansion Scheme (BES) and a Ship Occupancy 74 % 79 % 89 % 91 %
Mortgage Finance Company (SMFC) loan. Turnover (000’s) 1,396 1,687 2,072 2,260
Pre-Tax Profits 201 367 704 874
With an authorised capital of £2 million in Ordinary Shares of
£1 each, Hebridean Princess Cruises plc. opened a share The prospectus suggested that prices would range from £300
subscription list on March 1, 1988, offering 1.3 million £1 per person for three nights to £1,450 per person for 7 nights
shares at £1.95p per share, the aim being to raise in a top grade stateroom with outside private balcony, the
somewhere between £1.56 and £2.145m. majority of accommodation being priced at just under £1,000
Adding to the purchase price of the ship, already agreed at per person for a 7-night cruise.
£275,000, was the then estimated £2,009,000 cost of her
conversion and outfitting, to accommodate up to 70 guests, Then, with some six weeks to go before taking delivery of
plus £76,000 for working capital and contingencies plus a the ship from Caledonian MacBrayne, Leisure and Marine
further £150,000 to cover the cost of the share issue, a Holdings plc. too opened a share subscription list, the
grand total of £2,510,000. company having an authorised capital of £2m in Ordinary £1
shares and offering 1.5 million shares at £1.25p each to raise
Through the funding proposal, IML Holdings Ltd. would hold between £455,000 and £1.875 m.
£200,000 of Ordinary Shares and, with BES subscribers then In the new share prospectus, essentially a copy of the
holding a minimum of £1.56 million shares, the balance of prospectus issued previously by Hebridean Princess Cruises
funds would be provided by a SMFC loan of £1m and plc., the company, now re-named Leisure and Marine
through H.P./Leasing agreements worth £50,000, a £300,00 Holdings plc., proposed investing a further £150,000 itself,
cash deposit to The National Westminster Bank to secure the bringing its investment up to £300,000 and noted that a fixed
£1m SMFC loan, the SMFC loan being drawn on the redelivery price for the ship conversion work had now been agreed with
of the ship after its conversion from Prior’s yard in Great Prior’s yard at Great Yarmouth, the conversion cost now fixed
Yarmouth. at £1,029,000, the guest accommodation to cater now for
just 65 passengers. While working capital and contingency
figures remained the same at £76,000, the cost of the share
issue was now reduced to £40,000.
30-week season projections for 1989 1990 1991 1992
The costs of the ship, her conversion, the 1993
working/contingency capital and share issue were now
reduced to £1,420,000 it being funded by £300,000 from IML Occupancy 74 % 79 % 89 % 91 % 91 %
Holdings Ltd., at least £455,000 from the new BES Turnover (000’s) 802 1,284 1,506 1,656
subscriptions, a £560,000 SMFC loan for the ship - The 1,738
National Westminster Bank now only required a £60,000 cash Pre-Tax Profits 121 166 361 472
deposit and the interest 7-year loan, negotiated at a now 536
fixed rate of 7½% p.a., payable at six-monthly intervals.
The new prospectus contained revised cruise prices which
Now, though the H.P./Leasing costs had however doubled to would now range from £250 per person for three nights to
£100,000, IML were also putting in a loan of £50,000 and the £1,450 per person for 7 nights in a top grade stateroom with
final £15,000 needed would be covered by accrued interests outside private balcony, the majority of accommodation now
on funds. being projected at around £600 per person for a 7-night
New financial projections suggested the following sequence
of results with the ship’s capacity reduced to accommodate Withdrawn from CalMac sailings, the “Columba (II)” was
up to 65 guests looked after by a crew of 22. handed over to her new owners, Leisure and Marine
Holdings plc. at Greenock on Friday, October 14, 1988 and
30-week season projections for 1989 1990 1991 1992 sailed immediately to arrive in Rochester the following
1993 Monday where she was to be dry-docked, grit-blasted and
have her under-water hull painted before sailing for George
Occupancy 64 % 69 % 79 % 81 % 81 % Prior’s yard at Great Yarmouth for conversion work to begin.
Turnover (000’s) 701 1,130 1,345 1,483
1,556 With the ship’s conversion cost reduced from £2,009,000 to
Pre-Tax Profits 44 44 221 313 £1,029,000, plans for the construction of ‘The Skye Lounge’,
360 at the stern end of the upper ‘B’ Promenade Deck, it
immediately below the bridge/boat ‘A’ deck and for cabins on
30-week season projections for 1989 1990 1991 1992 the old car-deck, now referred to as ‘The Waterfront Deck’,
1993 were now necessarily set aside until a later date.

Occupancy 69 % 74 % 84 % 86 % 86 % On Wednesday, April 26, 1989, some two hundred and fifty
Turnover (000’s) 751 1,207 1,426 1,569 1,647 guests invited to the ceremony at Great Yarmouth, Her Royal
Pre-Tax Profits 82 105 291 392 Highness The Duchess of York re-named the ship
448 “Hebridean Princess”, Hebridean Island Cruises’ own
‘princess’, 10-year old Louise Maclean from Inverness,
presenting The Duchess of York with a posy of fresh spring
flowers. running, albeit something of an impoverished schedule till
the end of the 1977 season. She had reverted to her original
Having very quickly made a name for its very luxurious name “Queen Mary” at a ceremony on Thursday, May 6,
cruises around the Scottish West Highlands, Hebridean Island 1976, the 1934-built Cunard liner of the same name now
Cruises now hopes to earn a similar accolade for its removed from the shipping registers and berthed at Long
operation of the 4,200 gross ton “Hebridean Spirit” which Beach as a static hotel and conference centre.
was built in 1991 for Renaissance Cruises as their
‘Renaissance Six’, later sold and renamed “Sun Viva 2”. The The “Queen Mary” was laid up in Greenock’s East India
new ship, with a crew of 74 to look after the 80 passengers, Harbour and then sold to Euroyachts Ltd. for conversion to a
will only occasionally visit Scottish waters, her cruising floating restaurant, her three valuable propellors, simply,
programme having already taken her from Leith to Southern burnt off, rather than being uncoupled from her tailshafts, in
India via The Baltic, The Mediterranean and The Red Sea and Lamont’s dry-dock. Though she had been towed from the
her passengers flying to and from different ports for seven or Clyde to Chatham on January 29, 1981, it was only in July
more night fly-cruise holidays. 1988 that, now again with two funnels, she was then towed
While both “Hebridean Princess” and “Hebridean up-river to be moored near London’s Hungerford Bridge, not
Spirit” cater for the very top end of the now highly far from the old “Maid of Ashton”, in use as a floating
competitive luxury cruise market, the “Hebridean restaurant bar and renamed “Hispaniola (II)”. Sold to City
Princess” has been consistently fortunate in keeping three- Cruises of London in the early part of 2002, the old “Maid
quarters of her cabins full all season year-in-year-out. Given of Ashton” put to sea for the first time in nearly 30 years
the same standards set by the “Hebridean Princess”, the when she was towed to George Prior’s yard at Ipswich for
“Hebridean Spirit” might too find a similar ‘niche’ market refitting and hull inspection later in the year.
for herself as she follows in the wake of those other ‘mini-
liners’ whose courses were set by the pioneering While one of her sister-ships, the “Maid of Argyll”,
“Caledonian Star”, a converted deep-sea trawler. renamed first “City of Piraeus” and the “City of Corfu”,
Whatever the outcome of the new venture, the operation of was declared a total loss after fire broke out on board in
the “Hebridean Princess” looks fairly secure, the majority 1997, her other sister-ships, both now able to carry cars,
of her guests coming from home and not, as one might continue to sail on., the former “Maid of Cumbrae” as the
expect, from overseas ! “Capri Express” and the former “Maid of Skelmorlie” as
the “Ala”, both recently and thoroughly overhauled and
sailing in warm Mediterranean climes and not so far from
From “Queen” to “Knooz” them, in Malta’s Valetta Harbour, the one time Largs -
Millport ferry “Keppel”, once the “Rose”, continues to sail

under her old Clyde name.
ith the coming of the 1970’s and the demise of the
“Duchess of Hamilton” so too came the end of
The “Queen Mary” now occupies the moorings first used by
Campbeltown’s regular summer steamer services.
the Clyde paddle steamer “Caledonia”, renamed “Old
Caledonia”, irreparably damaged by fire in on April 27,
The 1933-built turbine “Queen Mary II” took up the
1980, it being then the intention to replace her with the
excursion programme for the 1971 season and continued
“King George V” but she too had been consumed by fire
during conversion work at Cardiff on August 26, 1981. Portsmouth - Ryde passenger ferry “Shanklin” and,
renamed “Prince Ivanhoe”, she took up her integrated
CalMac, now concentrating on car ferry services, had sent excursion programme of sailings, including Campbeltown, in
the 1957-built “Glen Sannox (III)” to be re-engined at Hall 1981. Sadly, she struck a ‘submerged reef’, some maintain
Russell’s Aberdeen yard early in 1977 and, with the ‘a submarine’, off The Gower Coast on Monday, August 3,
withdrawal of the “Queen Mary” at the end of that same 1981 and, safely beached to evacuate her passengers and
year, the “Glen Sannox (III)” found herself on an crew, she was subsequently broken up where she lay.
integrated cruise-car ferry roster in the summers of 1978,
the days Campbeltown’s regular, even occasional, excursion In 1986, “Waverley (IV)” was joined by the twin-screw
service were over. 1949-built “Balmoral”, both ships now continuing to
provide a wide programme of excursion sailings around
The “Glen Sannox (III)” would now find herself acting as Britain. In 1993, the “Balmoral” initiated what was to
relief car-ferry as often in West Highland waters as in the become an almost annual day trip from Campbeltown to Red
Clyde even, in February 1979, somewhat exceptionally Bay and Rathlin Island, the 2002 trip, on Saturday, June 22,
calling at the island of Gigha, Gigha’s own car ferry service was given by “Waverley (IV)” and, breaking new ground,
to Tayinloan not then being in operation. began from Ayr, leaving only time for the steamer to cruise
to Fair Head instead of Rathlin itself.
The “Glen Sannox (III)” was subsequently sold for use as a
pilgrim ship in The Red Sea and left the Clyde on Wednesday,
August 9, 1989, renamed as the “Knooz”. AN OVERSEAS MYSTERY . . . . .
Keeping Up Steam
S kipness House’s owner was a cousin of Skelmorlie Castle’s
tenant and when new sandstone was required it was sent

ithdrawn from service at the end of the 1973 by ‘puffer’ from the quarry at Skelmorlie to Skipness and
season, the 1947-built paddle-steamer “Waverley then there was the ‘smuggling’ connection.
(IV)” was handed over to The Paddle Steamer
Preservation Society in 1974 and, after an inaugural cruise One John McConnachie of Carradale who used to take whisky
on the Thursday, gave her first public sailing on Saturday, from the ‘Sma Still’ in Arran to one Henry Watson, the
May 24, 1975, an excursion from Glasgow’s Anderston Quay gardener at Skelmorlie Castle !
to Gourock, Dunoon, Tarbert and Ardrishaig, the old ‘Royal
Route’ of MacBrayne’s mail steamer service. Three years One of Henry’s sons, William Watson, an engineer by
later, on Saturday, June 24, 1978, she repeated the profession, was something of an adventurer, having grown
excursion as a centennial tribute to MacBrayne’s famous up with the family of their next neighbour, A. D. Campbell of
paddle-steamer “Columba (I)” leaving Glasgow’s Stobcross ‘Ashcraig’, a West Indian sugar planter
Quay at 7.11 a.m..
William Watson eventually settled for a while in Louisiana in
To complement “Waverley (IV)” and generate more funds the 1850’s but his adventurous spirit led him to join The
for her upkeep, another consortium refurbished the former Confederates, first the army and then their navy, initially on
the “Rob Roy”, blockade running schooner. William her stranding, ‘The Institute’ has reported that she is “in
Watson, by virtue of his engineering knowledge and excellent condition”.
upbringing on the shores of The Clyde, had some part in
procuring and operating the Clyde Steamers which were The curious thing about the ship is her name - the
quickly sold to The Confederates as blockade runners and it “Denbigh” ! It certainly isn’t a Clyde or Scottish-related
was at this time that he met up with one Henry Morton name and, though it might have been picked at random, the
Stanley, later to find fame for seeking out Dr David “Denbigh” connection, through Stanley’s birth and
Livingstone in Africa. subsequent adoption, has some credence ! Perhaps we’ll
never know ?
Having now digressed this far ‘off course’ - and there will be
no doubt further ‘digressions’ in these pages - it is worth In 1867, Henry Morton Stanley joined the staff of “The New
recording the seeming story of Watson and Morton for it York Herald” and was sent off, via London, to join Lord
seems to be unreported elsewhere and it involves both a Napier’s Abyssinian expedition. Both Archibald MacEachern
Clyde Steamer and the Burns family who had many shipping and William Mackinnon were too in Africa at this time. Too in
interests in our own home area. 1867, one Dr James ‘Paraffin’ Young bought Kelly Estate,
overlooking Wemyss Bay’s Pier and Railway Station, opened
H. M. Stanley was born John Rowlands, son of unmarried on Monday, May 15, 1865.
parents, in the Welsh town of Denbigh, note Denbigh and
John Rowlands sailed as a cabin-boy for New Orleans where Young would soon have met his neighbours, George and, his
he was adopted by a merchant named Stanley which son, John Burns, of G. & J. Burns and the Cunard Line, who
persuaded his change of name to Henry Morton Stanley. lived less than a mile away in Wellesley House and Castle
Wemyss, respectively, and in the course of conversation
Stanley joined The Confederate Army and then their navy would no doubt have made them aware of his close
and, though supposition, probably met up with Skelmorlie- friendship with Dr David Livingstone, the African explorer and
born engineer William Watson. It would seem too that missionary.
Stanley’s then adopted father may have contributed largely
to the purchase price of a former Clyde Steamer, perhaps By sheer coincidence that year, 1867, young Henry Morton
through Watson’s encouragement and contacts. Very likely Stanley too appeared at Wemyss Bay, as a house guest at
too, it would seem that Watson became her engineer and Castle Wemyss and, with ‘Paraffin’ Young in the company,
young H.M. Stanley, with his cabin-boy trans-Atlantic would ‘meet’ Dr Livingstone for the first time !
experience, became one of her deck officers, perhaps even
her captain. No doubt too, Stanley also had the opportunity again to see
and visit William Watson, his father living just ‘down the
In July 2000, The Texas Institute of Naval Archaeology ‘ road’ beside Skelmorlie Castle too. It might even be that
announced that it was working on “the recovery” of a British Stanley and Watson even crossed The Atlantic together that
paddle steamer, most likely a Clyde-built paddle steamer, year ?
believed to be a blockade-runner, which had run aground on
a sandbank in Galveston Bay during The Civil War and, In any case, there can be little doubt that H.M. Stanley,
despite the fact that she had reportedly been shelled after “The New York Herald” reporter, already knew a great deal
about Livingstone even before his editor gave him his LOWESTOFT to Winterton Ness or Orfordness
legendary assignment and that, when the they eventually
met, their conversation would inevitably turn to their mutual BELFAST coastwise to Rathlin Island or Portaferry
Wemyss Bay friendships. When Livingstone’s body was DONAGHADEE to Warrenpoint
brought back home for burial, in Westminster, his two
African servants, Susi and Chuma, came to Wemyss Bay to SOUTHAMPTON to Weymouth, Round The Isle of Wight
stay with ‘Paraffin’ Young at Kelly House. They built a replica and east to Newhaven
of Livingstone’s hut in the estate grounds and it lasted in WEYMOUTH to Start Point
fairly good condition until the 1930’s before being swamped PLYMOUTH to Exeter or The Lizard
by undergrowth.
GLASGOW inside line from Campbeltown Loch to
Turnberry and to Stranraer along the
west coast of the mainland
CAMPBELTOWN to Mull of Kintyre via Sanda Island
to Port Ellen or Gigha
to Red Bay or Ballycastle

CARDIFF from Bristol to Milford Haven in the north,

to Clovelly, inc. Lundy Is.
MILFORD HAVEN within a line from St David’s Head
in north to 1 mile beyond Smalls Islands in
the west and Linney Head in the south
“W A V E R L E Y” P a s s e n g e r Certificates ABERYSTWYTH to Bardsey Island in the north and St
(2001) David’s Head in the south and
excursions to Ilfracombe and
Class III not more than 18 miles offshore nor more Padstow and between Padstow and
than 70 miles from departure point Lundy Island
Class IV
LIVERPOOL to Rhyl, Llandudno and Holyhead but not
west of Beaumaris CARDIFF in Class D water at east end of Bristol
to Fleetwood, Heysham and Barrow LIVERPOOL within line from Formby Point to Point of
FLEETWOOD to Heysham, Barrow and Whitehaven Aif
HOLYHEAD to Llanddwyn Isles
CLACTON to Reculver
LONDON to Newhaven West to Worthing, Ryde, St
Catherine’s and Needles or East to BELFAST LOUGH within line between Carrickfergus and
Folkestone, Dover and Ramsgate Bangor
Ramsgate to Southend or Clacton
Harwich to Clacton or Orfordness SOUTHAMPTON or PORTSMOUTH
inside The Isle of Wight, bounded by Ardlamont Point to southern extreme of
the spire at West Wittering to Trinity Ettrick Bay and inside The Kyles of
Church, Bembridge to the east and The Bute
Needles and Hurst Pt.
also ( between June 5, 2001 and Sep 5,
GLASGOW inside line from Skipness to 1 mile 2001 )
south of Garroch Head to Farland Point
STRANRAER inside Loch Ryan to line between within a line drawn 2 miles off the
Finnart’s Point and Milleur Point Ayrshire Coast at Skelmorlie Castle to
KYLE OF LOCHALSH to head of Loch Duich Tomont End , Cumbrae
OBAN to 1 mile off line between Dunollie Point and a line drawn from Portachur Point,
and Ard Na Chruidh and line in the south Cumbrae to Green Point, Ayrshire
from Rudha Seanach to Ard Na Cuille
GREENOCK to Helensburgh, Kilcreggan and Dunoon,
Class V within a line drawn between Dunoon
and Cloch Point.
LIVERPOOL above Rock Light
LONDON above a north - south line through Denton NOTE Class III = 484 pass Class IV =
Pier, Gravesend 860 pass Class V = 925 pass
HARWICH within 1 mile from Blackmans Head, Crew = 15 / 19
Blackwater to Landguard Point
2 boats for 12 persons each;
CARLINGFORD LOUGH within line between Greenore and 24 liferafts for 24 persons each ( 480
Greencastle Point persons );
STRANGFORD LOUGH not south of Rue Point 1,048 lifejackets including 95 for under
BELFAST LOUGH within a line from Holywood to Macedon 32 kg.

SOUTHAMPTON within a line between Calshot Castle and

Hook Beacon
PORTSMOUTH within a line from Fort Blockhouse to The
Round Tower
Class V (continued)

POOLE HARBOUR not seaward of of the Chain

Ferry, Sandbanks to S. Haven

GLASGOW within a line from Bogany Point, Bute to

Skelmorlie Castle and a line from
Blair's Ferry, Bute - Ardlamont
Colintraive Ferry
Couslan - Inverchaolain, Loch Striven
Fionnphort - Iona Lazaretto ( White Farlane Point ) - Kilmun
Ulva Ferry Hunter's Quay - Strone
Corran - Ardgour Ardentinny - Coulport
Ballachulish Ferry Gigha - Tayinloan
Port Appin - Lismore Lagg (Jura) - Keills
Shian Ferry, Loch Creran Feolin (Jura) - Port Askaig (Islay)
Connel Ferry
Bonawe Ferry
Portsonachan Ferry
Portinsherrich - New York
Cuan Ferry
Seil - Luing
Kerrera Ferry
Inveraray - St. Catherine's
Otter Ferry
Dunmore, West Loch Tarbert
“Adamant”, 6 41 4
16 “Capri Express”, “Dalmuir”, “Endeavour”,
“Ala”, 119 41 44
119 “City of Corfu”, “Dasher”,
“Ali Cat”, 119 36 “Faithful”,
104 “City of Piraeus”, “Denbigh”, 7
“Amethyst”, HMS, 119 122
6 “Columba (I)”, “Duchess of Fife”, “Gantock”, pilot cutter,
“Ashton”, 120 4 23
13 “Comet”, “Duchess of Hamilton”, “Garroch Head”,
63 34, 118 41
“Balmoral”, “Countess of “Duchess of Montrose”, “Gay Queen”,
120 Breadalbane”, 13 31, 34 16
“Boer”, “Countess of Kempock”, “Dumbarton Castle”, “Gleaner”, HMS,
7 13 60, 74 36
“Cumbrae”, pilot cutter, “Dyarchy”, “Glen Sannox (III)”,
“Caledonia”, 23 41 119
119 “Gourockian”,
“Calvin B. Marshall”, “Dalmarnock”, “Empress of Scotland”, 13
17 119
“Hebridean Princess”, “Maid of Cumbrae”, “Royal Daffodil”,
113 79, 119 34
“Highland Seabird”, “Maid of Skelmorlie”,
103 119 “Saint Columba”,
“Hispaniola (II)”, “Maid of The Loch”, 53
11, 118 13 “Saxon”,
“Maids”, 6
“Inca”, 12 “Shanklin”,
7 “Marchioness of Lorne”, 120 Addison, John,
5 “Sheildhall”, 7
“Jeanie Deans”, 42 Ailsa Craig, 37,
11 “Nathaniel G. Dunlop”, 38
“Jennie Spears”, pilot cutter, “Talisman”, Ardnamurchan Lighthouse,
27 23 8, 44 22
“Norman”, “Titanic”, Ardrishaig,
“Kempock Lad”, 6 30 120
11, 44 “Turbinia”, Argyll County Council Ferries,
“Keppel”, “Old Caledonia”, 57, 83 125
119 119 August 1912,
“King Edward”, “U-33”, 42
84 “Port Star”, 36 Ayr,
“King George V”, 11 120
119 “Prince Ivanhoe”, “Valkyrie”,
“Knooz”, 120 4 ‘Banana Boats’,
119 “Princess Margaret”, “Vital Spark”, 41
34 6 Barometric pressure,
“Lady Guildford”, “Princess Victoria”, 73
17 27 “Waverley (IV)”, Beached,
“Lady Jane Ritchie”, “Queen Alexandra (I)”, 120 120
10 88 “Westering Home”, Better sea-boat,
“Lochfyne”, “Queen Mary II”, 13 36
13 118 Blasco de Garay,
“Queen Mary”, 57
“Maid of Argyll”, 119 Blue, Archie, engineer,
56, 119 12
“Maid of Ashton”, “Roman”, ‘Blue’ trains,
118, 119 6 15
“Maid of Bute”, “Rose”, Boat Trains and Connections,
47 100 Dale, Tom, chief purser, Ettrick Bay,
Boiler, Certificated passenger 37 42
70, 72 numbers, 30 Day Sea Rover, Euroyachts Ltd,
Boulton & Watt, Chatham, 2 11
59 118 Day Trips and Cruises, 8
Bow Rudders, Chinese chips, 46 Fair Head,
80 50 Docking Telegraphs’, 120
Breakfast, Luncheon, Christmas and New Year 79 Fairfield’s apprentices,
Dinner & Tea, Days, 41 Drag, 5
39 Christmas tree, 66 Fairfield’s yard,
Broken up, 41 Drains, 5
120 City Cruises of London, 73 Farmers’ Rules,
Burgh Chamberlain, Cove 119 Drying-out, 29
and Kilcreggan Town Cloch and Cumbrae Head 4 Ferries, Argyll County
Council, 11 Dunoon, Council, 125
Buses, lighthouses, 25 120 Ferry Good Idea,
6 Clyde Coast Services Ltd., 104
Butlin’s, 6 Early Memories, Fire,
55 Clyde Pilots, 4 119
23 Eccentric crank, First Commercial Passenger
CalMac, Coastal Steam Packet 57 Turbine
119 Company, 12 Edmondson, Thomas, Steamer, 5
Campbeltown, Coia brothers, ticket machines, First intentional reversing
120 24 28 of a marine
Campbeltown - Ireland Commentary books, End of regular steamers, engine, 74
car ferry service, 37 11 Fixed and Variable operating
105 Condenser, 59, 8 costs,
Campbeltown/Ballycastle 72 Engine Controls, 11
ferry figures, Conversion work, 74 0
111 119 Engine gauge readings, ‘Flick books’,
“Captain Pugwash”, Cross-trees, 73 24
8 80 Engine Room Telegraph(s), Floating restaurant,
Car Ferries, ‘Cumbrae Model Railway’, 76 118
12 24 Engine(s), Flywheel,
Cardiff, Cunard, 73 57
119 118 English Electric motor, Fog,
Carron Ironworks, Cut-off valve, 45 42
59 57 Espionage agents, Fuel Burning System,
Catamaran, 24 71
Fulton, Robert, 31 61 120
61 Mackendrick, Alexander, 6,
Hall Russell, Aberdeen, Keppel for Millport, 8
Gauges, Steam and Engine, 119 27 Mail Boats,
75 Hammerman’s Guild, Knox, John of Rothesay, 44
“Genevieve”, film, 58 17 Malta’s Valetta Harbour,
7 Hero of Alexandria,
George Prior’s yard, 57 Lady Friends, 11
119 High Tea, 10 9
German invasion, 39 Lamont’s dry-dock, Manoeuvres,
34 Highland Games, 118 53
Gigha, 44 Largs - Millport ferry, Marconi,
119 Horse Power, 119 54
Glasgow Numerical 66 Largs’ Boats, Maternal grand-father,
Printing Company, Horse power, different types, 27 36
28 68 Laurent Giles, McIntyre’s, Peter,
Glasgow’s Anderston Quay, Hostesses, 41 17
120 37 Licensing Laws, Mediterranean,
Glasgow’s Stobcross Quay, Hovercraft, 20 119
120 100 Lifeboat building, Mid-Saturday Morning,
Gollings, Frank, Hull inspection, 30 Gourock, 13
6 119 Lifeboats, Millennium Dome,
Good Spirits”, Hungerford Bridge, London, 30 110
40 118 Life-jackets, Millport Illuminations,
Gourock, 30 50
120 Inveraray, Livingstone, Dr. David, Montclare”,
Gourock to Dunoon, 24 122 16
10 Iona ‘Sunday Breaker’, Livingstone’s hut, replica of, Morse Code,
Gower Coast, 21 122 33
120 Ipswich, London, Mount Stuart House,
Green, Hughie and Monica 119 119 17
Rose, 101 Irish Ferry timetable London Eye/Millennium “Murder She Wrote”, theme
Greenock Academy, proposals, 107 Wheel, 110 music, 7
11 Long Beach, Music Lessons,
Greenock’s East India J.C.B. digger, 118 6
Harbour, 118 13
Gregg, Hubert, James Watt, M’Callum, John, mate, Newcastle’s Science
7 58 22 Museum, 83
Guided Tour, Jet propulsion, MacBrayne’s, Newcomen, Thomas,
57 Portsmouth, 18 75
120 Royal Route, Steam and Engines,
P. & A. Campbell, Propellors, 120 57
55 118 ‘Rum’ and ‘The Dugs’, Steam carriage,
Paddle float, Puffer on Subway, 22 59
68 7 Ryde, Steam engine, basic parts,
Paddle Steamer Puffers, 6, 120 69
Preservation Society, 70 Steam engines,
120 Saturday Marathon, 68
Paddle Wheel Floats and Radar, 9 Steam heating,
Shafts, 81 18, 42 School Tripping, 71
Paddle Wheels, Radio, 48 Steam Whistles,
66, 81 18, 33 Schooner-rigged, motor 82
Paddle-wheels, Railway and Farmers’ Rules, yacht, 27 Steamboat Pioneers,
68 29 Scottish Licensing Act, 1976, 60
‘Page 3’ girl, Rathlin Island, 20 Steamer Bands,
5 120 Ship Handling Principles, 23
Paisley Harbour, Red Bay, 76 Steamer Commentaries,
56 120 “Ship Steward’s Training 37
Papin, Denys, Red Sea, Manual”, 18 Stranraer,
57 119 Shipyard strike, 34
“Para Handy”, Regulating Throttle’, 5 Submarine,
6 74 Singer’s Sewing Machine 120
Paraffin’ Young at Kelly Ritchie Brothers, 11, factory, 9 Submerged reef,
House, 122 44 Skelmorlie Bowling Club, 120
Parallel motion, Ritchie, Walter Roy, 4 ‘Sunday-breaker’ trip,
57 13 Skelmorlie Measured Mile, 20
Pearson’s Garage, Ross & Marshall, 24
15 7 “Smallest Bar on The Clyde”, Tarbert,
Pentland Ferries, Rothesay, 13 120
112 52 Smoking Stacks, Tayinloan,
Pier Signals, Rothesay Pier Fire, 58 119
15 17 South Portland Suspension Telegraph orders,
Pilgrim ship, Rothesay to Gourock, Bridge, 7 51
119 18 Spanish Inquisition, Telegraph(s),
Pilkington Glass, Rothesay’s Berths 57 76
41 and Boat Operators, Stanley, Henry Morton, Telegraphs,
Portpatrick lifeboat, 16 121 80
27, 34 Rothesay’s secondary school, Starting Steam Lever, Teletext Weather Pages,
99 73
Texas Institute Viking Cinema, Largs,
of Naval Archaeology, 6
‘The Bun Run’ to Water density,
Craigendoran, 11 79
‘The Crossing Rule’, Water Feed System,
22 72
“The Cruel Sea”, Water pressure,
6 67
‘The Narrows’, Water temperatures,
53 72
Tickets, 28, Watt, James,
29 58
Tides, “Waverley”
90 Passenger Certificates,
Total loss, 123
119 Weather,
Tourist trading patterns, 96
107 Wee Cumbrae,
Tourist traffic figures, 27, 43
107 Wemyss Bay
Troops, Arrivals and
34 Departures, 15
Turbine Steamers, West ‘Yacht’ Channel,
82 53
Turbines, Wetted surface area,
80 67
Twin-Screw Turnarounds, Wheel speed,
55 67
Twin-Screws, Wheelhouse,
80 33

Under-shot mill wheels,


Valves and drains,