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P Donald M. Kelly .
The right of P. Donald M. Kelly to be identified as Author of this book is hereby identified by him in accordance with The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
P Donald M. Kelly .
P Donald M. Kelly .
now has pride of place in Armitage Shanks historic collection in Staffordshire.
“There is an immense conversation in the sea” (The 8th Duke of Argyll)
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the 1964 summer season when both the turbine-driven “Duchess of Montrose” and the paddle-steamer “Jeannie Deans” were withdrawn from service. In the half dozen or so years that followed, the traditional pier-to-pier passenger services and links quickly shrank and disappeared leaving only an unintegrated skeleton of car ferry services to meet commuter and tourist needs. I was brought up in the Ayrshire village of Skelmorlie, beside and overlooking Wemyss Bay. The Clyde’s steamers and ships were then very much part of everyday life and my father, the Customs and Excise’s Landing Officer at Prince’s Dock in Glasgow in the 1950’s, had me well schooled in the ways of the ships from an early age. Our house, built by my parents, directly overlooked the start of Skelmorlie’s Measured Mile and Wemyss Bay’s Pier and Railway Station and, in winter, with the leaves fallen from the trees, I could see the very spot where the little “Kintyre” had sunk in 1907, the year before my mother was born. As events transpired, I would buy my very first car from ‘the (then) schoolboy’, Ninian Stewart, who had rowed out in a boat and rescued John M’Kechnie, the skipper of the “Kintyre”, after she had been sunk by the “Maori”. One of the “Kintyre’s” white porcelain toilet pans, in near pristine condition and brought to the surface in recent years, ii
The geographically and socially ‘twinned’ villages of Skelmorlie and Wemyss Bay were home to many well known shipping and shipbuilding families, the Scott’s and the Denholm’s; the Dunn’s of Harrison’s and the Willan’s of Constantine Lines and to the Dunnet’s who now own Ferguson’s Port Glasgow shipyard. The villages were also 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 interests and not just to the Clyde Steamers themselves. At the end of the 1890’s, a decision was taken to double-up most the railway line from Port Glasgow to Wemyss Bay and to rebuild Wemyss Bay’s railway station and pier. The new station-pier complex, the Queen Anne-style station with its half-circle passenger concourse and sixty-foot high clock tower, designed by The Caledonian Railway Company’s own architect James Miller, opened on Monday, December 7, 1903 and drew immediate acclaim, not least from a party of Japanese railway and shipping company directors staying at Castle Wemyss as Lord Inverclyde’s guests, there being then, as even now, many business links between Scotland and Japan. Such was the admiration of the Japanese officials that they asked for copies of the plans for Wemyss Bay’s new stationpier complex returning to Japan with the intention of building an identical ‘twin’ terminus for themselves. Having grown up overlooking this most beautiful and functional of all Scotland and Britain’s railway termini and been fortunate enough to have enjoyed the final days of the real Clyde steamers, I would like to think that what follows here will encourage armchair sailors and today’s anoraked Clyde Steamer enthusiasts go ‘Doon The Watter’ again in the old Clyde Steamers.
..... The first section of the book focuses on a ‘composite’ account of a 1950’s/1960’s Saturday when it was possible to travel on most of the Clyde steamer fleet and spend the afternoon down-firth cruising round Ailsa Craig on the “Duchess of Montrose”, included in the account are recollections and details of many, now largely forgotten, ‘goings-on’ of these ‘halcyon days’. The next section of the book is about steam engines and some of the more notable and early ships. While the early development of marine engines owed much to the contributions of James Watt, the Americans too were at the forefront of their early trials.
and Weather 96
Teletext Weather Pages 99 The Hovercraft and The Catamaran 100 A Ferry Good Idea 104 The “Hebridean Princess” 113 From “Queen To Knooz” 118 Keeping Up Steam 120 An Overseas Mystery 120
Keeping Up Steam 1 Day Sea Rover 2 Steam and Engines 57 Time for Tides 90 iii
Waverley Passenger Certificates (2001) 123 Argyll County Council Ferries (1909) 125
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 (18891914)”, Brian Patton’s “Scottish Coastal Steamers 19181975”, Fraser G. MacHaffie’s “The Short Sea Route”, Fred M. Walker’s “Song of The Clyde”, the many works of Ian McCrorie whose own grandfather was station master at Wemyss Bay, to the pages of “Ships Monthly” and “Sea Breezes”, to many old and local newspapers and to a miscellany of steamer enthusiast sources and references. A special note of thanks to my late father who developed my interests in shipping and to Duncan MacMillan of Kintyre’s Antiquarian and Historical Society without whose generosity and support little of this work would have been possible, to Duncan Ritchie of Carradale, to Hamish Mackinven of Edinburgh, to Captain John Leesmoffat, to the late Ian Shannon and to the many other, some long departed, friends that I made through our mutual interest in ‘steamers’ and The Strathmartine Trust. Donald Kelly, Kintyre, 2004.
Note on Paging and Indexes
On occasion, the page numbers in the indexes may not correspond exactly with the pages in the texts and the reader may, most usually, have to scan the page following that listed for the desired reference. The reason for these ‘discrepancies’ is simple. The original texts and indexes were prepared using Lotus WordPro 97 software, it being chosen because Lotus allows allows the user to print out A5 booklets, Microsoft Word software programs denying this and only allowing users to print out A5 ‘booklet page layouts’ on A4 sheets ! Microsoft Publisher software programs will, with a lot of patience, allow A5 booklets to be printed but not everyone has Microsot Publisher available to them and for that reason these texts and indexes have been transferred to Microsoft Word discs 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. iv
Donald Kelly, Kintyre, 2004.
Clyde Steamers On Video
hough the days of the Clyde Steamers are now but distant memories, the atmosphere and prosperity of their times has been captured and preserved on a number of VHS-video films which will trigger many people’s memories of their own childhood days and the glories of summers past. Readers of “Ships Monthly” and “Sea Breezes” magazines will already be familiar with the advertisements of companies and indeed individuals from whom such video films can be purchased and a list from Mainmast Books, 251 Copnor Road, Portsmouth, Hants. PO3 5EE Telephone number 023-9264-5555 is indicative of those available. CLYDE STEAMER MEMORIES (Part 1) (8356) £21.99* recording the period from 1919 to 1949 its commentary given by Largs-based BBC presenter Iain Anderson. Black and White * CLYDE STEAMER MEMORIES (Part 2) (8357) £21.15* continues the story from 1949 through to 1989. Colour * CLYDE STEAMER MEMORIES (16180) £21.99* * DOON THE WATER (16252) £ 9.99* is a compilation of British Transport Commission films, the “Coasts of Clyde”, its commentary by the late Bernard Braden, includes film
of the turbine steamer “Duchess of Montrose” on a trip to Arran. * WEST HIGHLAND STEAMER MEMORIES (16201) £19.99* looks at the MacBrayne fleet and West Highland services. * PADDLE STEAMERS OF LOCH LOMOND (16195) £18.88* 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 1997 covers her first 50 years around the coasts. (16196) £18.99* * Excursion Ships in The Wake of The Paddlers (16314) £12.99* features 21 ships from around the U.K. including “Waverley” and “Balmoral” and the ill-fated “Southsea” which, as the “Prince Ivanhoe”, was wrecked on the Welsh Gower Coast. * Ships of The Clyde (16194) £18.99* shows the vast variety of ships, from clippers to liners, from paddle steamers to tugs, which appeared on the Clyde between 1859 and 1959. * Isle of Man Steam Packet The Island Lifeline (16148) £19.99* features the Manx ‘baby-liners’“Lady of Mann” and “BenMy-Chree” which often sailed from Ardrossan to Douglas and too looks at the cargo and ‘ro-ro’ car ferries on the Isle of Man services. * The Video Film Prices Listed Here should be checked with advertisers.
Keeping Up Steam
his is a book for ‘arm-chair sailors’ and coastal excursion enthusiasts alike and it is hoped that anyone who has in an interest in ‘steamers’ will read and reread the work of other authors with special and renewed interest for, given the insights and materials here, they 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 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 enthusiast books on the Clyde and other steamers. While most of such books go into great detail about the individual ships and operating companies etc., few authors attempt to give their readers any real feel of how they operated and the aim here is to take the reader around the Clyde and, hopefully, to broaden the reader’s view and understanding of how the ships operated in service. Withdrawn from service at the end of the 1973 season, the 1947-built paddle-steamer “Waverley (IV)” was handed over to The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society in 1974 and, after an inaugural cruise on the Thursday, gave her first public sailing on Saturday, May 24, 1975, an excursion from Glasgow’s Anderston Quay to Gourock, Dunoon, Tarbert and Ardrishaig, the old ‘Royal Route’ of MacBrayne’s mail steamer service. Three years later, on Saturday, June 24, 1978, she repeated the excursion as a centennial tribute to MacBrayne’s famous paddle-steamer “Columba” leaving Glasgow’s Stobcross Quay at 7.11 a.m.. To complement “Waverley (IV)” and generate more funds for her upkeep, another consortium refurbished the former Portsmouth - Ryde passenger ferry “Shanklin” and, 1
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 Gower Coast on Monday, August 3, 1981 and, safely beached to evacuate her passengers and crew, she was subsequently broken up where she lay. Five years later, in 1986, “Waverley (IV)” was joined by the twin-screw 1949built “Balmoral”.
DAY SEA ROVER
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 indulge my interests in the Clyde Steamers and, despite the passing of the years, I have clear memories of the many happy days that I spent steaming around the Clyde in summer and winter. Things That Went ‘Thump-Thump-Thump’ In The Night One of my first memories was the ‘thump-thump-thump’ sound of the diesel-engined Burns-Laird/Coast Lines ships passing up and down river on the Irish run in, what was then to me, the middle of the night. Begun in 1826, the Glasgow and Londonderry service operated for a full 140 years, the route’s final passenger sailing, from ‘Derry to Glasgow Saturday, September 10, 1966. On alternate nights, at about 9 p.m., the little 1944built “Lairds Loch” would wake me up as she passed Skelmorlie on her outward run and then, returning up-river on the following night, I would hear her engines again somewhere between 3 and 4 a.m.. The “Lairds Loch”, withdrawn from the ‘Derry service and only occasionally used for reliefs, was sold in January 1969 and, after sailing via The Cape of Good Hope for The Gulf of Aqaba, took up
service - complete with her old Scottish cutlery - on a new thrice-weekly service between Eilat and Sharm-el-Sheikh, an eight hour crossing. Running aground and suffering heavy damage in a difficult location some seven miles away from her Sharm-el-Sheikh terminus on September 3, 1970, she was written off and scrapped. Nightly, except Saturdays, I would hear the engines of the ships on Burns-Laird’s nightly Glasgow - Belfast service, it operated by the “Royal Scotsman” and “Royal Ulsterman”. The “Royal Scotsman” made her final run, from Belfast to Glasgow, on the evening of Friday, September 29, 1967 being replaced by newer 1957 Belfastbuilt “Scottish Coast” which had been operating the summer-only ‘daylight’ Ardrossan - Belfast ‘car-ferry’ service. Then the “Royal Ulsterman”, her final sailing on Saturday, December 30, 1967, was withdrawn leaving the “Scottish Coast” to continue the overnight Glasgow to Belfast service on her own till its closure at the end of August 1969. At the end of October 1967, the “Royal Scotsman” was sold to The Hubbard Exploration Co. Ltd., a body which caused great stir in the press and Parliament when it was found that it embraced the cult of Scientology. Renamed “Royal Scotman”, the ship sailed for Sierra Leone and the port of Freetown where she was duly registered under her newly adapted name. Her sister-ship, the “Royal Ulsterman” was sold to shipbuilders Cammel Laird on March 29, 1968 and, after being used to accommodate shipyard workers on a contract at Southampton, was sold to Mediterranean Link Lines of Famagusta, she arrived at Piraeus on May 1, 1970 and almost immediately began a fortnightly service between Marseilles and Haifa with calls at Naples and Famagusta on the outward runs and then at Limassol, Piraeus and Genoa on her return trip. The “Scottish Coast”, now withdrawn from the Glasgow 2
Belfast service at the end of August 1969 and deposed from the, now all-year, Ardrossan- Belfast service by the introduction of the new purpose-built car-ferry “Lion” at the beginning of 1968, was sold to the Greek Kavounides Shipping in November 1969 and, totally rebuilt as the “Galaxias”, began offering short three and four day long cruises in the summer of 1970. The last of the nightly ‘thumps’ came from the 1952-built “Irish Coast”, designed primarily to systematically relieve the other Coast Lines’ Irish Sea crossing ships for overhauls, had been operating the thrice-weekly overnight Glasgow Dublin service since 1964, the route closing with her final sailing from Dublin to Glasgow on the evening of Saturday, February 10, 1968. She then covered on the Glasgow-Belfast service until she too was withdrawn, her final sailing being from Glasgow on Wednesday, April 10, 1968 and was sold to the Epirtiki Steamship Co. “George Potamianos” S.A. of Piraeus leaving Birkenhead, renamed “Orpheus”, on August 22, 1968, for Greece. Now a 300-passenger cruise ship, the “Orpheus” attracted interest of a group of Glasgow businessmen who formed The Enso Atlantic Shipping Company Ltd. to explore the possibility of chartering her for the 1969 season and reviving the recently abandoned Liverpool - Greenock - Montreal route which had previously been operated by The Canadian Pacific Railway Company. Operating the ship as the “Eros”, the company proposed giving substantial fare discounts to expats and senior citizens, students and other bodies and groups but, beyond the company’s assertion of good intentions, the venture sank without trace. Early Memories Going to Skelmorlie Primary School in the early 1950’s - the school opened by the then Skelmorlie resident William Thomson, he later to be Lord Kelvin, on Tuesday, September 25, 1866 - I awoke to the sound of paddles, first those of
the beautiful little “Duchess of Fife” and later, after her withdrawal, to those of the “Marchioness of Lorne”. The “Duchess of Fife”, familiar to me on the Wemyss Bay Largs - Millport - Kilchattan Bay service, was unusual in that, though she had a triple expansion engine, her Rankin & Blackmore engine had only two crank rods to the paddleshaft. Given two high-pressure cylinders, one aligned to the intermediate and the other to the low-pressure cylinder, the cylinder pistons joined in tandem to drive each crank-rod. Fitted with an impulse valve allowing steam from the boilers to be sent direct to the intermediate cylinder, effectively bypassing and isolating the high-pressure cylinders and allowing the engine to be run as a simple ‘two-cylinder’ compound engine, the “Duchess of Fife” could produce rapid, though short-lived, bursts of speed to race her rivals to piers. Another of my early favourites was The Canadian Pacific Railway liner “Empress of Scotland” (ex- “Empress of Japan”) and she, the “Duchess of Fife” and the “Jeanie Deans” were all designed by Professor Percy Hillhouse, Fairfield Shipyard’s own naval architect. While the little “Duchess of Fife” had cost £6,038 9s 6d, the bigger and 30-year younger “Jeanie Deans” cost £52,650 - I never found out what the “Empress of Scotland” cost. The “Empress of Scotland” was centre-piece on Skelmorlie Bowling Club’s lapel badge and the club’s flagpole had been once the mainmast of the America Cup ‘J-Class’ challenger “Valkyrie”. Although generally unrecorded, the “Duchess of Fife”, at least on one occasion, dropped her gangway at Wemyss Bay Pier and just nineteen minutes later began unloading her passengers at Rothesay ! Although once a common practice, supposedly long officially abandoned, I remember seeing the “Duchess of Fife” 3
lying dried out on Kilchattan Bay’s sandy beach to have her hull anti-fouled - Loch Riddon and The Holy Loch were also well-suited for drying-out to allow painting and hull inspections. The “Duchess of Fife” was withdrawn on Saturday, June 6, 1953 and just a year earlier, on Tuesday, June 10, 1952, I came home from school at lunchtime and watched the veteran turbine “King Edward” being towed down to the shipbreaker’s yard at Troon. The World’s Steamer First Commercial Passenger Turbine
My only memory of being on board the “King Edward” is of the maze of steam pipes around the engine room and the fact that her engine control platform was right down on the bottom ‘lower’ deck. One of her original chief engineers stayed in Skelmorlie, just along the road from my parents and he told my father that, despite the reports in the marine engineering press, the “King Edward” consumed just 11 tons of coal per day, not the 18 tons that was recorded in the official records, a figure that was only reached if the ship had ‘been obliged’ to race against her rivals in her early sailing days. This old retired chief engineer remarked to my father that there were at least two full railway coal yards in the area “to which all-comers would be welcome” when he died for the coal was already paid for and nobody except himself knew its proper destination ! ‘Page 3’ Girl And so to the little “Marchioness of Lorne”, too slow for the Millport run and broken up in February 1955. Built by Fairfield’s yard, in 1935, there was a shipyard strike on the go at the time and, as the companies were desperate to get the new ship in service, the finishing of the ship was left to Fairfield’s apprentices who were excluded from the
strike. Known later to only a handful of people was the fact that, in her lower saloon, the mischievous apprentices fitted a most wonderfully crafted piece of marquetry, an inlaid wooden panel showing a full frontal 1930’s style ‘Page 3’ girl ! Sadly, though all the apprentices received handsome bonuses for finishing the ship quickly, the companies’ directors, rather than remove the ‘young lady’, simply had a slightly larger and plain wood panel ‘screwed’, if that is the appropriate word, on top of the apprentices’ work ! Music Lessons Next on the Millport run was the diesel-electric “Talisman” and, as she took up the run in 1954, I began going for piano lessons in Largs - by ‘steamer’ as it was about six-pence cheaper than going by bus and that sixpence saved allowed me to uses the buses from Largs Pier to my music teacher’s house. These were the days when buses were virtually as ‘unique’ as the steamers and Clyde Coast Services Ltd. bus fleet then included four Crossley-bodied Crossley double-deckers, a 1929 Daimler wooden-seated double decker and a new flatfronted Leyland ‘Royal Tiger’ (?) single-decker 45-seat service bus. Though I was only nine-years old when the “Talisman” took up the Millport run, I was allowed to travel to music lessons on my own, partly ‘chaperoned’ by the Skelmorlie lady who ran the little shop on board the “Talisman”, her own daughter too being a music teacher. This lady was too a friend of Nicholas Monsarrat, the author of “The Cruel Sea” which was made into a film and around that same period Frank Gollings, who devised and wrote the screenplay for “The Yangtse Incident”, the film story of H.M.S. “Amethyst” also moved to Skelmorlie. Frank Gollings’ friendship with film director Alexander Mackendrick had also 4
led to the making of the famous 1953-made puffer film “The Maggie”, a film and story which, to my mind, is vastly superior to any of the BBC’s attempts to bring “Para Handy” into life on television. Puffers The Rothesay-based “Norman” which had taken the last Campbeltown & Machrihanish railway locomotive to the Ayrshire scrapyards, the Millport-based “Saxon” which had been employed as the “Vital Spark” to make the first BBC television series of “Para Handy Tales” and the Brodickbased “Roman” were an integral part of the scene in my childhood days and I can still remember something of my excitement when I was taken to see “The Maggie” at the old Viking Cinema in Largs. “Calvin B. Marshall” Calvin B. Marshall was of course the somewhat brash, impetuous and quite luckless American tycoon whose material sacrifice was rewarded when his name was bestowed on one of Scotland’s well-remembered and famous but fictional ships, a puffer, the “Maggie”. The whimsical story, dreamed up by the film’s director Alexander Mackendrick, was written into a ‘screenplay’ by William Rose who wrote the script for “Genevieve”. The music for “The Maggie” was written by John Addison who composed the music for the “Murder She Wrote” television series. The 1953 Ealing comedy film “The Maggie” is a wicked little satire on the mutual contempt that even today underlies Euro-American relations and in many ways the seemingly leisurely, gentle-humoured and happily-concluded tale is indeed somewhat cruel rather than quaint.
Enter Calvin B. Marshall (Paul Douglas) as the American airways tycoon who’s building a new house on a Hebridean island and needs some building supplies delivered fast so that the job can be finished in time for his anniversary. Enter Captain MacTaggart (played by former Kirkintilloch schoolmaster Alex Mackenzie) and the crew of the “Maggie”, her part played by John Hay & Sons’ puffers “Boer” and “Inca”, both broken up in 1965. Enter a low tide in Glasgow and a case of mistaken identity and then, even before the chase begins, the headlines ‘Puffer on Subway’ ! Though in the film, the ‘puffer’ was in fact a beautifully detailed full-size mock- up, the incident was based on real fact for Warnock’s puffer “Faithful” had indeed once grounded at low tide on top of the Glasgow subway tunnel, near the historic 1853-built South Portland Suspension Bridge, the bridge, with its 144 iron tendons, designed by one Alexander Kirkland and built by one George Martin to replace the wooden structure which had spanned the river since 1833. When the chase begins, it is by air and a de Havilland Rapide bi-plane and to Kintyre. Then up ‘the West Road’ of Kintyre to the Crinan Canal where poor Mr Pussey (Hubert Gregg), Marshall’s ‘side-kick’, gets arrested for poaching and pushing the local Laird into the canal ! And then of course there is the ceilidh, the 100th birthday party for the old, now toothless mate of the “Maggie”. Outside the party, Mr Marshall - his name from the well-know Greenock puffer owners, Ross & Marshall - he gains something of an insight into decision making when in conversation with a girl who is being wooed by the local shop-keeper and a 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 away on other things like the shop-keeper building up his business(es)’ ! It is little surprising that this film has stood the test of time for it was made by Alexander Mackendrick who was 5
undoubtedly one of The World’s most talented film directors, he too being responsible for making “Whisky Galore !“ “The Man in The White Suit” and “The Ladykillers” in the Ealing Studios. Mackendrick, an American-Scot, was born in September 1912 and was the son of Scottish parents who had eloped to Boston. At the age of six, his father had died of flu and he was brought home by his grand-parents and raised in Glasgow, where he went on to attend Glasgow’s School of Art. He made short advertising films for Ovaltine and then had joined The Ministry of Information where he made a short film on ‘V.D.’ which earned him promotion to the Psychological Warfare Branch and then, at the end of WWII, he oversaw the re-launching of the Italian film industry before returning to London and then Ealing Studios. Shortly after making “The Ladykillers”, Mackendrick went to America where he directed the film noir classic “Sweet Smell of Success” with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis and then, after directing several films unsuited to his talents, he retreated to teach his film skills to other rising stars in California where he died, aged 81, in 1993. “Talisman” Despite the view of many, the “Talisman” was actually quite a good sea-boat and only one of her skippers, known to steamer enthusiasts and crews alike as “Captain Pugwash” ever seemed to have problems with her, that skipper regularly dropping her anchor, as a ‘kedge anchor’, when berthing alongside the solid front concrete wall of Largs Pier in even moderate swells. The “Talisman” too, though it is not on record, did in fact relieve the turbine steamer “Duchess of Montrose” on the long run to Inveraray and, as I witnessed, the “Talisman”, despite her low power, returned to Wemyss Bay, on her homeward run, exactly on time ! Her chief engineer on that 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’, the “Duchess of Hamilton”, on the Rothesay to Largs run at the end of her career in 1964. The “Talisman”, the first ever diesel-electric paddler, witnessed the trials of all five of The Admiralty’s ‘Director’ Class diesel-electric paddle tugs, their paddle-wheels, unlike a passenger steamer’s, able to operate independently, were built on the Clyde between 1957 and 1959 and were the only paddle tugs ever in service with any navy. “Talisman” herself was broken up in 1967 and, while her unique, slow revving, ‘English Electric’ motor was scrapped, her diesel engines got another lease of life at Singer’s Sewing Machine factory in Clydebank. The Saturday Marathon On summer Saturdays, my music lesson in Largs over and having returned to Wemyss Bay on the “Talisman”, I joined my parents for the weekly ‘pilgrimage’ to Ailsa Craig on the “Duchess of Montrose”, returning in the evening to Largs where we changed on to the “Talisman” for the return to Wemyss Bay. In later, teenage, years, I occasionally turned this outing into a long day trip taking the first and last Wemyss Bay buses to make the best use of all the day’s connections which allowed maximum scope for travelling on most, but certainly not all, of the Clyde steamers and motor ships, the scheme of those days may now be of interest to those who aspire towards ‘integrated transport’ timetabling ! Starters’ Orders The day would start boarding the first, 5.50 a.m., bus from Wemyss Bay to Gourock. This was nominally a ‘worker’s bus’ - even Christmas Day was not a public holiday in Scotland until 1958 ! Most usually the bus was one of Western S.M.T’s single-deck AEC’s or Leyland half-cab’s and its terminus was then at Glasgow’s St. Enoch railway station. 6
Arriving at Gourock some twenty minutes later, one walked along the length of Gourock Pier, down to ‘the wires’, at the east end of the pier, near the present-day CalMac offices, where the “Duchess of Montrose”, “Duchess of Hamilton” and, up-river from Ayr for the weekend, the paddle steamer “Caledonia” were moored overnight and would already be raising steam for the busy morning ahead. Also there would be one of the four “Maid” Class motor vessels, the “Maid of Ashton” herself always being berthed overnight at Kilmun for The Holy Loch service. Gourock to Dunoon At 6.45 a.m. our real day began on board the car ferry “Arran”, on rare occasion relieved by “Cowal”, for the first run to Dunoon. It was of course time for breakfast and everything was hot and fresh. Freshly baked morning rolls with fluffy scrambled eggs and scalding hot coffee cooled with ‘Carnation’ milk ! The company had its own bakery at Gourock and, in the winter-time, with no excursion sailings on the go, the bakery specialised in turning out and icing numerous wedding cakes for local brides. The first, 7.25 a.m., return run from Dunoon became quite a source of entertainment after the American submarine base was opened in The Holy Loch in 1961 and it was in no way unusual to find a large number of ‘young ladies’ returning to Gourock after, as one Greenock court sheriff phrased it, the “rough and tumble of a Friday night in The Highlands” ! Such were the profits of the trade that one ‘young lady’ was able to buy herself a brand new Ford Cortina just three weeks after the arrival of the first American submarine. Approaching Gourock and making a full sweep of the bay to return alongside Berth ‘A’, beside the river pilot station, we would see our second ship of the day, the “Maid of Ashton”, approaching from Kilcreggan. Fun With Lady Friends
The “Lady Jane Ritchie”, a 1946-built single screw 45-foot motor passenger launch owned by Ritchie Brothers who also operated on the Gourock - Kilcreggan run, would too be returning to Gourock around this time. She was distinctive in that she had a a little yellow exhaust funnel and a short mast just forward of a small wheelhouse, these perched on top of her engine casing. Built by the Ritchie brothers themselves, she was a good sea boat and she was used on summer Sunday nights to bring the entertainers, playing at Rothesay’s Pavilion, back to Wemyss Bay to pick up their cars. On one of these occasions, a wild and stormy autumn night, the entertainers had piled on board her, at the steps beside Rothesay’s inner harbour swing bridge and settled themselves under the tarpaulin awning which covered her forward half. Nearing Toward Lighthouse, one of the passengers had stuck his head out of the shelter to see where they were and noticed that the boat’s navigation lights weren’t switched on. He scrambled aft and opened the wheelhouse’s little half-door. “Fine mister”, replied a little squeaky voice and, peering into the gloom of the wheelhouse, the passenger suddenly realised that the boat was being steered by a small boy, his baby brother, perched on a stool and tied with rope on to the side of the wheelhouse. “My faither got blitzed in the pub an’ I thought I’d better come for you myself ! “ - the boy himself was then just ten years old ! I often used the “Lady Jane Ritchie” to visit some ‘nonblood’ aunts and an uncle in Kilcreggan where too lived the Roy family who crossed everyday to go to school with me at Greenock Academy, their father was Burgh Chamberlain for Cove and Kilcreggan Town Council, their office then being in Greenock. Ritchie Brothers owned another two passenger launches, the fully-open “Port Star” and the “Kempock Lad”, she, as 7
the “Lady of Lorn”, having run on Loch Etive from 1952 till 1955. The “Lady Jane Ritchie” was sold in 1992. “Hispaniola II” and ‘The Bun Run’ to Craigendoran Our course was now direct to Craigendoran with bakery produce and meat for the “Jeanie Deans” and the “Waverley”, the former due out at 10.10 a.m. and the latter at 12.40 p.m.. Leaving Craigendoran at 8.40 a.m., we headed for Kilcreggan and Gourock and, staying on board the “Maid of Ashton”, then proceed direct to Kilmun for 10 a.m. and then to Blairmore and Kilcreggan and back again to find a berth at Gourock. Laid up in 1971 ‘for reasons of economy’, the “Maid of Ashton” left The Clyde in January 1973 to be converted into a floating bar-restaurant on The Thames where she was renamed “Hispaniola II” and moored near Hungerford Bridge, not far from where the former Clyde turbine steamer “Queen Mary” is moored today. Bought by City Cruises, one of London’s best-known river-boat cruise operators, the “Maid of Ashton” took to open waters again in the autumn of 2002 when she was towed round to Great Yarmouth for an hull and insurance survey. The “Jeanie Deans”, withdrawn at the end of the 1964 season, was sold at the end of 1965 to The Coastal Steam Packet Company for further service from London to Herne Bay and Clacton. She left Greenock on November 5 for the Thames, her chief engineer for the delivery trip having walked off the ship that morning and Archie Blue found himself being ‘hijacked’ in a Greenock street to take her south, the first night as far as Inverkip ! Without an experienced engineer to look after her boiler problems, she, renamed “Queen of The South”, only completed eight days sailing in the 1966 season and the boiler was very necessarily retubed during the following winter, a bow rudder, alleviating the need for tugs at Tower Pier, also being fitted at the same time. Her 1967 sailing
season, from Saturday June 24 to Wednesday July 12, when she suffered more boiler problems and a damaged paddlewheel, was her last and, at the end of the year, she was scrapped in Belgium. “Maids” versus Car Ferries It being but a few years since the end of World War II when these ships were built, their designs were to some degree dictated by Admiralty considerations, the “Maids”, with their low sterns, suitable for quick conversion to minesweepers and rescue ships and the car ferries, then fitted too with twin cargo derricks, easily adapted for use as transport ships. Neither ship design was really passenger-friendly, not least the steep and narrow-treaded passenger stairways with but thin handrails. The “Maids” were indeed very lively seaboats and on one occasion a Rothesay minister was reported on his knees praying for safe delivery to home or Heaven ! The car ferries were indeed vastly superior sea-boats and, despite the unprotected openings from the car hoist into the main deck level, as it was called, ‘garage’ there were never any reports of flooding or damage. The lack of thought in these matters is quite surprising in view of the fact that, just months before the hulls of these car ferries launched, the Stranraer - Larne car ferry “Princess Victoria” had come to grief, her stern loading door at fault, on January 31, 1953. Mid-Saturday Morning at Gourock By now it was 10.20 a.m. and an hour earlier, at 9.20 a.m., the “Lochfyne”, which had lain overnight at Greenock’s Custom’s House Quay, had sailed on the mail run, for Dunoon - Innellan - Rothesay - Tighnabruiach - Tarbert and Ardrishaig. The “Duchess of Hamilton”, sailing for Campbeltown within minutes of the “Lochfyne” leaving Gourock, would by now be in Rothesay and their berths at Gourock were now occupied by “Caledonia” and the 8
“Jeanie Deans”. “The Smallest Bar on The Clyde” As we now arrived at Gourock, Walter Roy Richie’s 61½-foot converted Admilraly M.F.V. “Granny Kempock”, with “the smallest bar on The Clyde”, would be leaving on her first run of the day to Helensburgh, a summer service that began back in 1950. Walter Roy Richie, who died in 1978 and whose bridge-playing widow survived to the age of 98, was a distinctive and interesting character, thick pebbled wirerimmed glasses and a little white West Highland terrier always at his side. He had an intimate knowledge of The Tail of Bank waters and during World War II had been involved in operating Thames sailing barges around the anchorage. He also owned the ex-Admiralty Harbour Launch “Westering Home” and, in 1965, having bought The Caledonian Steam Packet Company’s former Largs - Millport ferry “Ashton”, renamed “Gourockian”, then replaced her in at the beginning of 1972 with their “Countess of Breadalbane” which he re-named “Countess of Kempock” to cover the Gourock - Blairmore - Kilmun route then abandoned by The Caledonian Steam Packet Company. The “Countess”, built originally for the Loch Awe service and ‘roaded’ to the Clyde in 1952, was again ‘roaded’ to Loch Lomond in 1982 and later, after some time languishing on the Balloch slipway beside the “Maid of The Loch”, was ignominiously demolished by a J.C.B. hydraulic builder’s digger ! Spoilt for Choice Returning now to our arrival at Gourock, there was something of a weekly dilemma for both “Caledonia” and the “Duchess of Montrose” were on ‘relief rosters’ and neither of these operated to anything but a very loose set of timings for their almost parallel runs to Rothesay and, to open up even further opportunities of ‘jumping ship’ was the
fact that the “Jeanie Deans” too was doing the regular 10.40 a.m. Gourock - Dunoon - Innellan - Rothesay run and, especially on a busy Greenock or Glasgow Fair Saturday, it was possible that all three ships and not just the “Duchess of Montrose” would call at Wemyss Bay en route to Rothesay. The actual final choice of ship was not of any great consequence as the simple aim was to get down to Rothesay, preferably via Wemyss Bay and then return on either the “Jeanie Deans” or the “Duchess of Montrose” to Gourock for around 1.30 p.m.. The “Duchess of Montrose” would leave Gourock at 10.40 a.m. for Dunoon, Wemyss Bay and Rothesay where she would leave about 12.30 p.m. to sail direct to Gourock for 1.30 p.m. with two booked Wallace Arnold coach parties and the “Jeanie Deans” would also leave Gourock at 10.40 a.m. for Dunoon, Innellan and Rothesay but, especially on Greenock and Glasgow Fair Saturdays could be diverted to Wemyss Bay after her Innellan call. Regardless, she would leave Rothesay on her ‘up run’ to Craigendoran, via Innellan and Dunoon and call at Gourock just minutes after the arrival of the “Duchess of Montrose”. The “Caledonia”, leaving Gourock at 10.35 a.m., essentially preceded the “Duchess of Montrose” to Rothesay and, depending on the volume of traffic, might even sail direct to Wemyss Bay from Gourock, her sailing orders often changed at the last minute. Such then was the popularity of holidays in Rothesay that, particularly on Fair Saturdays, upwards of eight, yes, eight thousand passengers might pass through Wemyss Bay’s station and pier complex in the short period between 11.10 a.m. and 12 noon ! Wemyss Bay Arrivals and Departures
In the days of steam-power, three 12-coach trains left Glasgow’s Central Station at 10.20, 10.30 and 10.40 a.m. but, once the electric ‘Blue’ trains came into service, these were respectively made up of twelve, nine and six coaches. Wemyss Bay’s station car park and nearby Pearson’s Garage’s car park held a further thirty 33-41 seat coaches and around 150 cars. At Wemyss Bay pier, the sequence of steamer arrivals and departures began at 11.10 a.m. with the arrival of a ‘Maid’ Class vessel (630 passengers) from Rothesay and the arrival of the “Talisman” (1,259 passengers) from Largs and Millport, both vessels berthing on the south side of the pier and the ‘Maid’ tucking herself into the outer ‘cut-out’ berth to allow the “Caledonia” (1,766 passengers) to ‘cant’ herself, stern first, into the ‘cut-out’ berth on the north side and too to allow the “Duchess of Montrose” (1,937 passengers) to come across the end of the pier whilst the ‘Maid’ and the “Caledonia” loaded their passengers. The Rothesay car ferry, “Bute” (650 passengers), then arrived at her berth on the north side of the pier at 11.15 a.m. and in her wake would be her sister-ship, the “Cowal” (650 passengers) which would lie off until the “Bute” sailed, usually on such occasions before her 12 noon advertised sailing time. The “Jeanie Deans” (1,480 passengers), if called from Innellan, would follow the “Duchess of Montrose” and berth across the front of the pier after allowing the “Caledonia” to slip out for Rothesay and letting the ‘Maid’ away to run direct to Millport, ahead of the “Talisman”. This too freed up the south side of the pier at 11.50 a.m. to let in the “Cowal” if the “Bute” had not by then finished loading for Rothesay. Pier Signals Despite there being pier signals at Wemyss Bay, five railway9
type signals, one for each berth, steel mast at the end of the pier, even on the busiest of occasions
arranged on a latticedthese were rarely used
Other Clyde piers employed a berth signalling system which was devised around 1887 by the son of an earlier Skelmorlie resident, one Charles Allan, third son of the founder of The Allan Line - the family staying at Ashcraig, just to the south of Skelmorlie Castle. Allan’s signals were housed in a white painted triangular box sited so that the two outward-facing sides could be seen by approaching steamers. Each exposed side contained three circular discs, for ‘inshore’, ‘middle’ and ‘offshore’ steamers approaching from that particular direction. Black-painted sliding boards, with red-lit glass centres, were raised as necessary to expose a white-painted circle with a white-lit glass centre to the selected approaching steamer and thus call her in to the pier in preference against any others approaching from the same or opposite directions Kilcreggan Pier continues to maintain a fully working set of Allan’s pier signals. Rothesay’s Berths and Boat Operators With Wemyss Bay astern, the steamers headed for their respective berths at Rothesay, the Craigendoran steamer for Berth 1, at the western end of the pier, Berth 1a only being used by the ex-Loch Awe “Countess of Breadalbane”; the car ferries using Berth 2, in the middle of the pier and the turbines using Berth 3 at the eastern, Albert Harbour entrance, end of the pier where, on occasion, they could ‘cant’ stern-in and lie inside the inner harbour entrance. In these days, Rothesay was home to a number of small boat operators, Dewar’s, Turner’s and Taylor’s offering rowing dinghies and self-drive motor- boats - some with car-type steering wheels and reversing engines - from the esplanade area, to the west of the pier and McQueen’s, in the inner 10
harbour, beside the Albert Pier, keeping a small fleet of rowing dinghies one of which, with a cut-out on its transom 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 of the prosperity of Rothesay’s boat-hirers was due to the presence of the submarine depot ships, first the “Montclare”, then the “Adamant”. McIver’s 1938-built “Gay Queen” with red hull and creampainted rectangular imitation ‘gun ports’, operating from Rothesay’s Pavilion slipway from 1938 till the end of the 1988 season when she was sold to a Poole operator and John Knox’s near identical 56-foot 1937 Fraserburgh-built “Maid of Bute”, until 1973, operating from Rothesay’s inner harbour, both carried out a variety of local cruises to The Kyles of Bute and elsewhere. These were the days when hand-written ‘chalk boards’ promoted the day’s excursions and I have clear visions of young John Knox, whose father then owned Rothesay’s Grand Marine Hotel, where the young local Lena Zavaroni’s family provided entertainment for residents, carefully chalking up his cruise boards and then ‘scooting off’ home on his brand new Vespa scooter for breakfast before the first day’s cruise at about 1025 a.m.. Of the “Maid of Bute”, it is perhaps of interest to note that she was essentially a single-screw launch, the main shaft being through the stern centre-post, but, she too had a secondary ‘wing’ engine and propellor shaft, like some of the older auxiliary-engined fishing boats, which was bored out through her hull and allowing her to operate albeit as a ‘twinscrew’ ship. 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 McIntyre’s slipway while she was being overhauled. With time to spare before returning to Rothesay, I wandered up through the boatsheds and discovered the 32-foot long lugger “Lady Guildford”, built, sometime between 1817 1819 in Tighnabruiach, for the 2nd Marquis of Bute to bring
his bride Maria, daughter of the Earl of Guildford, home to Mount Stuart House. The lugger, albeit it latterly fitted with an engine and used as a private ferry for the Bute family, continued in used until as late as 1939 and is still languishing in the boatyard sheds to this day. Rothesay Pier Fire On a Saturday afternoon in 1962, though the date is not to my hand, I found the “Duchess of Hamilton” coming in to Wemyss Bay Pier to do the 4.30 p.m. sailing to Innellan and Rothesay, a run usually covered by one of the Maid-class motor-ships. A quick sprint three-minute downhill from our house to the pier and away I went on a virtually passengerfree cruise to Rothesay which we left again at 5.30 p.m. for the run back to Wemyss Bay. As we approached Wemyss Bay we could see one of the piermen jumping up and down and pointing wildly towards Rothesay where a huge plume of black smoke was rising behind Craigmore Point - Rothesay Pier Buildings and the old clock tower were on fire and we’d been there and seen nothing ! Even in 1962, though the Clyde steamers had radar, there were no radios switched on and news travelled most often from pier-to-pier, by old-fashioned telephone. Some years earlier, there was a serious fire at Rothesay’s secondary school, the young culprits were apprehended and taken to court and fined 7/6d (37½p) each, payable in instalments out of their pocket-money ! Rothesay to Gourock and Lunch Now came the time for the stomach to decide whether to take the “Jeannie Deans”, “Caledonia” or “Duchess of Montrose” from Rothesay back to Gourock - sausage rolls and pies in the cafeteria of the “Jeannie Deans” or “Caledonia” or, a civilised lunch for 3/6d (17½p) on board the “Duchess of Montrose” where there would be but the 11
two Wallace Arnold coach parties and a handful of other passengers and knowing steamer enthusiasts. The usual daily provision of lunches at set times - 11 a.m., 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 and lunch was served as soon as the ship left Rothesay. The ‘table d’hôte’ menus of the Clyde Steamers were designed to cater for upwards of 100 passengers per 40minute sitting and generally led to few complaints. A choice of fruit juice or soup, thick or clear, served not infrequently from silver soup tureens. These were the days of proper ‘silver service’ the admonition to novice table-waiting staff being to “lift, not slide” the selected food from silver to plate. One of the most useful books on the subject came from the Gravesend College, “The Ship Steward’s Training Manual”, a booklet which, unlike any guides published for hotel and catering staff generally, even demonstrated picture-by-picture how to ‘silver service’ breakfast - boiled eggs, poached eggs, fried and scrambled eggs, the whole ‘caboodle’ from silver-toplate ! If it takes little time to learn how to do ‘silver service’ - the first lesson being to learn to pick up a potato and then an uncooked egg with a spoon and fork, then it is indeed a feat for anybody to carry ten plates full of soup on a steamer 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 marking the near virginal white tablecloths ! I saw it happen on several occasions and am still mystified how to balance so many plates, empty or full, on ones arms. Next steak pie or mince pie or beef stew or mince - the pies’ pastry being added according to choice and an accompanying choice of potatoes and vegetables always being served from huge silver dishes ! Along with the
standard alternatives of gammon and cold meat salads, there was always fresh salmon salad, the salmon being supplied daily, six to ten salmon for each ship being delivered daily on their various arrivals at Rothesay by Ritchie’s, the Rothesay fishmongers, who also supplied the other staple high tea mountain of haddock. By Innellan we were finishing off dessert - Donald’s ice cream from Gourock with fruit or jelly - and custard; apple tart and custard or, a special favourite, Swiss apple tart apple tart topped with meringue and coloured sugars - and ice cream and/or custard ! While the timings for lunch sittings made it impossible to sit on in the dining saloon for coffee, this normally purchased and served separately in the cafeteria afterwards, Saturday Rothesay - Gourock runs were different and coffee would be served in the dining saloon - and at no extra charge - from big silver coffee pots which often dated from the 1860’s and 1870’s, many being engraved with the crests of the old and many railweay and steamer companies which had long amalgamated or long disappeared from ken. In hindsight, considering the limited equipment and galley spaces, the ability to cater for often enormous numbers of people was a feat little appreciated by the first hungry and then, later, well satisfied passengers. From the earliest days, the bars on the Clyde and other day excursion steamers were located on the lower deck, next to the engine room and hence the expression “I’m away to see the engines ! “ Not Saturday But Sunday Licensing Laws On MacBrayne’s three-funnelled “Saint Columba”, she the only turbine to have inwardly sloping boiler casings on the main deck, the ship’s bar was on the shelter deck, where the other steamers had been fitted with gift and sweet shops. 12
Her bar was fitted with a stable-type door on the port side and was decorated to resemble an old Highland drovers’ inn, targes, claymores and broadswords fixed to the walls. With the exception of Sundays, the steamer bars were open all day long and allowed to serve alcohol as long as there were no ropes attached to piers ! On Sundays, even now under the current 1976 Scottish Licensing Act, the law came into play and alcohol could only be sold, again if no ropes were attached to piers, during ‘hotel licensing hours’ i.e. between 12.30 and 2.30 p.m. and between 6.30 and 11 p.m. (10 p.m. before the 1976 Licensing Act came into effect). Until the ‘new’ 1976 Act, hotels and indeed ships could serve alcohol throughout the whole 24-hour period midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday, including the periods outside the statutorily prescribed ‘hotel licensing hours’ provided that consumers could prove they were “bona fide travellers” and, while different local Scottish licensing courts variously interpreted distances that had to be ‘travelled’, the steamers were left much to their own and made up their own rules such as was the understanding on the Sunday turbine return sailing from Campbeltown to Brodick and Fairlie. On Sundays, the “Duchess of Hamilton” left Campbeltown at 3.15 p.m. and, via Pladda and the south of 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 being allowed to open till 6.30 p.m.. In practice the ship’s bar opened as soon as the last rope was thrown off Brodick Pier and a full hour’s sales made possible before reaching Fairlie. Though MacBrayne’s ships never sailed on Sundays, an opportunity was taken to charter their turbine steamer “King George V” for a ‘Sunday-breaker’ trip, ‘south about’ from Oban to Iona and and, shortly after leaving Oban at 9.30 a.m. on the Sunday morning, the company’s Catering Superintendent Dick Whittington, an Ulsterman by birth,
appeared on the ship’s after deck looking for some help with his dilemma about opening the ship’s bar as the ship would 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 timings being half an hour after the law allowed alcohol to be sold ! Given the precedent set by the “Duchess of Hamilton” on the Sunday sailings from Campbeltown, the bar on the “King George V” was open from 10 a.m. till our arrival at Iona and again opened at 4 p.m., as soon as we sailed on the return run. Iona ‘Sunday Breaker’ That Sunday, only the island-based ferrymen appeared as we arrived and, going ashore on the first ferryboat run, we were nearly at the abbey itself before we saw or met anyone. A holidaying student appeared out of the abbey buildings and, asked if there was any chance of finding a coffee, he put his hand in his pocket and thrust a pile of old, octagonal ‘three-penny’ coins into our hands, “There’s a old ‘Ditchburn’ vending machine over there in the refectory but it only takes these ! The cash drawer in it isn’t locked and we just recycle them ! “ We saw no other ‘locals’ out that afternoon and indeed it was only as the last ferry run left to come out to the “King George V” that a few faces peered out of the house windows to watch us leave. On the run back to Oban, we had ‘high tea’ in the dining saloon and, in sharp contrast to the offerings of the Clyde menus, we had proper home-made chips with our fish - the Clyde ships only and occasionally offering instant potato at that time of the day ! One other feature of MacBrayne’s ‘high teas’ was that though everyone had two forks, one for fish and one for meat, only 13
one knife was provided, it serving to cut through fried eggs, butter and, if one was really reckless, jam ! The ‘Rum’ and ‘The Dugs’ A later charter of the “King George V” was supposed to take us “Round Rum”, note the spelling ! In these days the map-spelling of the island’s name was ‘R-h-u-m’ but Gaelic speakers and locals favoured the spelling on our steamer tickets - ‘Rum’. The day was grey and a good swell was running outside the shelter of the Sound of Mull so it was 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 mirrorcalm, Loch Sunart. Abreast of Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, John M’Callum, the mate, switched on the ship’s tannoy system and announced “The company would not like to disappoint ticket-holders and, noting the spelling of the island on your tickets, I will drop a bottle of the said name from the starboard, righthand-facing-the-bow, side of the bridge as we turn to back to Loch Sunart ! “ Plop ! The (certainly empty) bottle overboard ! John M’Callum, from Tiree, had a ‘dry’ sense of humour ! One day a woman asked him if she could take her dog with her. “What colour is it ? “ he asked in all seriousness. “It’s brown,” she answered. “That’ll be just fine for all the black ones were here yesterday ! “ Gourock and ‘The Crossing Rule’ Having much digressed, it is now back to Gourock and our Saturday afternoon cruise on the “Duchess of Montrose” leavng at 2 p.m. in the company of the “Maid of Ashton”, on the Kilcreggan - Holy Loch service, a car ferry also heading with us for Dunoon, Ritchie Brothers’ “Lady Jane Ritchie” heading out for Kilcreggan and Roy Ritchie’s “Granny Kempock” on the Helensbugh run, everybody on
immediately crossing courses. The ‘crossing rule’, Rule 15 of The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, holds that ‘when two powerdriven vessels are crossing and in risk of a collision, the one with the other on her starboard (right-hand) side must keep clear and, if possible, avoid passing ahead of the other The ‘give-way’ vessel should normally alter course to starboard (to the right); exceptionally, an alteration of course to port (to the left) may be justified, in which case a large alteration of course may be needed to avoid (the ‘giveway’ ship) crossing ahead of the other,’ in the immortal word’s of the long-running BBC Radio’s ‘Navy Lark’ - “Right hand down-a-bit ! “ Anyone in any doubt about ‘the crossing rule’ should observe the constant conflict of CalMac and Western Ferries’ on the Gourock - Dunoon and McInroy’s Point to Hunter’s Quay car-ferry services. Clyde Pilots Ever-watchful of the departing steamers were the crews of the two Clyde Pilot Boats, the yellow-funnelled motor yachtlike “Cumbrae”, which sailed down to her namesakes and the Garroch Head to meet the large tankers and summer crossing Atlantic liners of Cunard and Canadian Pacific and, alongside her, the smaller “Gantock”, which usually operated out no further than the Cloch Lighthouse. Before 1938, when the diesel-engined “Cumbrae” was built, the pilots were served by the steam-engined “Nathaniel G. Dunlop” she being named after a very enterprising young man who had found employment as a very junior clerk in a Glasgow shipping office. After just a few months and acutely conscious of the fact that his prospects of promotion were slim by any standards, he summoned up courage to speak to the company chairman one morning as he arrived at the office. “What would be my prospects with the company be if I were to become engaged ? “ and he went on to name the daughter of another Glasgow shipping 14
company’s chairman. “That being the case,” came the reply, “a company directorship would of course be immediate ! “ Thus secured, the enterprising young man immediately asked the said young lady’s father for his permission to see his daughter. “I am about to become a director,“ began the young man . . . ! Steamer Bands Now reaching Dunoon ahead of the car-ferry, we, like every other cruise ship, would be welcomed with a scratchy gramophone rendition of Kenneth McKellar’s “Song of The Clyde” - Rothesay Pier favoured a constant bombardment of “Sweet Rothesay Bay”, much less scratchy recordings as it was featured by many different Scottish Country Dance Bands and therefore Rothesay had many ‘back-up’ records. Digressing a bit more, it is appropriate to mention the steamers’ own bands which had entertained passengers since pre-World War I times, these ‘German Bands’ then popularly believed to be a cover for Kaiser Bill’s spies and espionage agents. In the 1950’s, the “Duchess of Hamilton” had a five-piece band - two accordions (always beautifully played in duet), saxophone, trumpet and drums, the other steamers had only three-piece bands, that on the “Duchess of Hamilton” featuring the Coia brothers from Glasgow on violin and double-bass. The then Glasgow-based “Queen Mary II” had a piano and, for a time, the old “Jupiter” had a concertina-player, he later transferring with the band to the “Caledonia” and his appearance always reminding me of a cross between comedian Arthur Askey and band leader Billy Cotton ! At Inveraray in the 1950’s, just round the corner from The Argyll Hotel, now The Great Inn, we used to visit ‘The Cumbrae Model Railway’. Going back aboard the “Duchess of Montrose”, one of the steamer band’s accordionists
opened his instrument case and produced a series of thin card-mounted ‘flick books’ to amuse the young children. One of the books, drawn back in the 1930’s, showed a stream of spoked-wheel Model T Ford cars running across one of the first ever pedestrian crossings, it lit by flashing ‘belisha beacons’. Trying to cross the road was the figure of a little ‘stick’ man who, despite being knocked down, was able to revive himself and stagger across the ‘new-fangled’ crossing only to be knocked down again as he re-tried to cross the road from the safety of the other side. A very clever series of drawings which worked regardless of which way the book’s pictures were flicked. Skelmorlie Measured Mile Again to our Saturday cruise, the “Duchess of Montrose” now heading from Dunoon direct to Largs and, passing Wemyss Bay Pier, numerous individuals would be seen checking their watches as we ran down the Skelmorlie Measured Mile at speed, 3 minutes and 45 seconds to do the run at just over 16-knots and into Largs as the big hands of St Columba’s Church clock, beside Nardini’s Café neared 3 p.m.. Though The Admiralty only started to document steam-ship trials around 1840, Clyde shipbuilders had for long been ‘running the lights’, steaming at full speed the 13.666 nautical mile course between The Cloch and Cumbrae Head lighthouses, the run takes 60 minutes 17 seconds at 13.6 knots and 41 minutes at 20 knots. The problem was one of distance. By the time the ship had turned round to do a second, return, run, the tidal conditions, the wind and the weather could all have changed making any conclusions dubious. The answer lay in finding a shorter testing distance, that between the old steamer pier at Skelmorlie, just below the 15
site for Skelmorlie Hydropathic Hotel and southwards to Skelmorlie Castle, this later to be regarded as the most important ‘measured mile’ in Britain - a nautical mile, originally defined as being 6,080 imperial feet, has been redefined and accepted internationally as 1,852 metres, about 10 feet less. Having sought out the agreement of The Earl of Eglinton, who owned the land, John, son of Robert Napier, erected the necessary unlit beacons at Skelmorlie and, on July 4, 1866, George Henry Richards, at The Hydrographic Office of The Admiralty in London, sent out “Notice to Mariners No 36, Scotland West Coast, Measured Mile in The Firth of Clyde” to the effect that “Notice is hereby given that beacons to indicate the length of a nautical mile (6,080 feet) have been erected on the eastern shore of The Firth of Clyde. Each beacon consists of a single pole, 45-feet high, with arms 10-feet long forming a broad ( V and ‘inverted’ V ) angle 15-feet from the base, the whole being painted white. The two northern beacons are erected near Skelmorlie Pier, the outer one being close to the high water shore on the south side and, from it, the inner one (in the recess of the cliff) is 83 yards distant bearing S.E. by E¾E. The two southern beacons stand on level ground near Skelmorlie Castle, the inner one being 100 yards from the outer one in a S.E. by E¾ direction.The courses parallel with the measured mile, at right angles to the line of transit of the beacons, are NNE¼E and SSW¼W. The shore may be approached to the distance of a third of a mile.” Once the ‘V’ and the ‘inverted’ ‘V’ cross-arms were aligned, they became an “X” and stop-watches started, or, conversely stopped, to determine the exact time taken to run the distance between the beacons and the results read off from a ‘standard’ agreed ‘time and distance’ table published in almanacs.
Ideally, to bring the ships to a ‘steady state of motion’, ensuring that there were no avoidable changes in steering or acceleration forces on the propellor(s), these distorting accurate speed calculations, ships would always run a straight and steady course for up to four miles before going through the beacon transits. At the end of each run, the ship was turned round and run back over the course at the same engine power and revolutions so as to ‘neutralise’ any effects of tide and wind and an average speed result then calculated for the two runs. It would be customary to make at least two return trips over the course to get an agreed ‘average’ and different methods of calculating ‘averages’ could find results varying by about ½ of 1%. The importance of Skelmorlie’s sheltered deep-water measured mile became increasingly clear in the early 1900’s after The Admiralty began to scrutinise the performance of the 32-knot destroyer H.M.S. “Cossack” which had been on trial first off The Maplin Sands, in The Thames and then been sent to the Skelmorlie measured mile. At 32-knots in the shallow, but 45-foot deep, waters of The Thames, she had only needed 86,000 shaft horse power to reach the required contract speed but, for the 240-foot deep waters, off Skelmorlie, it took 105,000 shaft horse power to push her up to the same speed. In order to give the new 1934-built Cunarder “Queen Mary” proper turning room to let her regain ‘a steady state of motion’ at each end of her course, a new ‘double mile’ was constructed at the north-eastern corner on the island of Arran. There was a third ‘half mile’ measured out on The Gareloch and The British Shipbuilding Research Association (BSRA), anxious to carry out resistance tests on a full-scale ship hull without the water being disturbed by propellors, paddles or tugs, bought the old 1888-built Craigendoran paddle steamer “Lucy Ashton” in 1949. Stripped down to her main deck level, her boiler, engine, paddle-wheels and 16
saloon superstructure all removed, four Rolls Royce ‘Derwent’ jet engines were fitted athwartships behind her bridge deck and in 1950, with ear-piercing ‘banshee’ screeches she returned to her old home haunts up and down The Gareloch ‘mile’ providing the BSRA with valuable new data on the resistance of a ship’s underwater skin to motion through the water. 1888 may have been an unfortunate year for the poor “Princess of Wales” sunk off Skelmorlie - ‘1888’ is in fact something of an unfortunate number for it needs 13 Roman ‘letter numerals’ MDCCCLXXXVIII - but nobody then could have ever anticipated that the 1888-built “Lucy Ashton” would, like Sir Walter Scott’s own novels, would achieve worldwide fame, as a ‘jet-ship’. Her steam whistle, bought by a Glasgow company, still calls people to work at a factory in Santiago in Chile. Largs’ Boats Largs, like Rothesay, was home to shoals of ‘self-drive’ motor boats and the approach to the pier, particularly on a Saturday afternoon, was more often than not obstructed by at least one small boat whose helmsman would be completely oblivious to the steamer despite her constant siren warnings ! The Largs boat hirers, then the Harts, Halliday’s and Dick’s, also operated half a dozen 35-foot long open passenger launches “Bluebell” and “White Heather” and those named in pairs with the prefixes “Golden . . . “ or “Silver . . . “. There was also Anderson's “Amethyst”, with a short mast and a little blue painted funnel on top of her engine casing and, for a while, a 12-seat Chris Craft-type speedboat. Largs Pier too was home to a little 30+ foot, schoonerrigged, motor yacht with a nicely proportioned yellow funnel, just like an old 1920’s steam yacht and, on the southern face of the pier, where steps were eventually built, would be the
“Ashton” or the “Leven”, often on Saturdays assisted by the “Countess of Breadalbane” on the Largs - Millport service. Keppel for Millport Leaving Largs at 3 p.m., the “Duchess of Montrose” headed for Keppel Pier (for Millport) where she would drop off some twenty to thirty passengers and then, at 3.20 p.m. left for the two-hour run past the Wee Cumbrae, where the island’s owner kept the former Portpatrick R.N.L.I. lifeboat “Jennie Spears”, she having been involved in the rescue of survivors from the January 31, 1953 “Princess Victoria” disaster, and on down mid-channel to Ailsa Craig. With a two hour run of peace and quiet to Ailsa Craig, passengers settled down for a sleep or gathered in groups to ponder the course of life’s events. Tickets Please ! As a consequence of the railway companies interests in the Clyde steamers and their development of linking routes and services, it became ‘sensible’ to extend railway ticket systems to include steamer destinations. Early railway tickets were laboriously hand stamped and then, in 1837, one Thomas Edmondson (1792-1851), a clerk on The Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, invented a machine for printing consecutively-numbered and standardsized card tickets which could be automatically date-stamped in a machine-press. He patented his machines and then persuaded the railway companies, first The Manchester & Leeds, to lease his ticket dating machines at 10/- (50p) per route mile per year - and there were literally tens of thousands of ‘route-miles’ ! Leaving Keppel Pier, the ship’s tannoy system would burst into life with the sound of the purser’s voice “Would passengers who have not yet purchased tickets for the 17
steamer journey please come to the purser’s office on the shelter deck. Tickets, priced 3 shillings (15 pence) are 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, costing 1/6d (7½ pence) for the basket chairs in the forward shelter deck lounge should contact the steward. Tickets for deck chairs, costing 9d (about 4 pence), are also available now from the purser’s office.” The deck chairs were always a source of curiosity for their backs were stencilled with the initials of the steamers to which they had originally been allocated - KE “King Edward”, A “Duchess of Argyll”, DM “Duchess of Montrose” and so on. Similarly, all the steamer journey and meal tickets carried like ‘letter codes’ to trace their origins and, thanks to the railway companies old established systems, there were quite literally hundreds of different tickets all stacked up in closeable racks round the purser’s office. The majority of tickets, most printed by The Glasgow Numerical Printing Company, were numbered simply from ‘0000’ to ‘9999’ and all the tickets collected at the steamer gangways (and the railway stations) had to be ‘cancelled’ with a hand-operated punch which cut a ‘C’ into the tickets and the tickets then arranged in numerical order with little pieces of paper added in where there were gaps in the sequences. The bundles of ‘cancelled’ tickets were then neatly tied up, wrapped into a bigger parcel and sent back to the steamer company offices in Gourock each day and, along with the revenue records from each ship’s purser, the Gourock office staff then were supposed to ‘apportion’ the various amounts due to the railways and the steamers etc.. The whole practice was a shambles as was the ‘dead reckoning’ of the numbers of passengers on board the ships at any one time ! If the passenger head-count seemed simple - start with ‘nil’ and end up with ‘nil’ - then it must be said that the
gangwaymen and many of the assistant pursers ideas were often at odds, some counting children as individuals and others reckoning two children to equal just one adult, thank goodness that at least the big turbines and paddlers carried well over the required number of adult lifejackets for their certificated complements ! More Tickets ? Thanks to these same old-experienced West Highland crofterfishermen, many young and naive assistant pursers soon learned to cut their workload by accidentally ‘losing’ whole pocketfuls of tickets over the side “in the wind” ! In truth, many of the ‘railway-type’ steamer tickets were of three and four portions and only the outer ends numbered and it was a nonsense to put blank slips in the bundles where there gaps between ticket numbers. Too it was a nonsense and a complete waste of time to tie up dozens of neat little ticket bundles and send them in to Gourock only to have the office staff there snip the bundles roughly open with scissors and the bundles scatter across the office floor ! Railway and Farmers’ Rules With the coming of the railways, came, often complex, fares and freight tables and rules ! Even in the 1950’s and 1960’s, though long disregarded by even the most officious of staff, ‘archaic’ rules continued to remain ‘on statute’ for railway and steamer alike. Even if it is easy to count cattle and sheep ‘by the head’, farmers and butchers had to value animals more precisely. Some railway stations introduced weigh- bridges, but why not stick to an old fashioned measuring tape like the butchers. Measure round the beast, the cow, close behind 18
its shoulder and square the result; measure its back from the fore-part of its shoulder-blade to the bone at its tail and multiply this length by 5. These results, measured in feet, are multiplied together and 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 total weight of the live animal. For very fat cattle, add 5% and, conversely, subtract 5% of the weight if very lean. About 5-6% of the beast’s total live weight is in the hide and some 8-9% in the tallow. Farmers also used tapes to measure the weight of haystacks. Multiply the length of the stack by its width; measure the height of the stack to the eaves and then measure one-third of the height between the eaves and the top of the stack. Multiply these results together and divide the answer by 27. 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. The result gives the corresponding weight per cubic yard, in stones. Life-jackets and Lifeboats In post-World War II years, The Board of Trade not only reduced the certificated passenger numbers for many of the steamers but too changed their requirements for life-jackets and couldn’t decide whether to have them of cork or kapok ! The changes from one-to-the-other product were expensive and, having been caught out before, ‘the company’, in its wisdom and for many years, kept a full supply of both cork and kapok life-jackets for the whole fleet ! As a consequence of the 1912 “Titanic” disaster, new Board of Trade regulations brought about a boom in lifeboat building and even the local joiner in Upper Skelmorlie was contracted to build boats for many of the Clyde shipyards, the boats then drawn down the steep hill to Wemyss Bay’s
Goods Yard and taken by train to Greenock and Glasgow. Thank goodness too that the ships’ crews never had to lower their lifeboats in an emergency for not only were many of the lifeboats painted hard on to their deck resting-blocks but too was the case that many of the summer deck crews were indeed getting well on in years, many being crofterfishermen from the islands and, despite their general ableness, many would have ended up killing themselves even trying to free the lifeboats from their resting-blocks ! A Guided Tour of The “Duchess of Montrose” At this point, it might be appropriate to take a tour round the “Duchess of Montrose” as her layout is typical of nearly all the day excursion steamers which lasted sailed in postwar years and it is easy enough to look at their photographs as we go along here, walking aft along the upper ‘Boat Deck’ and down the after stairway on to the ‘Shelter Deck’. Now walking forward along the ‘Shelter Deck’, we come first to the shops, that to starboard selling tobacco, postcards and souvenirs; the other, to port, once for selling fruit, now selling sweets and souvenir boxes of chocolate and ‘Edinburgh Rock’. Facing us, at the top of the after stairway to the ‘Main Deck’, is the single-windowed Purser’s Office and, beside its single access door to starboard, a Mail Box, any postcards and letters being posted there being ‘franked’ with the office stamp identifying the date and the ship herself and the mail being posted ashore at the end of the day’s run. Going on forward along the ‘Shelter Deck’ and passing the break between the two funnel casings where the sliding opening doors on either side of the ship, each able to accommodate two gangways where passengers could embark, we enter the forward lounge furnished all round with forward facing basket-loom chairs. The forward funnel casing on this deck also provided accommodation for the ‘deck chair’ store, in the break between fore and aft funnel 19
casings and a small pantry-cupboard for the lounge steward in its forward facing. Too in the lounge were the forward stairways, one running upwards to the ‘Boat Deck’ and two ‘cross-ship’ stairways going down to a ‘half-landing’ and a single stairway from there to the ‘Main Deck’ and, leading to the ‘Fore Deck’, a small inside enclosed ‘air-lock’ porch gave access to an outer sliding door and the forward end of the ship. Access to the fore-deck on the “Queen Mary II” was by means of a fixed outer stairway leading down from the ‘Boat Deck’. Descending the stairway from the forward lounge we face forward on the ‘Main Deck’ and, on either side of an enclosed ‘private’ stairway to the Officer’s Cabins, are the doors to the ship’s Cafeteria, it being fitted with bench-type seating and a serving counter at its forward end. Prior to 1930, when the “Duchess of Montrose” was built, this forward space in the turbines and indeed in some of the older paddle steamers had been left open and unfurnished to accommodate cargo and, in the days before ‘cafeterias’ appeared, tea rooms, these later used as extra dining saloons, were located, like the ships’ Bars, on the ‘Lower Deck’, below the main dining saloons. Now walking aft on the ‘Main Deck’, there being passageways on both sides of the boiler casings - these being angled inwards on the “Saint Columba” only, we pass the stable-type outward-opening ‘Ferry Doors’, the top half generally opened but protected by a overhead-hinged grating and then we come to the Engine Room and the Engine Control Platform. Whilst on paddle steamers the engine and engine control platform would be fully open to view, the turbine steamers only allowed passengers a restricted view of the controls, steam gauges and machinery space below on the lower deck and in the case of the old “King Edward”, The World’s first commercial passenger steamer, everything was out of sight,
amongst a maze of steam-pipes, on the lower deck. Passing the engine room and continuing aft along the ‘Main Deck’, the toilets, ladies on the port side and gentlemen’s on the starboard side. On the “Queen Mary II”, the latter was a ‘through-space’ blocking the starboard passageway and ladies could not gain access to the forward or after ends of the ship’s main-deck accommodation except by way of the stairways leading down from the ‘Shelter Deck’ as there was no through port passageway either, the space being taken over by the boilers, engine room and ship’s Galley as the the dining saloon of the “Queen Mary II” was situated forward instead of aft. The paddle steamers’ toilets were situated in the paddlewheel ‘sponsons’ and, in the case of the “Caledonia”, her Galley, like that in the “Maid of The Loch” on Loch Lomond, was placed in the casing forward of the boiler. Of the “Maid of The Loch”, the stairways from upper to lower decks were built in to her paddle-sponsons instead of leading down from the deck shelters. Continuing aft again along the ‘Main Deck’, the after stairway going up to the ‘Shelter Deck’ and the Purser’s Office and, underneath this stairway, that to the Bar on the ‘Lower Deck’, just behind the engine and machinery space. Now at the foot of the stairway on the ‘Main Deck’, the entrance to the Dining Saloon and, a few steps inside, the Lower Dining Saloon, which in some steamers was, at some time, the ‘tea room’. Going further aft, the Galley. There was nothing ‘sophisticated’ about the Bridge or its equipment. On the bridge wings, either side, were the Engine and Docking Telegraphs. Inside the Wheelhouse, a spoked steering-wheel and a compass - today’s paddle steamer “Waverley” has an engine-room telegraph too in the wheelhouse. 20
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 ‘radio watches’ were ‘intermittent’ rather than ‘continuous’ as they required a dedicated watch-keeper to operate them. Should occasion arise and provided they were in sight of each other, the steamers could communicate with each other using Morse Code to send signals from an all-round white light, this mounted on a short pole on a corner of the wheelhouse. Again to our Saturday afternoon Ailsa Craig cruise on the “Duchess of Montrose” and I regularly noticed that 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 cross the track of the Ardrossan - Brodick car-ferry route. Though sometimes difficult to tell apart, the 1930 Dennybuilt “Duchess of Montrose” only three small rectangular windows forward of the opening ‘stable-type’ landing ferry door on the main deck, the 1932 Harland & Wolff-built “Duchess of Hamilton” had four and, being fitted with a bow rudder for ease of handling in the confined spaces of Ayr harbour, the latter was fitted with a cross-tree on her main, after-mast to carry the required signals when going astern and using her bow rudder. The “Duchess of Montrose” and The “Hamilton” At War The “Duchess of Montrose”, certificated to carry 400 military personnel and 250 civilian passengers, was sent to cover the Stranraer to Larne run at the end of September 1939 but, within the month, the Sea Transport Officer had her sent back to Gourock being persuaded that her ‘sister’, the “Duchess of Hamilton”, fitted with a bow-rudder might be better suited to the harbours, the “Duchess of Hamilton”, then arriving at the end of October, would, in 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. The “Duchess of Hamilton” was overhauled at her builder’s yard, Harland & Wolff of Belfast in February 1940. Just as well for in April 1940, the 53rd Welsh Division was moved from South Wales via Stranraer to Northern Ireland, a move involving some 11,000 troops and their baggage and a precaution against a possible German invasion of neutral Eire. From the middle of the summer of 1940, continual troop movements after the evacuation of Dunkirk and many personnel going home on leave, led to both the “Duchess of Hamilton” and the “Duchess of Montrose” working the Stranraer crossing during June and July 1940. They were both relieved by the Denny-built Thames excursion motorship “Royal Daffodil”, the “Duchess of Montrose” returning to the Wemyss Bay - Rothesay run at the end of July and the “Duchess of Hamilton” returning to Gourock in October 1940 being recalled to Stranraer as needed. In early December 1945, the “Duchess of Hamilton” again returned to Loch Ryan and, on the evening of Boxing Day, Wednesday, December 26, 1945, while crossing from Larne with some 300 military personnel on board, she ran at full speed into an almost perpendicular cliff just south of Corsewall Point, at the entrance to Loch Ryan. It was first thought that they had hit a mine and the ship’s distress signals brought out the Portpatrick lifeboat. In the event, the “Duchess of Hamilton” had only a badly buckled bow and was able to free herself under her own power and proceed to Stranraer where she lay until the Saturday when, in the afternoon, she made her own way upriver for repairs, a new bow at Henderson’s yard in Glasgow. She then returned to the Stranraer station and remained there until Thursday, March 28, 1946 when she returned to Gourock to give assist on the day’s services and then went for re-conditioning at D. & W. Henderson’s yard and return to peace-time sailings. The “Duchess of Hamilton” made a 21
return visit to Stranraer on Saturday, September 6, 1969, a charter from Ayr which too gave Stranraer passengers, as in pre-war days, the chance of an afternoon cruise round Ailsa Craig. Apart from occasional pre-war 1930’s visits to Campbeltown, it was not until 1946 that the sister turbines would begin to appear there regularly, the “Duchess of Hamilton” carrying out the run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and alternate Sundays and Mondays, thus giving each turbine a day off for maintenance once a fortnight and the “Duchess of Montrose” covering the other sailings each week until the end of August each year when she went into harbour for her winter lay-up. On Wednesdays, the “Duchess of Hamilton” cruised via The Kyles of Bute to Brodick and Pladda, going direct to Largs from Brodick on the return run and, on Fridays, to Ayr with a short cruise round Holy Isle. The “Duchess of Montrose” carried out the Inveraray service on Tuesdays and Thursdays - on one occasion, as mentioned earlier, being relieved by the diesel-electric paddler “Talisman” which was actually observed arriving at Wemyss Bay exactly on the turbine steamer’s advertised return time ! On Saturdays, the “Duchess of Montrose” duplicated the morning Gourock - Dunoon - Wemyss Bay - Rothesay peak ferry sailings and, returning to Gourock, then, via Dunoon, Largs and Millport (Keppel Pier), cruised round Ailsa Craig and on Sunday afternoons, the turbines alternating rosters, one or other would cruise to Lochranza Bay and Catacol or go round Holy Isle. The “Duchess of Montrose” was withdrawn at the end of the 1964 season and left Greenock under tow on Thursday, August 19, 1965, to be broken up in Belgium. Now alone, her roster having her cover Inveraray on Tuesdays and Ayr on Fridays, the “Duchess of Hamilton” 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 floating restaurant in Glasgow. The plans fell through and she was towed to Troon in April 1974 for breaking-up. Of seemingly heavier construction, the “Duchess of Montrose” was undoubtedly the better sea-boat of the pair and, in the last week of her Clyde service proved, at least on that occasion to be faster than her near sister. By correspondence, it would have been Friday, August 28, 1964, the “Duchess of Hamilton” as usual going to Ayr and scheduled out of Rothesay at 10.15 a.m. to arrive in Largs at 10.45 a.m., five minutes ahead of the “Duchess of Montrose” on the Campbeltown run but, the “Duchess of Montrose” won the race to Largs that day for unknown to Herbert Waugh, the Chief Engineer on the “Duchess of Hamilton”, his opposite number on the “Duchess of Montrose”, Ned Higgins, had replaced his 1-inch ‘economy’ burners with 1½-inch oil burners that day and, as the two ships swept out of Rothesay Bay towards Largs, the “Duchess of Montrose” quickly out-paced her rival and arrived in Largs at 10.45 a.m. causing the passenger queues on the pier to be re-assembled to board their respective cruise ships !
Further on towards Ailsa Craig and some five miles south of the island of Pladda, our course would take us near to the wreck of “U-33”, a mine-laying German submarine sunk by H.M.S. “Gleaner” on February 12, 1940, exactly five years to the day before I was born and sunk by a ship whose predecessor was commanded by my maternal grand-father ! Round Ailsa Craig By 4.45 p.m. we would be nearing the 1,114-foot high Ailsa Craig, a good reason never to book the 4.50 p.m. sitting for High Tea ! We always rounded Ailsa Craig, ‘the fairy rock’, so that it was to port, on our left-hand side, its north-west face and cave below called Ashydoo. The ‘Craig’ itself, most famously known as Paddy’s Milestone, has also been called variously Elizabeth’s or Alastair’s Rock. With the coming of the excursion steamers, it became a popular destination for day trippers, the “Duchess of Argyll” giving passengers the chance to go ashore for an hour or so in the years before World War I and the Girvan family of Girvan’s steamers, beginning in 1906 with the steamer “Ailsa” and then the “Ailsa II“, later renamed “Lady Ailsa”, running, with the exception of the war years until 1955. Steamer Commentaries
The “Dasher” and “U-33” This was in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and there was still much secrecy about her story but it was then that I heard about the sinking there of the aircraft carrier H.M.S. “Dasher” on March 27, 1943. Her loss was attributed to a petrol leak and, the fumes being ignited by a spark, she blew up and sank just six minutes later only 149 of her crew of 528 surviving. 22
Bearing down on to Ailsa Craig, the ship’s tannoy system would again burst into life with the voice of Tom Dale, chief purser on the “Duchess of Montrose”, as he began to give passengers a detailed commentary as we rounded the island. Tom, who can be seen appearing on the upper deck of the “Duchess of Montrose” in the video “The Coasts of Clyde”, it made originally for British Transport Commission Films, was the first and, for a long time, the only commentator on the steamers and in the late 1960’s, when
the steamer company appointed ‘hostesses’ to the two remaining Clyde turbines and the “Maid of The Loch”, on Loch Lomond, I wrote up pocket- sized commentary books for the girls on the turbines as they had little knowledge of the area and the company itself hadn’t bothered to supply them with any backup material. Naively, expecting the girls would be able to read the notes in reverse order, I thought it only necessary to write these commentaries for the ‘outward’ run of each day trip but, I ended up spending another full day on each ship with another couple of little spiral-bound books rewriting my notes so that, once the ship had reached her destination, the pocket-book was turned over and read-back-the-other-wayround ! The Rock and The Birds Sailing close in under the west face of Ailsa Craig’s now towering volcanic cliffs, the practice now banned, the ship’s echoing steam whistle would lift thousands of birds into flight from the rock faces, much to the delight of passengers Wearied and increasingly indifferent to these weekly intrusions, ever fewer birds bothered to put on a show for the tourists towards the end of each season ! Though not really for the faint-hearted, it is relatively easy to walk the two or so miles round the southern shore of the island and, at low tide, negotiate the south-west corner at Stranny Point to visit the quite dramatic Water Cave. Seemingly clinging to the rock, high up on the eastern side 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 for the monks from Crossraguel Abbey at Maybole, that village too hosting the manufacturers of the curling stones whose stone, sourced from the island’s quarries, make Ailsa Craig’s name known world-wide. 23
Now passing the eastern face of the rock, the ship blows again as we come abreast of the North Foreland and the island’s lighthouse, the lighthouse keepers hoisting and now ‘dipping’ their flag to salute our weekly passage. Until the 1869 and the building of the lighthouse, Ailsa Craig was home to some 250,000 puffins “their numbers so great as to cause a bewildering darkness” but then, with the builders, came rats, brown, or Norwegian rats and, by 1984, the puffins were gone, eaten by the rats. In 1991, Glasgow University and Scottish Natural Heritage, using a Sea King helicopter, had 6½ tonnes of anti-coagulant ‘warafin’ rat poison delivered to the islands and the rats eventually killed off. Much to their delight a puffin returned to the island but their delight was only short-lived for the island’s resident peregrine falcon soon devoured the puffin ! Happily, along came more puffins and they are now well reestablished despite their enemy. High Tea The ship now clear of the island, we make our way down for the 5.30 p.m. sitting of High Tea, the choices being fresh haddock and creamed (instant) potatoes or sausage, bacon and egg or fresh salmon salad or gammon and cold meats with salad. The tables too would be laden with teabreads of all types - white and brown bread, soda scones, fruit scones and crumpets and always a choice of two, sometimes even three, different flavoured jams and a constant flow of fresh, scalding hot, tea - all for 3/- (15 pence). Breakfast, Luncheon, Dinner & Tea It is interesting now to compare with the 1950’s and 1960’s offerings with the typical selection of fare offered in the dining saloon of the 1890’s Breakfast selected) 2/- (reduced to 1/6d if only a single main dish : Ham and Egg, Salmon Steak, Chops, White
Fish, Herring, Sausages, Cold Meats, Rolls, Toast, Preserves, Tea and Coffee. Luncheon - served from 10.30 a.m. till 2 p.m. - 2/- : Soup or Salmon, Roast Lamb, Roast Beef, Corned Beef, Boiled Ox-Tongue, Boiled Ham, Potatoes and Vegetables, Assorted Sweets, Salads and Cheeses. Dinner Table d’Hôte - served from 2.30 p.m. till 4 p.m. 2/6d : Soup, Poached Salmon, Roast Lamb with Mint Sauce, Roast Beef, Corned Beef and Vegetables, Pickled OxTongue, Boiled Ham, Potatoes and Vegetables, Assorted Sweets, Salads and Cheeses. Tea - served from 4.15 p.m. onwards - 2/- (reduced to 1/6d if only a single main dish selected) : White Fish, Cold Salmon, Cold Meats, Boiled Eggs, Toast, Preserves, Tea. Plain Tea - served from 4.15 p.m. onwards - 9d : Toast, Biscuits, Preserves, Tea. For those simply ‘peckish’ : a plate of soup with bread 6d; a plate of meat and potatoes, or salmon 1/-; tea, or coffee, with bread and butter, or a pastry 6d; pudding, or tart, or a compôte of fruit 6d; jellies, or creams 6d; biscuits and cheese 6d; sandwiches 4d; pastries, or biscuits 1d each. “Good Spirits” The typical 1890’s steamer bar prices were slightly more expensive than ‘shore prices’, not surprising in view of the fact that they had a ‘captive’ clientele ! Spirits - per glass : Brandy 8d; Whisky, Rum, Gin, Port, Sherry, Cordial (a range of these were available) and Lime Juice were all 4d; Special Whisky : 3d per ‘nip’ and Bottled Beers were all priced at 4d each as were aerated ‘waters’. Liqueurs were 6d per ‘nip’, the most popular of the period being Marachino, Benedictine and Green Chartreuse. A small selection of wines, reflecting the better sellers of the time, 24
was also carried on board and sold by the bottle - and by the pint ! . Champagnes all at 10/6d per bottle, 5/6d per pint : Dry Monopole Heidsieck, G. H. Mumm’s, Perinet and Fils and Pommery. Port and Sherry being 5/- per bottle and 2/6d per pint. Hocks : Sparkling Moselle at 6/- per bottle, 3/6d per pint; Hockheimer at 5/- per bottle and 2/6d per pint. Clarets : Medoc at 2/6d per bottle, 1/6d per pint; St. Julien at 3/per bottle and 1/9d per pint. For those who enjoy the challenge of ‘mental arithmetic’, these simple ‘rule of thumb’ conversions persuade that there has been little change to restaurant and bar prices in the course of a century though, if anything, one might say that one got better value for money in ‘the good old days’ ! Given £1.00 in the 1890’s/early 1900’s, one would now need £60.00 to have the same purchasing power. In ‘the good old days’, there were 240d, old pence, to the £. A shilling 1/- (12 old pence) was equal to our 5 p coin and for those who would convert to ‘euros’, the £ is currently equal to somewhere between about 1.45 and 1.63 euros ! Today, in 2003, the 2/- cost of lunch would equate to about £6.00, a ‘nip’ of whisky or a ½ pint bottle of beer £1 - the prices for eating and drinking out do not appear to have much changed but then too the 5/- cost of a third class rail and cabin class steamer return ticket for a day cruise from Glasgow would now equate to about £15 and in fact, in 2002, a day trip from Glasgow on the “Waverley” costs about £25, up 60% ! High fares ‘drive away’ passengers ! Sail Ho ! On one Saturday evening, we had as usual finished High Tea shortly after 6 p.m. and, with Arran abeam of the ship to 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 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 of us passing fairly close to the yacht, then slightly nearer to Arran than ourselves, as we headed up towards the Cumbraes. When we overtook the yacht, she just a hundred or so yards upwind of us, she, just as I had predicted to the sceptical and now amused mate, proved to be the “Dyarchy”, a 50foot long, gaff-rigged, Laurent Giles designed, replica Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter which had been built in 1947 for one the Pilkington Glass family directors, a truly photogenic little ship. Immediately after Christmas and New Year Days, one of the car ferries used to do a special direct run from Largs to Brodick and on many of these occasions, generally about The Tan, between the two Cumbraes, we would meet another replica yacht, a Loch Fyne fishing skiff, inwardbound and under sail and, like many of the winter steamers and ferries in these days, carrying a little Christmas tree at the top of her mast. The Clyde ‘Banana Boats’ Just south of the Wee Cumbrae and the Garroch Head lay the dumping ground for ‘the banana boats’ which, in the course of the decades, from 1904, when the service was initiated with the single-screw “Dalmuir”, till 1998, when the 1970’s built “Garroch Head” and “Dalmarnock” were withdrawn after European Union regulations banned the practice, discharged some 90 million tons of treated, nitrate-rich, sewage sludge into the five hundred foot deep waters just off Bute - During the war years, with the antisubmarine 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 though they had still been sailing beyond ‘the boom’ to the 25
Garroch Head. In 1911, a year after the second ship, the twin-screw “Sheildhall”, was built, Glasgow hosted The Scottish National Exhibition and Glasgow Corporation’s Town Clerk discovered that, as long as the ships had sufficient lifejackets and carried no more than 50 passengers, there was no need to obtain proper passenger certificates and the new “Sheildhall”, with her comfortable saloon ‘for the use of the Sewage committee and council officials’, began taking passengers on her daily down-river trips. In August 1912, to mark the centenary of Henry Bell’s “Comet” and while the official party travelled to The Tail of The Bank on MacBrayne’s magnificent paddle steamer “Columba”, other representatives of the river’s shipbuilding industry embarked on the “Sheildhall” to view the lines of warships, merchant ships and yachts drawn up off Greenock. With the “Dalmuir” being sold off in December 1920, she then seeing forty years service as an Esso tanker at Southampton and only scrapped in 1960, the “Sheildhall”, with her 14-man crew, ‘not excessive’ in view of her being allowed to carry up to 80 passengers, carried on alone until 1925 when the “Dalmarnock” came into service. Despite “Shieldhall” receiving an extensive refit after World War II, her passenger certificate was cancelled and, in 1955, she was replaced by a new “Shieldhall”, built by Lobnitz’ Renfrew yard, that successor later being sold to Southern Water at the end of her career and now, being preserved by enthusiasts, operating day cruises for their ‘Solent Steam Packet Company’.
Though the Maids and the ABC car-ferries early on been fitted start with radar sets, it was 1960 before the turbines and paddle steamers were to benefit and, as had happened in August 1953 when MacBrayne’s “Saint Columba” ran ashore in Bute’s Ettrick Bay, the “Duchess of Montrose” too hit a big summer fog bank lying across the south end of Bute and the Cumbraes as we headed northwards one evening on our way back from Ailsa Craig. Bigger than a puffer - the wee boy on the “Maggie” used a bucket of coal lumps, “If they ‘Plop’ it’s O.K. ! “ - and without the advantage of radar, the “Duchess of Montrose” entered the fog bank cautiously at slow speed with lookouts posted forward and on the bridge wings as the cold and damp fog began to swirl round the ship the fog’s thickness only now letting us but half of the ship’s decklength ahead of us. There is a disconcerting eeriness about fog for it too blankets sound and we were immediately conscious of the silence of the ship, now just like a sailing yacht, slipping silently through the water and too we were struck by the silence of the sea-birds which normally accompanied our passage. Suddenly the ship was shuddering, her engine-room telegraph bells only and belatedly springing into life and ringing ! As luck would have it, a puff of wind had momentarily cleared the fog and we had narrowly avoided running straight on to the Wee Cumbrae shore ! Needless to say, the big fog bank only ran on for another few hundred yards and we broke out into the evening sunshine just beside the Wee Cumbrae’s castle. Not Ailsa ? Such was the popularity of the Saturday afternoon Ailsa Craig cruises, some 300 hopeful passengers appearing each time at Largs, that they were rarely cancelled even in bad weather, the ship then running through The Tan, between 26
the Cumbraes and turning up the Bute shore to cruise into The Kyles of Bute and out towards Ardlamont Point, the return taking us into Loch Riddon and on at least one rare occasion to the head of Loch Striven. On one occasion too, though its reason is now forgotten, the Ailsa Craig cruise was cancelled and the “Duchess of Montrose” instead headed for Craigendoran to pick up the late Saturday afternoon 4.50 p.m. sailing to Rothesay. Craigendoran was generally off-limits to the deeper-drafted turbines because of the shallowness of the approach to the pier but, it too was the case that one of the ABC car ferries had also made a call there, going in on a high ‘spring’ tide. To The “Talisman” Clear of the Wee Cumbrae, our interest now lay in the exact whereabouts of the diesel-electric “Talisman” which should be nearing Millport’s Old Pier on her ‘down run’ from Wemyss Bay and Largs. If she were late, as sometimes happened on a Saturday, it opened up the possibility of leaving the “Duchess of Montrose” at Keppel Pier, where we were due at 7.20 p.m. and ‘being nice’ to Millport Motors’ bus driver, get him to take us round the bay in his 29-seat Bedford OB to catch the “Talisman” due to leave Millport’s Old Pier at 7.25 p.m. on the ‘up run’ to Largs (7.50 p.m.), Wemyss Bay (8.20/8.30 p.m.), Rothesay (9.00/9.15 p.m.), Dunoon (10 p.m.) and then ‘home’ to Gourock at 10.20 p.m. - to catch the last, 10.40 p.m. bus back again to Wemyss Bay ! If the “Talisman” were on time, we would, in any case, catch her at Largs. The “Talisman” made coffee-drinking interesting, her general vibrations, more severe than those of the too dieselelectric “Lochfyne”, causing crockery and cutlery alike to glide gradually to the window-end of the forward saloon’s tables and encouraging passengers to wager on the outcome
based Maid and an ABC car ferry still hard at work too. Home From The Sea
Highland Games and Mail Boats Thus via Largs and Wemyss Bay to Rothesay which, like Dunoon, had its colourful Highland Games and on such evenings the ship, the last connection that night to the mainland, would convey the pipe bands and individual competitors, each playing their own ‘competing renditions’ against each other as we left the pier and headed up-river into the descending darkness. With the exception of Saturday nights, when there was no service, anyone missing the last boat from Rothesay could seek passage on the former fishing-boat “Endeavour” which left Rothesay at midnight on the mail run direct to Gourock, the fare being “half-a-dollar (2/6d = 12½p) and 10 Woodbine cigarettes” ! In later years, the “Endeavour” was succeeded by Gourock-based Ritchie Brothers’ “Kempock Lad”, she supposed to leave Gourock, with mail and newspapers for Dunoon and Rothesay at about 2.30 a.m.. Despite the fact that the “Talisman” had ‘no engines to see’, only the casing of her big ‘English Electric’ motor on the paddle-wheel shaft turning at around 44-revolutions per minute, the visual absence of ‘a proper engine’ did nothing to deter her passengers from seeking ‘internal lubrication’ at every opportunity. Though Bute Highland Games were always fairly well attended, the traffic returning from Dunoon’s Highland Games demanded that the Craigendoran- based paddle steamers and the Gourock-based turbine steamers all had turn round at the end of their regular Saturday runs and head back to Dunoon to clear away the waiting crowds of mainly Glasgow-bound passengers and, as we ourselves left Dunoon at 10 p.m., it wasn’t unusual to find a Gourock27
It now about 10.20 p.m., our berth at Gourock lay near one of the station entrances thus, hopefully, speeding up the transfer of passengers from ship to train and here a puzzle ! Why, one wonders, when ships are ships, why are their connecting trains called ‘boat trains’ ? With about fifteen minutes before the arrival of the last Wemyss Bay-bound bus, there was usually just enough time, with good reason, to walk from Gourock pier to the chip shop beside The Ashton Hotel. The exercise was well justified for the then owner of the shop always tripped out of the hotel at closing time to make the most wonderful chips imaginable, these crisp and brown and dry and just perfectly fried in beef dripping - and perhaps just a little alcohol ? And so, after near 200-miles sailing in the course of a near 19-hour day, it was home on the bus to Wemyss Bay. Though the paddle steamer “Waverley” now continues to Round Ailsa Craig, the withdrawal of the “Duchess of Montrose” and the Jeanie Deans”, at the end of the 1964 season, signalled the beginning of the end for Clyde cruises. Tripping Around On The Steamers Though the individual histories of all the Clyde steamers have been well- recorded by a number of authors, few have seen fit to give an overview of how the various ships ran in service and to that end the following summary of services in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s may be of value. Sailing daily, including Sundays, from Glasgow’s Bridge Wharf, on the south side of the river, at 11 a.m., the turbine “Queen Mary” sailed down river for Gourock, Dunoon, Rothesay and through The Kyles of Bute to Tighnabruiach where the passengers had about an hour ashore.
The “Saint Columba”, later the “Lochfyne”, lying overnight at Greenock’s Custom House Quay and, Sundays excepted, proceeded ‘light’ to Gourock each morning and then, at 9.15 a.m., sailed for Dunoon, Innellan, Rothesay, Tighnabruiach and Tarbert to make the connection with the service from West Loch Tarbert to Gigha, Jura, Islay and Colonsay and, in summer only, to Ardrishaig. The Gourock-based turbines, the “Duchess of Hamilton” and “Duchess of Montrose”, split and shared their rosters 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 the Campbeltown run, the then freed ship taking an afternoon cruise to Arran. The “Duchess of Hamilton”, taking the Campbeltown run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, alternate Sundays and alternate Mondays, was off on Wednesdays, via The Kyles of Bute and Tighnabruiach to Brodick and down the Arran coast to Pladda, the return run being made direct from Brodick to Largs etc.. Off too on Fridays, she sailed via Brodick to Ayr and then offered a short afternoon cruise, strongly supported by Butlin’s Heads of Ayr campers, round Arran’s Holy Isle, the destination being changed to Turnberry Light if there was a heavy swell from the south. The “Duchess of Montrose” operating the other Campbeltown sailings, went to Inveraray, for The Loch Eck Tour, on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then did the Ailsa Craig cruise after covering the busy Saturday morning ‘reliefs’ to Dunoon and Rothesay. The Craigendoran-based paddlers “Jeannie Deans” and “Waverley” alternated rosters weekly the Round Bute cruise roster operating daily, except Saturdays when the ship made a double run to Rothesay and the Round Bute cruise being advertised as ‘towards Skipness’ or Skate Island on Sundays. The other Craigendoran paddle roster provided, as did the “Duchess of Hamilton” on Wednesdays, the Monday 28
cruise through The Kyles of Bute to Brodick and Pladda; on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the ‘3 Lochs’ (Loch Goil, Loch Long and Lomond) and ‘Hell’s Glen’ (via Lochgoilhead to Inveraray) Tour connections, the ship leaving Craigendoran at 10.10 a.m. for Kilcreggan, Gourock, Dunoon, Blairmore, Lochgoilhead and Arrochar and then, in the late afternoon, taking up the 4.50 p.m. return service to Rothesay and too operating a double run on the Craigendoran - Rothesay on non-cruise days. Boat Trains and Connections On Tuesdays and Thursdays, though a special ‘boat train’ ran ‘The 3 Lochs Tour’ passengers from Balloch to Craigendoran, it was actually faster to use the ordinary service trains, filling up with ‘the school run’ and then changing at Dumbarton to reach Craigendoran some ten minutes ahead of ‘the boat train’ whose timings were set to allow a steam locomotive to ‘change ends’ at Dumbarton. Too on these days, while the Rothesay-based Maid-Class vessel took the Millport, Largs and Wemyss Bay passengers to Dunoon to connect with ‘The 3 Lochs Tour’ and bus connections giving a reverse ‘Loch Eck Tour’ connection to Inveraray and a ‘Hell’s Glen Tour’ variant to Lochgoilhead, it was the stalwart little “Countess of Breadalbane” which picked up the return connections from Dunoon in the late afternoon. A Maid-Class vessel also gave an Arrochar sailing on Saturdays but this was little used as Saturdays were essentially ‘change-over’ days for holidaymakers coming or going on holiday. On Wednesdays, the Craigendoran ‘Round The Lochs’ cruise roster provided a reverse Round Bute trip from Largs in the morning which, from Rothesay and Dunoon in the afternoon, took the ship into The Holy Loch and Loch Goil before returning to Largs, then Millport and Rothesay. While the permanently Kilmun-based “Maid of Ashton” spent her career on the Holy Loch service, her three sisters, the “Maid of Argyll”, “Maid of Cumbrae” and “Maid of Skelmorlie”, swopped rosters on a three week cycle so that
one covered the Craigendoran - Rothesay run; another, based at Gourock, covered some afternoon cruises, such as Hunter’s Quay to Dunagoil Bay and the third, based at Rothesay, ran morning ‘Café Cruises’ and the daily afternoon Cumbrae Circle cruise, the Millport-based “Talisman” doing the Largs - Wemyss Bay service and a reverse Cumbrae Circle sailing close by Kilchattan Bay. School Tripping ! Going to secondary school, from Skelmorlie to Greenock Academy, I spent my first year there walking the twentyminute journey pointlessly every week to the games field at Fort Matilda only to discover that the Games Master never turned up. From second year onwards, if ‘games days’ were on Mondays or Wednesdays, I would catch the 3 p.m. bus to Wemyss Bay, leave my school bag in the station bookstall or ticket office and take the 3.30 p.m. Maid-Class vessel to Largs, have coffee in ‘The Moorings and catch the returning Brodick and Pladda sailing home, via Rothesay, to reach Wemyss Bay at 5.45 p.m.. If ‘games day’ fell to a Tuesday or Thursday, I would walk on past the Fort Matilda playing fields, watch the girls, in their short gym-tunics playing hockey at the Battery Park and then walk on to Gourock to catch ‘The 3 Lochs Tour’ connection, now heading for Dunoon and then the “Countess of Breadalbane” which would get me back to Wemyss Bay for tea. I was actually in sixth-year before the school rector called me in to find out why I hadn’t been at game the previous day ! “Where were you yesterday at 4 o’clock when the roll was taken at ‘games’ ? “ he asked. “Sitting in Largs, in ‘The Moorings’ having coffee with The Provost of Largs’ daughter,” I replied. The rector looked at me for a moment, somewhat puzzled at what to say next. “Did you know that we got a new P.E. teacher a couple of years ago, one that actually takes ‘games’ ? “ he asked. “Yes,” I replied, “I went to ‘games’ every day of his first term but he never turned up 29
until late either.” Knowing full well the truth of affairs, the school rector, himself a lay church reader and me by then a church organist, readily accepted my argument that I wasn’t ‘skiving’ off ‘school games’ in the true sense of ‘skiving’ and I finished my school days without any demands for me ever to turn up at the school playing fields again ! With the car ferry “Arran” on the Gourock - Dunoon run, the “Bute” running between Rothesay and Wemyss Bay and the Fairlie-based “Glen Sannox” on the Brodick - Ardrossan service, the “Cowal” operated a thrice-weekly Wemyss Bay - Millport car ferry service and then backed up the others at weekends. The Millport-based “Ashton” and “Leven”, running the Largs ferry service, were off on Sundays and then relieved by the “Countess of Breadalbane” which, for the rest of the week and despite her 10½-knot service speed, was employed on a variety of ‘feeder services’, such as that returning Loch Eck Tour passengers from Dunoon to Wemyss Bay and Largs. The “Caledonia”, based at Ayr from Mondays to Thursdays to give ‘up-Firth’ cruises, gave an excursion to Casmpbeltown on Mondays and this connection, though it was unadvertised as such, allowed tourists to travel down Kilbrannan Sound to Campbeltown on the turbine steamer and then, picking up the “Caledonia”, take her to Whiting Bay (closed at the end of the 1961 season) and then walk, or take the bus, over the hill to Lamlash and take the bus from there to Brodick to catch the car ferry “Glen Sannox” back to Fairlie on her last run of the day. There were for long, no car ferry sailings to Arran on Sundays and the “Glen Sannox”, lying at Brodick from Saturday night, would leave on ‘The Death Run’, from 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 said that Arran, Cumbrae and Bute all belonged to the County of Bute and some Arran school-children even made their way to school n Rothesay, rather than to Ardrossan, for their final years studies. At weekends, the “Caledonia” was based at Gourock and on Fridays gave an up-river cruise from Largs to Glasgow where one could join a coach for a tour of the city. On Fridays too, the “Duchess of Hamilton” going to Ayr, it was possible to do another ‘unadvertised circular’ taking the 2 p.m. train from Ayr and then joining the “Caledonia” in Glasgow for the run back down to Largs. The “Caledonia” too began the practice of sailing from Gourock to Millport’s Illuminations every Glasgow September Weekend Saturday, these sailings now continued by “Balmoral” from Glasgow and, when “Caledonia” was withdrawn, performed by the turbine “Queen Mary”. Millport Illuminations The Millport Illuminations’ Cruises, with the little ‘padella lights’ on the Inner and Outer Eileans and all the island’s shop windows specially decorated for the occasion, have always drawn huge crowds and passengers trying to board at Largs often being turned away for lack of room on board the ships. On these occasions, the only way to see and meet up with all ‘the regulars’ on board was to be first off at Millport and walk quickly out along the town front, past The Garrison, to the furthest out ‘hostelry’, there being another three on the way back to ‘investigate’. The final ‘port-of-call’ in these days was, not to the chip shop but, to the Chinese take-away which always made the better fish suppers and chips which were eaten as we watched the ship’s passengers boarding for the return sailing up-river. An Illuminating Display 30
With the withdrawal of the “Caledonia” at the end of 1969, the turbine- driven “Queen Mary” found herself on the annual cruise to Millport Illuminations and though the regular masters and mates of the paddle steamers and Maid Class vessels, generally, had no problems entering or leaving Millport’s Old Pier via the main channel between the Spoig and the Outer Eilean even at low tide, when there was as little as 7-feet of water over the rocky bottom, it was a different matter for those only vaguely familiar with the surrounding waters to take a deeper-drafted turbine steamer in and out, not least at low tide and at night. It was not however Millport that proved the problem for one master of the “Queen Mary” but rather the better known faces of the piers at Largs and Rothesay which made a mockery of his ship-handling skills as we returned from Millport and there was no adverse weather either to blame for what took place as we tried to berth. No Swell Show at Largs The approach to Largs from the south is perfectly straightforward, even if there is a slight swell running and even if the swell is washing on to the solid face of the pier. The sequence of engine-room and docking-telegraph orders from “Full Ahead” together, is ordinarily minimal - “Half Ahead” together - “Slow Ahead” together - “Stop” together - “Half Astern” together - “Throw Line(s)” forward and aft “Stop” port (outer) engine and “Haul In” forward (bow) line, the starboard (inner) engine continuing to be allowed to go astern to pull the ship’s bow and hull in towards the pier “Stop” starboard (inner) engine and “Make Fast” forward (bow) and after (stern) lines, the ship now moored securely alongside and the pier gangways slid on board. The exercise is virtually the same pier-in, pier out but, that night on the “Queen Mary”, coming into Largs from Millport, there more than 90 telegraph orders !
We managed to get away from Largs late but smoothly “Let Go” forward (bow) line, “Slow Astern” port (outer) engine and “Hold In” after (stern) line - “Stop” outer (port) engine - “Let Go” after (stern) line - “Haul In” after (stern) line - “Slow Ahead” port (outer) engine to lift us slowly away from the face of the pier, the docking-telegraphs from the bow and stern now ringing their “All Clear” signals, indicating bow and stern lines safely clear from the water and coming inboard - the ship then giving 2 blasts (Going to Port) on her whistle and engine-room telegraphs now to “Half Ahead” both engines, the engineers simply turning the ‘centre’ throttle wheel which admitted steam to both the outer and the centre ‘ahead’ turbines and finally “Full Ahead”, on the Clyde, unlike the practice on MacBrayne’s and deep-sea ships, there was no ‘double ring’ of the ‘Full Ahead’ signal to the engine room and the telegraphs wouldn’t be touched until approaching the next pier, here, Rothesay. Jacket’s Off ! As we approached Craigmore, the young second engineer who had been off-watch, down in his cabin with his girlfriend, now ‘straightening his tie’ and pulling on his uniform jacket, came along the starboard main deck alleyway to go on watch and relieve the chief engineer before going in to Rothesay. “You won’t need the jacket ! “ I said to him as he passed, “The Chief’ll tell you ! “ The by-now recovered chief engineer, now officially off watch, stayed to watch the next chapter of events ! Sweeping round Rothesay Bay, we approached the pier’s ‘No 1’ berth just as though the ship was coming down from Tighnabruiach and The Kyles of Bute. This was an everyday 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 the Wemyss Bay car ferry all tied up for the night and at the easterly ‘No 3’ berth, at the other end of the pier and the entrance to Rothesay’s inner harbour, lay one of the Maid31
Class vessels, it too deserted and tied up for the night. By rights we should have berthed easily, the sequence of engine-room and docking telegraph orders being near-exactly those described in the fore-going for going alongside at Largs but, by some perverse chance of nature, the Rothesay pierman was a little late in grasping the end of the ship’s forward heaving-line, it was after all just past 10 o’clock and “closing time” ashore and by the time he had dragged and lifted the loop of the main forward (bow) line over the top of the pier bollard and the ship’s capstan could even start to haul the line tight, a light evening breeze caught the ship and began to push the ship’s stern out into Rothesay Bay making all attempts to throw the heaving lines ashore, for the ship’s after (stern) and ‘waist’ ropes, fruitless ! The simple solution was to “Slack Away”, then have the Rothesay piermen, the length of line now out would need two men, lift the bow line off the pier bollard and ring “Haul In” on the forward docking-telegraph and, once clear of the pier, do a quick ‘Round-The-Bay’ circle and come alongside the berth again ! But then, determinedly, the master hung on to his pier and, strung out like a fish on a fishing-line, we went “Dead Slow Ahead” trying to edge the ship, now at right-angles to the pier, ever closer in towards the ‘No 1’ berth. With the evening breeze continuing to push our stern round to the east, it wasn’t long before we were bow on and at a 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 young 2nd engineer not only had his jacket off but too had discarded his tie as he struggled with the now ever-ringing engine-room telegraphs and the engine throttles. Eventually, one of the Rothesay piermen appeared on the deserted Wemyss Bay car ferry’s stern and caught another heaving line from our bow, this being the port-side bow heaving line and once caught it fed down to another pierman
on the pier and the now snagging starboard bow line from the ship was slackened off and quickly hauled in-board so that we could edge our way forward into our berth, our stern-rope heaving lines too being passed down to the pier via the car ferry’s stern ! We were now unusually, probably uniquely, facing ‘bowout’, in a westerly direction from ‘No 1’ berth, were nearly half-an-hour late in near-inexplicable circumstances and had only berthed after, thought the chief engineer, some 110 engine-room telegraph orders and an unknown count of docking-telegraph orders. We left Rothesay with the ship’s mate taking over the watch, the despairing master retreating to his cabin for the rest of the run and being off on ‘sick leave’ for some time afterwards. The ship, now under increased speed to make up time - and cut overtime too - was quickly in and out of Dunoon and berthed at Gourock little more than ten minutes late, a very tired ship’s 2nd engineer leaving his girlfriend to walk home alone to Ashton while he shut the ship down for the night ! ‘The Narrows’ and Other Manoeuvres Though the width of ‘The Narrows’, at the north end of Bute, was barely enough to accommodate the big paddle steamers and most masters reduced their speed to negotiate the passage. MacBrayne’s three-funnelled turbine “Saint Columba” regularly used the inshore West ‘Yacht’ Channel instead of ‘The Narrows’ and, despite the channel’s fairly tight right-angled bend, her master took her through at full speed regardless of the state of tide, a manoeuvre which guaranteed him reaching Tighnabruiach each morning ahead of any opposing ships. In later years, the West ‘Yacht’ Channel was occasionally used on Sunday afternoons when, or so it seemed, nearly every afternoon cruise headed for The Kyles and Tighnabruiach. 32
In summer, with the turbines and paddle steamers crewed by the all-year-round masters and mates, the other ‘mates’ holding, at least, ‘Home Trade’ masters certificates were temporarily promoted masters of the ABC car-ferries and Maid-Class vessels and summer contracts were given to temporary mates, many home on leave from deep-sea companies to study for their deep-sea chief officer’s and master’s ‘tickets’, men unused to ‘ship-handling’ ! One of the ‘new’ mates joined the Wemyss Bay - Rothesay car ferry but lasted only four days ! He had been on the evening watch, taking the weekday 6.20 p.m. run to Rothesay and three nights running had made a mess of berthing at Rothesay, the passengers missing their bus connections home from the bus stances at Guildford Square. The disgruntled passengers complained to the Gourock office, not so much that they had missed their buses but rather, that on third night, the Wednesday night, that they had missed their regular dose of “Tom & Jerry” cartoons on BBC TV ! Another ‘new’ mate, on the “Waverley”, was fired for ‘following the map on the company’s brochure and hazarding the ship ! “ The “Waverley” had been on the Monday cruise through The Kyles of Bute to Brodick and Round Pladda and the weather being calm, there being no sea swell and the helmsman on duty himself belonging to the south end of Arran, the mate had, as the company’s route map promised passengers, taken the lightly-loaded paddle steamer inside Pladda and over the reefy bottom which joins Pladda to Arran. That same season, another ‘new’ mate was fired for obscure reasons and he was then, almost immediately, successful in 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 before the ‘master-to-be’ went for his medical, he met some of his sea-going pals in London to celebrate his appointment, it understandably cancelled the next day when he subsequently appeared for his medical ! Undaunted the miscreant returned to Greenock and signed on with the local employment exchange seeking a job as ‘master of a paddle steamer’ ! As The Clyde was by then the last preserve of the paddle steamers and the company had already fired him, it was two years later, by which time he had passed his deepsea master’s ticket, before he got a job and finally signed off ! Twin-Screw Turnarounds The main reason for the “Duchess of Hamilton” visiting Ayr on Fridays was to give Butlin’s Heads of Ayr holidaymakers an afternoon cruise Round Holy Isle and even in heavy southerly swells, with some 800 passengers coming from Butlin’s, the steamer ventured out turning into the swell and running down the Ayrshire coast to turn homewards when abreast of Turnberry Lighthouse, the process of turning in the swells demanding good timing. The regular master of the “Duchess of Hamilton” was a sociable character and on one such occasion had been down in the ship’s bar ‘ensuring that the ship’s passengers were comfortable’ and, as we neared Turnberry, one of the assistant pursers was sent down to update him on the ship’s position. Excusing himself from the company, the captain made up the stairs on to the main deck and, passing along the alleyway, he stuck his head into the doorway of the engineroom to find out who was on watch before continuing on up to the bridge to take over from the mate while the ship was turned homewards. Abreast of Turnberry Lighthouse, the captain watched the oncoming swells for his opportunity and then waved his arm for the helmsman to spin the wheel hard 33
to starboard. As the ship’s bow began to swing, the captain rang the engine-room telegraph for the starboard engine to “Stop” and then to “Full Astern” so that it helped pull the ship, now beginning to roll heavily with the southerly swells on her beam, round on to her homeward course. As the ship’s head came further round, he then reduced the starboard engine’s power from “Full Astern” to “Slow Astern” and “Stop”, the ship now steadying herself and the swells now nearly astern. 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 helmsman and the mate, disappeared down the bridge stair and went back to see how the ship’s passengers had fared during the manoeuvre ! The seeming nonchalance of the captain of the “Duchess of Hamilton” was also part of the character of one P. & A. Campbell’s Bristol Channel masters, a man still in charge despite his then reportedly 80+ years. By the time of the story, Campbell’s had apparently got into the habit of returning day trippers homewards by coach if the weather turned nasty and, on this occasion, the relieving mate of the paddle steamer had already telephoned for coaches to take the ship’s passengers home. Hearing this, the old captain, despite the big seas now running outside the harbour heads, cancelled the coaches and took himself past the engine-room as he made his way to the ship’s bridge. Until their very end, all Campbell’s own ships had open bridges, the few with radar having these installed in a small cabin abaft the open steering positions. Once on the bridge, the old captain ‘let go’ the steamer’s bow and stern lines and let the wind blow the ship out towards the centre of the harbour. An engine-room telegraph fitted beside the ship’s steering wheel, as is common on many ships, the old captain waited until the ship’s stern was just about in line with the end of the harbour wall, he rang
the engine “Full Astern” and, expertly spinning the steeringwheel as the ship quickly gathered way, he took the steamer ‘dead-centre’ out of the harbour into the big running swells, quite a feat considering too that his visibility was considerably restricted by the ship’s funnel. As the bow cleared the harbour entrance, he spun the wheel down hard to starboard and rang “Stop” on the engine-room telegraph. Almost immediately, without waiting for the paddle wheels to stop, the ship’s engineers primed to his orders, the old captain rang now for “Full Ahead” and spun the steeringwheel hard to port as the ship slowed, stopped momentarily and then, without even waiting for the paddle beats to 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 again saved the company having to hire a dozen or so coaches to take everyone home ! On Saturday, September 17, 1966, we went up-river on the “Maid of Argyll” to Paisley Harbour, the swing-bridge over the river at Inchinnan being closed for the final time and the harbour soon closed to even puffers, two of the last of them being there that afternoon. With Paisley Harbour already well-silted and having berthed ‘bow in’ to let people get good photographs of the occasion, the captain of the “Maid of Argyll” ran out a light ‘heavingline’ across the harbour to one of the puffer-men in case we needed to warp the ship round to get out of the harbour and down-river again. In the event, the ‘heaving-line’ became redundant for the captain was able simply to ‘let go’ the bow and stern lines, let us drift out into the centre of the harbour and, with the wheel ‘hard-to- starboard’, by ringing for “Half Ahead” on the port (inner) engine and “Half Astern” on the starboard (outer) engine, he swung the ship round in near her own length and moments later, ships’ whistles blowing, we set off home at “Half Ahead” together so as not to create a damaging wash on the riverbanks. 34
Steam and Engines
he design of the first machine to harness the properties of steam is generally attributed to Hero of Alexandria, around 130 B.C.. Next came Blasco de Garay, a Spaniard, who, on Thursday, June 14, 1543, is believed to have successfully crossed Cadiz harbour in a steam paddle-boat and, had it not been for the suspicion of The Spanish Inquisition, the 1588 Spanish Armada might well have run rings round the English fleet just as would happen when Parson’s “Turbinia” appeared at the Spithead Fleet Review in 1897. In 1695, Denys Papin launched a small paddle steamer on The Seine but the engine’s inefficiency led further development to be abandoned at the that time. Next came Thomas Newcomen who, in 1712, built a steam engine to pump water from the Cornish mines and then, in 1765, came James Watt who devised the modifications to overcome Newcomen’s engine’s shortcomings. James Watt’s condenser ensured that steam was no longer wasted and Watt used the force of the steam to effect both upward and downward movement of the piston(s) subsequently adding the eccentric crank and the parallel motion necessary to make engines work properly. Importantly too, Watt identified that it was necessary to keep the cylinder at the same temperature as the steam from the boiler before condensing the steam in a separate vessel and to found the need to make the cylinder watertight, covering it with liquid fat or oil instead of water ! In 1782, a cut-off valve was introduced to cut the supply of steam to the cylinder before the piston completed its stroke and a flywheel which, by its momentum, balanced the engine and carried the crank past ‘dead spots’, these making the engine difficult to turnover and start.
Following Watt’s death in 1819, his papers and records were moved to Doldowhold House, Radnorshire, which he had bought in 1785 and there they have lain unlooked-at and gathering dust ever since. With the death of their custodian, Lord Gibson-Watt, they may now at last come into the public domain. The Smoking Stacks - “The Deil himsel’ coming doon all in smoke - Guid save us !“ Probably few could have realised the significance of the new order of things of which ‘the smoking stacks’ were a sign. It meant the end of comparative isolation to countless communities and the beginning of a new age, of ‘steam’. James Watt and ‘The Happy Conception’ Watt, son of a Greenock merchant and town councillor, was born in 1736. He went to Glasgow, in 1754, to learn the trade of a mathematical-instrument maker but, The Hammerman’s Guild putting up difficulties in his way to start his own business, he found a job with Glasgow’s University in 1757. During the winter of 1763-1764, Dr John Anderson, Professor of Natural Philosophy - natural science, asked him to repair a model of one of Newcomen’s steam engines, which Watt quickly did. The Newcomen engine, successfully used in pumping water from mines for nearly 50 years, consisted of three main parts : the boiler, which converted the water to steam; the cylinder, into which the steam entered below the raised piston and was condensed by a jet of cold water and the beam, a rocking arm supported at mid-length, which was pulled down on one side when the condensed steam left a vacuum below the piston. 35
In the Newcomen engine, the top of the piston was exposed to the atmosphere and the downward ‘ power’ stroke resulted from atmospheric pressure, hence the name atmospheric engine. As the beam rocked, it pulled up a rod, which, in the case of the mines, was connected to a pump which drained the mine of water. While repairing the model engine, Watt figured out why the Newcomen’s engine required so much steam, the problem lay in the cylinder where there was a rapid swing of temperature. When the steam entered, the cylinder need to be at 212° Fahrenheit to avoid heat loss, but to condense the steam, the cylinder needed to be at about 60° Fahrenheit. Much energy, too much, was lost in reheating the cylinder walls for each stroke of the cylinder. Between that winter of 1763-1764 and May 1765, Watt carried out a number of experiments. Then, one Sunday morning, while strolling on Glasgow Green, came the idea of a separate condenser. The idea was simple, a vessel immersed in cold water, away from the cylinder itself, into which the hot steam could be fed thus allowing the cylinder to remain hot continuously. This ‘happy conception’, which formed the first step in his career, would immortalise Watt’s name. Watt however struggled with his ideas for some nine years, during which he undertook the surveys of The Forth and Clyde (1767), Tarbert/Crinan (1771) and Campbeltown Coal (1773) canals and then, after an abortive enterprise with John Roebuck, who had founded the Carron Ironworks in Stirlingshire in 1759, Watt moved to Birmingham and entered partnership with Matthew Boulton, as Boulton & Watt, in 1774, they would dominate the steam engine market across The World for the next twenty-five years.
Watt also met up with iron founder John Wilkinson, who had just patented a new method of boring out cannons and his cylinder problems were over. Watt had patented his separate condenser in 1769, in these days a 14-year patent which would have expired in 1783. Boulton, realising he could never recover his capital investment in such a short time, successfully lobbied Parliament and, in May 1775, was granted a 25-year patent extension. Between 1781 and 1785, Watt would patent the ‘sun and planet’ motion, the expansion principle, the double engine, the parallel motion, a smokeless furnace, the governor and the steam carriage, a model of which William Murdock tried out at Redruth in 1784, forty years before the Stockton - Darlington railway hit the headlines. In the early days of steamboats, the practice of making them go astern was either unknown or only effected by accident ! The custom was to stop the engine when a considerable way from the quay and, hopefully, drift alongside This was indeed a difficult operation, dependent on the co-operation of wind and tide and luck ! The “Dumbarton Castle”, built in 1815, had been the first steamer to reach Rothesay, her master, Captain Johnston, had even been given a punch bowl by Rothesay’s Town Council for his ‘daring’. In the following year, 1816, James Watt made his final trip home to Scotland and had taken a trip to Rothesay on the “Dumbarton Castle”, the first steamer to venture out of the Clyde’s sheltered upper reaches on a regular basis, the first steamer to call at Rothesay. Naturally Watt entered into conversation with the ship’s engineer and was told that on the previous evening the ship had run aground on the river-bank while going up-river home. Fortunately, as the tide flooded, the pressure of the current on the paddle-floats had caused the engine to reverse and the ship came off the river-bank. Watt instantly grasped 36
what had happened and, using a ‘foot-rule’, proceeded to demonstrate to the engineer the importance of what had occurred. Unable to make the ship’s engineer understand the theoretical, Watt threw off his coat and putting his hand to the engine’s controls gave a practical illustration of his lecture to the engineer ! Watt’s discovery was momentous and now enabled the ship to come alongside piers with ‘precision and promptitude’ - Thus, the first intentional reversing of a marine engine occurred at Rothesay Pier ! The Pioneers Partick Miller, proprietor of Dalswinton in Dumfries-shire, his son’s tutor, James Taylor and mining engineer William Symington took steam to the water in 1786 and for the next couple of years their little 25-foot boat could be seen steaming around the confines of Dalswinton Loch. Then, in 1802, to the order of Lord Dundas, Governor of The Forth & Clyde Canal , Symington built the “Charlotte Dundas”, a stern-wheeler tug and, on a wet and windy March day, she set off along the canal towing tow barges, the “Euphemia” and the “Active”. Despite their weighing some 70 tons each and despite going against the wind, their 20-mile journey took just six hours. Fears that the steamers’ wash would damage the canal banks led to the project being abandoned and though Symington’s ‘apparatus’ became neglected here others recognised its potential including Robert Fulton, a painter of miniature portraits and landscapes from Philadelphia, studying in London. Across The Pond On August 22, 1787, John Fitch paved the way against wind and tide on the Delaware River with his little 30-foot steam
paddle launch. By 1790 he had established a regular service between Philadelphia and Burlington, but it was not a commercial success. In August 1787, James Rumsey made two trial runs with his steam launch on the Potomac River and got to a speed of 3 mph before part of his boiler failed. He tried again, twice, in December that same year but continued to have boiler problems. Both inventors used their own designed reciprocating engines but, while Rumsey used a set of vertical paddles, imitating galley slaves’ oars, Rumsey’s boat had a simplified form of jet propulsion. Fish and Rumsey both tried to get local monopolies to fend off each other and too to establish priority of invention. Designed therefore primarily to deal with steamboat claims, Congress, on April 10, 1790 passed the very first U.S. patent law. Robert Fulton In 1797, Fulton abandoned painting and went off to France where he made a couple of experiments with steamboats on The Seine in 1803, too slow for his backer and for Napoleon ! Fulton had also devised a prototype submarine torpedo boat but neither the French nor British were interested. What is important about Fulton is the undoubted fact that, though he was not the first to apply steam to ships, he was the first to do it successfully. Unlike Fitch and Rumsey and other steamboat designers who tried to use their own engines, Fulton’s simple goal was to design a successful steamboat using already available ideas and components and his obvious choice for engineers were Boulton and Watt. Fulton too had a financial backer, Robert R. Livingston, who owned an imposing estate on the Hudson River and who had 37
managed to get the New York State Legislature to grant Fulton and himself the promise of a 20-year monopoly to operate a 20-ton, at least, boat on all New York waters, at a rate of 4 mph. “The mechanic,” wrote Fulton, “should sit down among levers, screws, wedges, wheels etc., like a poet among letters of the alphabet, considering them as the exhibition of his thoughts, in which a new arrangement transmits a new idea to The World.” Fulton returned to England, spoke to Henry Bell who would later build the “Comet” ( ! ) and placed his engine order in Birmingham and even before he reached New York, on December 13, 1806, his new Boulton and Watt engine had arrived ahead of him, all 20-horsepower of it. Yes, Fulton was building a ‘big boat’ 154-feet long, 18-feet beam and, for the shallow waters of the Upper Hudson River, just 2-feet in depth. The paddle-wheels too were ‘big’, 14-feet in diameter and designed to turn at 16 revolutions per minute. At 1 p.m. on Monday, August 17, 1807, Fulton’s “North River Steamboat”, soon to be called, after his backer’s etstate, the “Clermont”, went up the Hudson, known then in New York as the North, River to Clermont. The trip took 24-hours and then she went on to Albany, a total of 150 miles in just 32 hours, more than the necessary 4 mph. Fulton succeeded because of Watt’s engine but, he paid a heavy price because much of the engine’s power went to carry the heavy engine itself and the engine’s size considerably reduced the ship’s onboard space for passengers and cargo. Watt’s designs had proven effective for fixed power plants but they were not well suited to mobile plants where lightweight construction was of greater importance than fuel economy.
Fulton and his backers now built a second ship, the 371-ton “New Orleans” and she began operating on the lower Mississippi River in 1811. In her first year she cleared $20,000 profits for her owners “above expenses, repairs and interest on investment on a property valued at $40,000.” Two years later, the owners of the 371-ton “New Orleans” built another ship, this time a little ship, the 25-ton “Comet”, she was a complete failure ! So we turn to another 25-ton “Comet”, Henry Bell’s Clyde “Comet”, built in 1811, the same year as the 371ton Mississippi steamer “New Orleans”, to the first ‘Clyde Steamers’. “Comet” In 1800 and 1803, Henry Bell, a house-carpenter by trade, who had experience too of engineering and ship-modelling, laid plans before The Admiralty which showed the practicability of steam-power in ships. “If you do not adopt Mr Bell’s scheme, other nations will and, in the end, vex every vein of this Empire,” asserted Lord Nelson. The Lords were unimpressed ! Luckily for Britain, neither were the Americans nor indeed any of the others that Bell approached and, in 1811, he ordered his own steamboat ! “Comet”, with her 25-foot high funnel, fitted too with a small squaresail, was 43’ 6” long, 11’ 4” beam and 5’ 8” in depth. Bell fitted her with a single 12½” x 16” cylinder engine driving two paddle-wheels on each side of the hull - the engine was not specifically designed for the ship but was rather a stock design intended for other general stationary purposes. At 24½ tons, her 3 horsepower engine was not a great success ! She was withdrawn, fitted with a 4-hp engine and her paddle wheel arrangement altered at a cost of £365. On August 14, 1812, Bell’s advertisement appeared in “The Glasgow Chronicle”. 38
The Steamboat “Comet” Between Glasgow, Greenock and Helensburgh For Passengers Only The subscriber, having, at much expense, fitted up a handsome vessel to ply upon The River Clyde from Glasgow, to sail by the power of air, wind and steam, intends that the vessel shall leave The Broomielaw on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays about mid-Day, or such hour thereafter as may answer from the state of the tide and to leave Greenock on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the morning to suit the tide. The elegance, safety, comfort and speed of this vessel require only to be seen to meet the approbation of the public and the proprietor is determined to do everything in his power to merit general support. The terms are, for the present, fixed at 4/- for the best cabin and 3/- for the second but beyond these terms, nothing is to be allowed to servants or any person employed on the vessel. The subscriber continues his establishment at Helensburgh Baths, the same for years past and a vessel will be in readiness to convey passengers by the “Comet” from Greenock to Helensburgh. Passengers by the “Comet” will receive information of the hours of sailing by applying at Mr Houston’s office, Broomielaw or to Mr Thomas Blackney’s office, East Quay Head, Greenock. Henry Bell, Helensburgh Baths 5th August, 1812. In the event, the “Comet”, her draught being 4-feet and 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 from Glasgow to Tarbert and Fort William, via the Crinan Canal. She was transferred to Grangemouth for a few years but returned to The Clyde in 1819 and then was driven ashore and wrecked near Crinan on December 13, 1820. A second “Comet” was built in 1821, one of the shareholders was Neil Malcolm of Poltalloch, at Lochgilphead, who subscribed £50. So seemingly too did his wife who, like her husband, very trustingly left the cash in Henry Bell’s own hands ! Bell too was financially embarrassed at the time and one report has it that Bell had never settled accounts for the first “Comet” ! The new “Comet” was run down and sunk off Gourock by the “Ayr” on October 21, 1825 ! She took less than three minutes to sink and seventy passengers were drowned. Amongst her passengers was Jane Munro who, thanks to the efforts of a dog, was saved and the faithful animal remained by her insensible body after it was recovered, unwittingly however, the rescuers drove the dog away and, despite Jane’s later strenuous efforts to find her friend, the dog was never seen again. The “Comet” was subsequently raised, from a depth of 100-feet of water and, rigged as a sailing ship, traded around the coasts till 1876. Four days after the disaster to the second “Comet”, Henry Bell wrote to “The Glasgow Free Press” newspaper with proposals for licensing steamboats, as were stage coaches too in these days. “That all steam vessels at or under 20-horsepower be restricted not to carry more than 40 passengers - children from 6 to 12 years of age counting as one ‘½ passenger’ ; steamboats of more than 20-horsepower to be at liberty to carry one extra passenger for each horsepower in excess and each passenger allowed to carry 56 lbs of luggage. 39
This idea of children counting as ‘½ passengers’ was actually practised as late as the end of the 1960’s, much to the consternation of Captain Archie Downie from Campbeltown who asked ‘an unconcerned assistant purser’( ! ) “How many ? ” The number by then on board the ship was, by the “ ½ rule”, still below the maximum allowed but, “ ½ ‘s” counted as “1’s”, was well, well over the permitted complement ! Bell also proposed that all crews should be certificated and “that two lights, one at the bow and one at the mast-head, be put up one hour after sunset and an alarm bell and speaking trumpet be connected with the engine-room”. Further, “that all steam-boats meeting each other should give way to the larboard side and all steamboats, when overtaken by a swifter ship, should do the same and allow the swifter vessel to pass on their starboard side by stopping their engines as soon as the overtaking vessel came within thirty-feet of their stern.” Although Henry Bell’s enterprises with steamboats finished with the loss of the “Comet (II)”, a subscription was raised for him and The Clyde Trustees also bestowed on him an annuity of £100 per year, this continued to his widow when he died at Helensburgh in November 1830. Just seven months after the first “Comet” a competitor, the 30-ton “Elizabeth”, appeared on the river. Whereas the “Comet” had offered but a small after cabin furnished with a plain deal table and surrounded by plain deal seats, the new ship had fore and aft cabins, the aft cabin 21-feet long and 11’ 3” wide at the forward end and 9’ 4” wide at its after end, with 7’ 4” headroom. There were seats all round the cabin, the deck floor was carpeted, there was a comfortable sofa and the six sliding 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 furnished, was a tolerably comfortable retreat in cold or wet weather. In every successive steamer thereafter, the bid for passengers would be accompanied by improvements in accommodation and facilities. The “Elizabeth” was the first ship to have a specially built steam engine. Such was the strength and rapid growth of competition on The Clyde that she was forced out of business by 1815 and, under her own steam, transferred to Liverpool making her the first steamship to sail in Manx waters and the first steamship to sail on The Mersey. Horse Power and Paddle Wheels Different values have been given to the power of a horse. The standard generally adopted is that a horse can raise a weight of 33,000 lbs at the rate of one foot per minute, thus 1 horse-power, the standard applied to steam engines In fact, the medium power of a horse is rated as raising 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 miles per hour. On a railway, one horsepower is considered equal to transporting a load of 400 tons, 1 mile, in 1 day. The evaporation of a cubic inch of water, when converted into steam, affords a mechanical force capable of raising one ton to a height of one foot. Fifteen cubic inches of water, converted into steam are equal to the power of one horse per minute, 900 cubic inches of water, per hour, per horsepower. To evaporate this water, from 7 to 12 lbs of fuel are required in the same time, one hour but, in marine engines, the quantity of fuel consumed was reckoned to be about 8 lbs per 40
horse-power, per hour, about two-thirds the consumption of stationary engines. The very early steamboats were shallow-drafted and pretty basic in their hull design. There was little data available to help the first pioneers get their calculations right and a brief over-view of the mathematical principles employed in getting their boats steaming may be of interest at this point. Unless massive amounts of horsepower are used, the maximum speed of any ship is 1.4 times the square root of the waterline length of the ship’s hull, a fact of little interest to the early steamboat builders and engineers ! The first consideration was to calculate the drag of the ship. This is defined as the water pressure on the wetted surface area of the hull, multiplied by the drag coefficient for which factor elementary tables had been presented in the 1790’s by Mark Beaufoy his tables were in fact more demonstrative than accurate. In other words, one had to calculate the water’s resistance against the ship’s movement. Secondly, one had to calculate the ‘paddle power’ necessary to overcome the water resistance and the engine power necessary to power the paddles. And, thirdly, one had to calculate the size of the paddles necessary to move the boat at a given speed. The early steamboats, after the “Comet”, were a bit more than 100-feet in length. For purposes of following the principles outlined here, let us take the example of a ship around 120-feet or so in overall length which has angled bows and stern so that the wetted surface area of the hull is 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 square feet.
Water pressure is the force in pounds per square inch on an area of 1 square foot caused by water with a mass density of 62.4 lbs per cubic foot divided by the acceleration of gravity, 32.2 feet per second and thus, ½ (62.4 ÷ 32.2) = 0.97. Assume needing to achieve 4 miles per hour, 5.87 feet per second and the sum now takes that rate of 5.87 feet per second and squares it i.e. 5.87 x 5.87 = 34.4569 which one multiplies by the previous result 0.97 x 34.4569 = 33.423193 which answer is now in lbs per square foot. The wetted surface area, 3,048 square feet, is now multiplied by the previous answer, 33.4 lbs per square foot 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 916 lbs being the drag of the ship. Paddle wheels are essentially ‘reversed’ under-shot mill wheels, they have only half the power capability of over-shot wheels, those where the water pushes the wheel down. Having only half the power, the next calculation simply doubles the necessary wheel speed from 4 to 8 miles per hour, 704-feet per minute ! The necessary paddle power is thus the ship’s drag, 916 lbs, times the speed, 704-feet per minute, divided by the ‘standard’ 33,000 lb ‘horse-power’ factor which gives an answer of 19.5 horse-power necessary to drive the paddlewheels. Beaufoy’s primitive tables are again used to calculate the size of the paddles. It takes, according to Beaufoy, 51.95 lbs of thrust to move a 1-foot square plate against water pressure. The total paddle area needed here to thrust the 41
ship’s 916 lbs ‘drag’ is thus 916 lbs divided by Beaufoy’s factor of 51.95 lbs = 17.63 square feet, the area for each paddle float. Paddle-wheels, like car wheels, run the full distance over the ground and given the area of the paddle-floats, here about 18 square feet, or about 6-feet long by about 3-feet wide, these would attach quite comfortably to a 14-foot diameter paddle wheel, giving each revolution, 3.14 times 14-feet diameter, equalling 44-feet of circumference. At 16 revolutions per minute, 704-feet per minute and thus 8 miles in every hour. So, in theory, a 120-foot ship could be powered by a 20 horsepower engine and make at least 4 miles per hour with 14-foot diameter paddle-wheels. There were significant losses in transferring cylinder power to the paddle wheels and engines were necessarily over-powered to compensate. Thus to a simple formula (H)orse (P)ower = P x L x A x N 33,000 P = Pressure ( in pounds per square inch) which equals atmospheric pressure minus partial vacuum L = Length of piston stroke (this is the total length down and up again) A = Piston Head Area measured in square inches i.e. (3.14 times diameter times diameter) divided by 4 N = Number of piston strokes per minute The formula is generally applied to steam engines with a working pressure of up to 7 lbs/square inches above atmosphere and as pressures increased this Nominal Horse Power (NHP) formula became more diverse, Lloyd’s Register of Ships’ and The Admiralty working with different formulae, The Admiralty NHP figure giving about 1/6th of the Indicated
Horse Power (IHP) and Lloyd’s almost unrelated to IHP, it taking no account of steam pressure or engine revolutions. The end of NHP as an effective measure was brought about by the introduction of the steam turbine and then the internal combustion engine. There are five different types of ‘horse power’ - Effective Horse Power (EHP) is that required to tow a bare hull, one without propellors, propellor shaft brackets or rudder(s), through the water. Indicated Horse Power (IHP), taken from a diagram, the ‘indicator’ being screwed into a working engine cylinder and recording the changing pressure/vacuum and the results drawn by an inked pointer on to a paper card, is therefore the power developed within the cylinder of a steam reciprocating engine. Shaft Horse Power (SHP) is the power transmitted by the propellor or drive shaft after deducting frictional losses in the engine, thrust block and shaft bearings and in marine turbines is the only method by which power can be measured, a calibrated torsion meter being attached to the propellor shaft(s). In steam reciprocating engines, the SHP is about 85% of IHP. Brake Horse Power (BHP) is the power delivered from internal combustion engines at the crank shaft output coupling and, while closely approximating SHP, may be likened to IHP less friction and other estimated power taken off by auxiliaries. Delivered Horse Power (DHP) is the power actually delivered to the propellor shaft(s) after deduction of all losses and is about 98% of SHP. DHP is used in the calculation of propellor design. While Continental HP is equivalent to 75 kpm/s (kilopond metres per second) = 0.7355 KW, British HP = 0.746 KW. For anyone interested in the criteria for propellors, especially for tugs and fishing boats, a useful text is Caldwell’s “Screw 42
Tug Design”. Propellor design is based on an estimate of the required diameter, pitch, the necessary number of blades and their areas. From this information and an estimate of the required DHP, the thrust and torque for the propellor can be calculated and the bollard pull found, usually around 97% of this thrust figure. The basic parts of a steam engine are thus - the fuel system, the water-feed system, the boiler and condenser, the cylinders or turbine and the coupled shafts - to the paddle-wheels or propellor(s). Although a successful six-month oil fuel trial had been carried out in the summer of 1893 on the three-year old “Caledonia” and MacBrayne’s had converted the then three-funnelled “Saint Columba” to oil-firing in 1937, it was only in the 1950’s that the remaining steamers changed over from coal to oil fuel, no doubt to the great relief of all who laboured in the stoke-holds of the steamers. Both the ex-River Dart paddle steamer “Kingswear Castle”, operating on the Medway and the ex-Admiralty ‘puffer’ “VIC 32”, based on the Crinan Canal, are coal-fired and offer opportunities for enthusiasts to ‘try their own hand’ at stoking their boilers. Puffer, Ahoy ! man’s invention ! The supreme marine achievement of
Amongst the host of small cargo-carrying Clyde sailing craft were the gabbarts, some schooners but most ketches of about 50 registered tons, 60-feet long, 15 to 17-feet in beam and about 7 to 9-feet in depth. Their shallow draft, flat-bottomed hulls, suitable for grounding on beaches where they could discharge their cargoes, were full-bodied with a good sheer, had generally rounded, though some were square, short counter sterns 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 main and topsails, jib and staysail. More than fifty years had passed since the “Charlotte Dundas” had shown the viability of steam-power on the canal, a technical success which was not then followed through by the canal proprietors who feared the effect of the steamer’s wash on the canal banks. Now, in 1856, James Milne, the canal engineer, fitted a twin cylinder, 10” stroke and 6½” bore, atmospheric engine, powered by a 3’ diameter boiler working at 35 lbs pressure, into the “Thomas”, a ‘standard’ canal barge at a cost of £320. With a four-foot pitch ‘screw’ and the engine turning at 130 revolutions per minute, the “Thomas”, capable of carrying some 70 or 80 tons of cargo, was able to do some 5 mph and ‘the puffer’ was born, her atmospheric engine ‘puffing’ merrily along exhausting steam directly into the atmosphere and sky ! Stoking The Fires While cold boilers must be warmed through very slowly to avoid damage to the plates and joints, that taking anything from 24 to 48 hours, an already warm boiler, its fire banked, the ashpan and funnel dampers closed overnight, can quickly raise steam to working pressure in a couple of hours or so if necessary. In the case of these small steamers and the like of the old steam fishing drifters, the general practice was to rake one half of the grate clear of any clinker and, halving spread the remaining glowing coals evenly out again, cover these with half-a-dozen shovels of fresh coal. Five minutes later and the fresh coals now lit, these would all be raked down evenly and, after another ten or so minutes, with the fire now burning clearly, the process repeated on the other half of the fire-grate, the idea being that the smoke and gases from the freshly shovelled coal would be burnt by the fierce and clear 43
fire on the other half of the grate and the amount of black smoke coming from the funnel would be minimised. By this procedure, twelve shovels would be added to the fire every 30 minutes or so and, in the course of an average summer day’s ‘dawn-to-dusk’ run, the boiler fire would consume about ¾ ton of coal, boiler’s ash-pan being emptied, thanks to the slow build up of steam coal ash, perhaps every other day and all the while, in between stokings, the engineer too would be constantly, lubricating the constantly turning machinery of the main engine, running about 138 r.p.m. on a puffer at about 6 knots and too lubricating all the auxiliary equipment ! The Basic Arrangement of the Fuel Burning System As the temperature of heavy ‘boiler’ oil must be raised before it will ignite, other means are used to start raising steam from cold. Though in the old days a small coal fire would have been lit to start the boiler - coke, instead of coal, being used if the boiler was still warm from the previous day, nowadays, a gravity fed supply of ‘light’ diesel oil will be led to start the boiler fire(s) - lit of course by applying an ordinary household match to an oil-soaked rag. As steam temperatures and pressures rose, steam was run into the heating coils in the oil fuel bunker storage tanks to allow the cold fuel oil to be pumped, through a suction filter to remove grit and heavy impurities, to a fuel heater, externally heated by steam, which raised the temperature of the fuel oil to some 20° or 30° lower than its ‘flash point’ i.e. its ignition point (about 190° F) and the fuel oil, after possibly being passed through the fuel heater several times to raise its temperature sufficiently, then being pumped, at somewhere between 100-150 p.s.i. (pounds per square inch), to the boiler’s oil burners, the number of burners varied according to the size and type of boiler and the burners, about 18 inches long and 1½ inches in diameter, are quickly changed, from diesel to boiler oil, using a vice-grip and spanner.
The steam heating the bunker heating coils and the fuel heater passed through a windowed inspection tank which allowed a visual inspection to ensure that no fuel oil had entered the water system (and consequently the steam itself) that might be fed to the main boiler, the now rapidly condensing ‘heating steam’ then returned to the main water feed system. The Water Feed System - circulates and tops up the water supplies to the main boiler(s) and water feed heaters, these operating in the same fashion as the oil fuel heater (above) and raising the temperature of the water before it reaches the boiler(s) ! Previously heated water reduces internal stresses on the boiler(s), gives easier steaming and reduces fuel consumption and thus water might enter the water feed heaters at between 140° and 150° F and leave, on its road to the boiler at 200° F. The Boiler - The greater the contact that the water has with the heat from a fire, the faster the water will evaporate to make steam and, for that very reason, many tubes run through, often several times through, boilers and chambers before the steam eventually reaches the engine(s). The Condenser - takes all the surplus and previously used steam from the main and auxiliary engines, the steam then being passed many times over the condenser tubes, these salt water filled and supplied constantly with sea water by means of a circulating pump. The condensed steam, now again water and any air and vapour removed from the condenser by an air pump which discharges to the outside atmosphere, is in turn filtered and fed to the hotwell - an intermediary point in the water feed system which, as previously described, again begins to heat the water in the water feed heaters. Of the various water temperatures, given the boiler at say 212° F, then the return to the condenser at about 126° F, the air pump then further reducing the water 44
temperature to between perhaps 90° and 110° F and the hotwell then raising the water temperature to perhaps some 150° F before returning the water to the water feed heaters to be heated up again for the boiler(s) etc. again at around 200° F. While steam acts against all sides of cylinders equally, both temperature and pressure drop. A drop in temperature means, essentially, that ‘work’ is lost. By dividing the temperature drop between a number of cylinders, condensation losses are proportionately decreased, cylinder cooling is minimised and the advantages of pressures are maximised. Understanding that 1 p.s.i. (pound per square inch) equals about 2” (inches) of vacuum and that barometric pressure at sea level is about 30” (inches) may make it easier to follow the workings of the engine as the engine gauge readings indicate pressures relative to the prevailing ‘atmospheric’ pressures ! If there was no vacuum e.g. if the barometric pressure was 30” (inches) and the vacuum gauge was reading 15 p.s.i., it being remembered that 1 p.s.i. equals about 2” (inches) of vacuum, the engine would of course slow down as the engine is essentially an ‘atmospheric engine’ and consequently the vacuum gauge should always read lower than the ‘outside’ barometric pressure if the engine is expected to work ! And so to The Engine(s) - The likely sequence of events in the case of a triple expansion engine, given that the boiler is supplying steam to the throttle at say 180 p.s.i. (pound per square inch), would be that the high pressure cylinder (usually the middle cylinder of the engine) would receive at a slightly reduced pressure, perhaps about 170 p.s.i., the exhausted steam from the high pressure cylinder being fed to the medium pressure cylinder, at perhaps between 58 and 60 p.s.i. and, in turn, this
exhausted steam being fed to the low pressure cylinder at about 1 or 2 p.s.i. and the steam then returned to the condenser (and, in turn, as hot water) to the water feed system etc. etc.. Pressure relief valves and drains are fitted on the ends of the cylinders, the drains being opened and shut from the engine control platform. While the high pressure steam from the drain on the high pressure cylinder would, eventually, damage the tubes of the condenser, the high pressure steam is led away to the bilges, the drains from the medium and low pressure cylinders return direct to the condenser. Though the drains might be used when slowly warming through the engine before sailing, the drains would only be opened in the most exceptional circumstances when the engine was running. The Engine Controls - consist simply of 6 levers set in a frame, the ‘valve settings’ for going ‘Ahead’ or ‘Astern’ are controlled by the ‘Direction Lever’, centred at ‘Stop’ and being pushed forward for ‘Ahead’ or pulled back for ‘Astern’, set to the engineer’s left hand. Though it seems needless to state that the ‘Regulating Throttle’ (below) should be shut before the position of the ‘Direction Lever’ is changed, one of the ‘engineers’ on Loch Lomond’s “Maid of The Loch” regularly ignored ‘the obvious’ and his handling of her engine (and indeed her boiler) caused great expense to the company. In 1816, when James Watt made his final trip home to Scotland, he had taken a trip to Rothesay on the “Dumbarton Castle” and, in a conversation with the ship’s engineer and was told that on the previous evening the ship had run aground on the river-bank while going up-river home. Fortunately, as the tide flooded, the pressure of the current 45
on the paddle-floats had caused the engine to reverse and the ship came off the river-bank. Watt instantly grasped what had happened and, unable to make the ship’s engineer understand the theory of what had happened, Watt threw off his coat and putting his hand to the engine’s controls showed the engineer how to make the ship go astern and thus, the first intentional reversing of a marine engine occurred at Rothesay Pier ! Watt’s discovery was momentous and from then on ships were able to come alongside piers with ‘precision and promptitude’ ! Next and to the right of the ‘Direction Lever’ , lie the three ‘Drain Levers’, from left-to-right, for ‘Low’ - ‘High’ and ‘Medium’ pressure cylinders, the drains being ‘shut’ with the lever(s) pushed forward and ‘open’ with the lever(s) pulled back. The engine’s ‘Regulating Throttle’ is the outer lever, set to the engineer’s right hand, the lever being ‘notched’ forwards to admit steam from the boiler to the engine, the narrower-spaced ‘notches’ being for ‘manoeuvring’ alongside piers at low speeds and the wider-spaced ‘notches’ coming into use as the speed of the engine is increased once clear of the piers. In the old, particularly single-cylinder single-cranked, paddle steamers, if the crank was ‘centred’, it had to be manually ‘jacked over’ using a large crow-bar to get the engine started, a great handicap when manoeuvring at piers ! On ‘modern’ paddle steamers, e.g. in the case of a three crank triple expansion ship such as the “Waverley”, a ‘Starting Steam Lever’ is fitted immediately to the left of the ‘Regulating Throttle’. This is operated briefly if the (centre) high pressure cylinder crank is ‘centred’ (lying) above or below the main crankshaft connecting the engine to the paddle wheels. 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 other at 120° angles, the high pressure cylinder crank is therefore ‘jacked over’ and the engine started. Where there is constant manoeuvring at piers, the engine’s expansion gear keeps the engine’s valve stroke travel equal to the throw of the eccentrics on the main shaft and, e.g. on ‘slow cruises’, the expansion gear can be ‘linked in’ so that total engine power is reduced, engine revolutions decreased and fuel consumption lowered. The engine’s high pressure expansion gear is frequently ‘linked in’ on coastal passages. Conversely, by ‘linking out’ the expansion gear, the engine’s valve stroke travel becomes greater and total power and engine revolutions are increased, as are speed and fuel consumption ! The Main Steam and Engine Gauges are set in front of the engineer and unfortunately, as in the case of the “Waverley”, out of the direct view of passengers. The typical array of gauges (and their typical Working Readings), from left-to-right, are for ‘Auxiliary Steam’, ranging from 0 - 350 p.s.i. (180 p.s.i.); ‘Auxiliary Exhaust’, ranging from 0 - 50 p.s.i. (10 p.s.i.); ‘Main Steam’, ranging from 0 - 350 p.s.i. (180 p.s.i.); ‘Low Pressure Cylinder’, ranging from 0 - 50 p.s.i. (1 p.s.i.); ‘High Pressure Cylinder’, ranging from 0 - 350 p.s.i. (170 p.s.i.); ‘Medium Pressure Cylinder’, ranging from 0 - 150 p.s.i. (60 p.s.i.) and ‘Vacuum’, there being gauges for both main and auxiliary steam and both gauges these ranging from 0 - 30 p.s.i. and both, for the reasons set out before, likely to read 46
about 25 p.s.i.. Finally and vitally to The Engine Room Telegraph(s) their ‘face-plate’ orders being marked sequentially “Full Astern” - “Half Astern” - “Slow Astern” - “Dead Slow Astern” “Finished With Engines” - “STOP” - “Stand By” - “Dead Slow Ahead” - “Slow Ahead” - “Half Ahead” and “Full Ahead”. The first ‘telegraphs’ were fitted to the 1864-built “Iona (III)” in 1873, that year she too becoming the first Clyde steamer to be fitted with steam steering gear. Denny’s first iron-built steamer, the 1845-built “Loch Lomond”, had been fitted with a ‘knocking contrivance’, a rack-pin system fitted below the bridge to the engine room hatch, which put an end to the practice of shouting orders to the engineers. Ship Handling Principles Because of their ‘fixed’ paddle-wheels, only being able to go ‘forward-or- backwards’, paddle steamers have to put their helm over and swing their bow slightly out as they come alongside piers. As the bow of the ship comes across the end of a pier, the heaving line for the bow rope is thrown to the waiting piermen and then, as the ship’s bow begins to swing out, it following that the after part of the ship and the stern are then being brought ever closer to the pier, the heaving lines for the stern, then ‘waist’, ropes can then be more easily caught by the piermen. For manoeuvring purposes, it is perhaps useful to think of all twin and indeed triple screw ships as single-screw ships until their engines are all driving in the same direction and the following little bit of theory should therefore be of interest to anyone ignorant of the general principles of steering and controlling screw driven vessels, pleasure steamers and motorboats alike. The first effect of ‘putting the helm over’, trying to change direction, when the ship or boat is going ahead, is that the
bow actually goes off in the opposite direction to that in 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. By this time, the ship’s bow will have turned about three ‘points’, about 30 degrees, towards the new course, the stern of the ship continuing to drag round for a further two or three ship lengths along the original course before it finally follows the ship’s bow. In theory, if a danger ‘dead ahead’ has to be avoided, one must alter course at least some six ship lengths before it in order that it is cleared. Two ships on potentially colliding courses must alter their courses ‘timeously’ indeed and, although one may gain a few extra seconds by easing down the ships’ speeds before any potential collision (and of course somewhat lessening the force of any impact), it should be clearly understood that the speed at which the ship is travelling, when her course is changed, does not greatly affect the distance along her original course which she will take before actually turning off on to her new course and clearing her original course ! High speed e.g. in a small motor yacht may be helpful but her hull will still slide along her original course, as above and ‘over-steering’ may actually even force her further into danger till she clears her old course. The effect of the ship’s propellor(s) is as important as the effect of her rudder(s). Apart from MacBrayne’s first ever twin-screw steamer, the 1878-built “Flowerdale”, which very unusually had inward-turning propellors, all the other Clyde and West Highland twin-screw ships had their propellors outward-turning when going ahead, the starboard engine turning right and the port engine turning left when going ahead. The converse happening in the case of a left-turning port engine, the following explanation of the right-turning 47
starboard engine may be of interest. It has the effect that, the engine going astern from rest, the ship’s stern will go immediately to port even with a full starboard rudder on and the ship will only begin to go to starboard as she gathers way, given a full port rudder, from rest and going astern, the ship’s stern will be thrown rapidly port. There is a widespread ignorance of the effect on a ship’s steering when her engine(s) are suddenly reversed while the ship is going ahead and the assumption that the ship will continue to answer her helm in the usual way as she continues to forge ahead, her propellor(s) in reverse and gradually slowing her down, is indeed not the case as new forces affect the rudder and the afterbody of the ship from the very moment when her engine(s) is/are reversed. Following the case of right-turning (ahead) starboard engine, the ship’s rudder kept ‘amidships’ and the starboard engine suddenly reversed, from full ahead to full astern, the ship’s head will fall off immediately to starboard and the ship will gain ground and begin to slide ‘to the right’. If the helm of a ship is put hard over to port as her starboard engine is suddenly reversed, from full ahead to full astern, the ship’s head will usually, but not very rapidly nor very far, go to port but will then begin to swing to starboard and the ship’s head, her rudder still ‘hard-a-port’, will fall off more or less to starboard. But, if the helm of a ship is put hard over to starboard as her starboard engine is suddenly reversed, from full ahead to full astern, the ship’s head will go to starboard and then, more often than not, will swing to port ! The slower the ship or boat is going ahead and the faster the propellor is going astern, the more likely it is that her head will swing to port ! In the case of the ship going astern, her starboard, rightturning, engine going ahead and her helm ‘amidships’, the ship’s stern should move to starboard but there is no 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 will be found that her stern will go very decidedly to port. With her helm ‘hard-a-port’, her stern, most commonly, would be likely to go to starboard. A ship or boat has a right-handed (ahead) propellor can always turn easily and rapidly to starboard in a confined space, turning to port taking more space and time. In coming alongside a pier (or another ship), it is indeed bad seamanship to make the mistake of keeping too much speed 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 engineers) may fail to act promptly and the suddeness of going astern throws an undue strain on the machinery (especially the crankshafts) and the ship’s rudder fastenings and the sudden going astern throws the ship suddenly to one side or another according to the ‘handedness’ of the propellor(s). In a tideway too, particular care must be taken not to catch the tide on the ‘off’ bow as it may actually push the bow into and under the pier or against the other ship. Changes in water density can catch the unwary and the “Maid of Cumbrae” crashed expensively into Gourock Pier because of a hidden fresh water outfall between the regular pier berths. 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 ‘Maid’ being able to spin the wheel from ‘hard-a-port’ to ‘hard-a-starboard’ without there being any effect on the direction of the ship’s heading till we re-entered near 100% salt water again. 48 On the paddle steamers, orders were transmitted to the ‘waist ropemen’, located at main deck level on the after end of the paddle-wheel sponsons, by means of a series of bell signals operated from the ‘Docking Telegraphs’ on the bridge wings - 1 bell, “Throw Line”, the heaving-line itself normally being usually thrown after the stern heaving line and both being thrown by a seaman immediately above the waist ropeman from the upper deck of the sponson; 2 bells, “Make Fast”; 3 bells, “Slack Away” and 4 bells, “Let Go”, all these signals too being audible to the engineer on the near-by engine control platform. The ship’s fore and aft ‘Docking Telegraphs’, these operated from the bridge wings, also had ‘answering handles’ ringing back acknowledgements from bow and stern, their ‘face plates’ sequentially reading, from ‘port-tostarboard’, “Make Fast”, “Come On Deck”, “Haul In”, “Throw Line”, “Hold On”, “ALL CLEAR”, “Stand By”, “Slack Away”, Look Out for Fender”, “Slow” and “Let Go”. The first ‘Docking Telegraphs’, simply an adaptation of the engine-telegraphs, were installed on the 1889 “Caledonia (I)”, she built by John Reid, grand-nephew of the builder of the first “Comet (I)”, at Port Glasgow and the complementary ‘bell-system’ to the paddle steamer ‘waist ropemen’ on the sponsons was essentially just a variation on the old ‘knocker’ system used before the introduction of the engine-room telegraphs.
Bow Rudders In the cases of the “Duchess of Hamilton”, “Queen Mary/II” and the paddle steamer “Jeanie Deans”, she too being fitted with a bow rudder after taking up her somewhat
short-lived service on The Thames as the “Queen of The South”, the forward bow ‘Docking Telegraph’ was used to give orders to the helmsman steering the ship astern from the bow, their vision aft being totally obscured by the ships’ superstructures and funnels. On these occasions, with two black balls hung vertically from the cross-trees on one of the ships’ masts, the orders on the aft-facing ‘face-plate’ forward ‘Docking Telegraph’ translated “ALL CLEAR” as “Midships”; “Make Fast”, on the port side of the telegraph, as “Hard-a-Starboard’ and, conversely “Let Go”, on the starboard side of the telegraph as “Hard-a-Port”, each division of the telegraph ‘face-plate’ corresponding to the application of about 15° of rudder. Turbines, Twin-Screws and Telegraphs While the paddle steamers were all fitted with ‘doublehandled’ Engine Room Telegraphs, the handles locked and thus moving simultaneously on command and there being no ‘answering handles’ for the engineers to acknowledge or confirm orders from and to the bridge, the turbines and motor-ships were all fitted with ‘answering telegraphs’ rung back by the engineers as the bridge orders were implemented. For manoeuvring purposes, the turbines, even with three propellor shafts, were treated as twin-screw ships - the first ‘twin-screw’ ship was built by Captain John Stevens of Phoenix, Arizona around 1804 - 1806. On the ‘triple-screw’ turbines, the centre ‘ahead-only’ turbine and propellor shaft being shut down by means of the main stop valve wheel and the outer ‘ahead’ and ‘stern’ turbines then opened and shut down as necessary by their own individual stop valves and, the ship clearing away from the piers, the main stop valve wheel was opened to the centre, high-pressure ‘ahead’ turbine, it too then admitting steam to the two outer shaft ‘ahead’ turbines. While MacBrayne’s ships operated the deep-sea practice of giving a double “Full Ahead” ring on the 49
telegraphs once clear of piers, this was not done on the Clyde ships, mainly because of the frequently short time intervals between pier calls. Paddle Wheels, ‘Floats’ and Shafts In the early years of the first steamers, these frequently racing each other to beat their rivals to the next pier and often manned by incompetent engineers and masters, there were often problems with the steel paddle main shafts cracking and fracturing, the initial steel strength deteriorating quickly through crystallisation brought about by the shafts’ vibrations and not helped by the persuasion of many engineers to suddenly try and put the engines astern without waiting for the engine (and the paddle wheels) to properly stop their ahead movement. Of paddle wheels themselves, the ‘floats’ fitted to the early and sea-going steamers, such as those crossing The Atlantic, were ‘fixed’ and then, in 1829, one Elijah Galloway invented the ‘feathering’ paddle-floats, these ‘moveable floats’, pivoting on bearings on the radial arms and actuated by rods fixed to bearings on the outside of the paddle wheel to allow each float to enter the water at an acute angle and immerse properly in the water as the wheel turned, an arrangement which not only increased speed but also reduced the ship’s wash which could damage shorelines and river banks. While most shipowners, thinking it better for ‘shock distribution’, opted for eight ‘floats’ on each paddle wheel, the Gourockbased Caledonian Steam Packet Company ships generally had but seven ‘floats’ per wheel, the ‘floats’ being often of elm, rather than steel as, should they hit any floating objects, they could break up (and be quickly replaced) without causing any structural damage to the paddle wheels. The Clyde and other British coastal paddle steamers’ paddle wheels were relatively small in comparison to the size of those favoured for American side and stern-wheelers. Though being run on trial at nearly 59 revolutions per minute, today’s “Waverley (IV)” rarely needs to exceed 44
r.p.m. to keep or catch up on her timetabled sailings, by comparison, some of Russia’s river paddle ships, having even smaller paddle wheels, operate at 160 r.p.m. ! Steam Whistles Arriving and departing from busy piers often necessitated using the ship’s ‘whistle’ - 1 blast, going to starboard (right); 2 blasts, going to port (left) and 3 blasts indicating that the ship was going astern. The first ever recorded ship’s steam whistle is noted to have been fitted in 1837 to the “King Philip” operating on the Fall River in America. The Turbine Steamers The theory of turbines is, like Archimedes’ screw, ancient but the practical harnessing of the idea is due to the Swedish-born Gustaf de Laval (1845-1913) and to Charles Algernon Parsons (1854-1931), a member of the Rosse family of astronomical telescope fame from Parsonstown (now Birr) in Ireland. In 1881, after his time serving a ‘premium apprenticeship’ at Armstrong’s of Elswick on Tyneside, Charles Parsons joined Kitson & Company of Leeds, builders of railway locomotives for many overseas companies. There he invented and developed the ‘epicycloidal’ steam engine and also experimented with ‘rocket-propelled’ torpedoes. In 1884, he joined Clarke, Chapman at Gateshead as a junior partner and took charge of their electrical department. His first problem was to design a steam driven ship’s lighting set where the optimum dynamo speed was much in excess of the top speed attainable by a steam reciprocating engine and his steam turbo-generator, with an output of 7.5kW was soon followed by larger and more powerful machines. From this came Parsons’ 1884 patent giving birth to the steam turbine. In 1889, Parsons severed his connections with Clarke, Chapman and set up The Parsons Steam Turbine Company and, because his earlier patents were in the name 50
of Clarke, Chapman, he was forced to design a completely new turbine system using ‘radial flow’ turbines. The first of his new generators had an output of 350kW and soon he was producing turbo-generators with up to 200,000kW outputs for power stations. Despite his interest in producing steam-powered electrical generators - the very first was installed in The Caledonian Steam Packet Company’s 1890-built “Duchess of Hamilton” - Parsons decided to develop his steam turbine design further, as a marine propulsion unit. Gustaf de Laval, the Swedish engineer whose first turbine patent had been granted in 1883, a year before Parsons own patent, had also secured a patent for ‘double helical reduction gears’ in 1889 and three years later, in 1892, he constructed reversing turbine developing some 15 h.p. and running at some 16,000 rpm, to this day a most remarkable speed. Using his own reduction gears to drive a propellor at around 330 rpm, Laval put a small launch on to the waters of Lake Mäleren in Sweden, this the first marine application of the steam turbine. Two years later, in 1894, Parsons, backed by a group of speculative investors launched the 100-foot long, 2,000 s.h.p. 34-knot “Turbinia”, her 9-foot beam being little more that that of an English canal narrow-boat. Today she is preserved and on view to all at Newcastle’s Science Museum. “Turbinia” ran her first set of trials in late 1894 but the results were disappointing, the high speed of the main propellor creating a vacuum behind its blades causing a considerable loss of power, this effect referred to as ‘cavitation’. To measure the torque on the shaft, created by the turbine, Parsons designed the instrument we know today as the ‘torsion meter’ and, thanks to this, he was then able to make great improvements to the design of high-speed propellors.
Much to the annoyance of The Admiralty - and to the delight of many onlookers - the little “Turbinia” easily outpaced and ran rings round the Navy ships sent to chase her as she ran through the lines of ships at the 1897 Fleet Review at Spithead and, as a consequence of such a very public demonstration of the potential of turbine propulsion, The Admiralty ordered the turbine driven destroyer “Viper” and then too took over another, being built “on spec”, which they named “Cobra”. Both were over-lightly built ships and both came to grief. On August 3, 1901, the “Viper” ran aground on Renonquet Reef, in The Channel Islands and was declared a total loss. Six weeks later, on September 17, 1901, the “Cobra” was seen to break in two in heavy seas off Flamborough Head, never again would Navy ships be named after snakes ! Denny’s of Dumbarton, who too had built the famous “Cutty Sark”, were enthusiastic about developing the turbines for merchant ships as were Parsons and together they approached the various railway companies looking for contracts but the railway companies “affected a terrible amount of modesty, each anxious that somebody else should make the first experiment” then along came John Williamson, in the background, The Glasgow & South Western Railway Company itself barred from operating the Campbeltown service but quite free to guarantee any loans that Williamson might need and so was born The Turbine Syndicate. The “King Edward” The members of The Turbine Syndicate - William Denny & Brothers, The Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company and Captain John Williamson - each contributed one-third of the £33,000 cost of the new “King Edward”, the first instalment when the hull was framed, beamed, bulkheads in place and had all internal work rivetted; the second, when launched and the third and final payment made on delivery. 51
Considering the very experimental nature of the new venture and not wanting to add further to its risks, Denny’s chose to adhere to a hull model similar to that of the successful 1890built paddle-steamer “Duchess of Hamilton” and it seems, that had the screw turbine experiment not been successful, the turbine machinery could have been removed and the hull then fitted with paddle machinery. The hull, costing £24,200, was 250.5-feet long, 30.1-feet in beam and, with a depth of 10-feet, had a draft of 6-feet. Parsons part of the work was estimated to cost £8,000 and a further £800 was to be provided to cover the other miscellaneous start-up costs of the venture, a total of £33,000 divided equally amongst the three parties. To fund his share of the venture, Captain John Williamson obtained a loan of £2,500 from The National Bank of Scotland, now The Royal Bank of Scotland and in turn, as noted in a Glasgow & South Western Railway Company minute of January 22, 1901, Williamson’s loan was guaranteed by the railway company on condition, one that too was included in The Turbine Syndicate’s own agreement, that the new ship was placed on the Fairlie - Campbeltown service. The new ship, Denny’s Yard No. 651, was launched by Mrs Charles Parsons on Thursday, May 16, 1901. For the machinery, Parson’s Engine No. 8, steam, at 150 lb per square inch, was supplied by a conventional double-ended boiler. The Navy ships “Viper” and “Cobra” had Yarrow’s water tube boilers but here, with no need for lightweight construction and such high running speeds, the need was for fuel economy which involved a wider range of steam expansions than in the two Navy ships. Whereas steam might be expanded between eight and sixteen times in a contemporary triple expansion engine, there were one hundred and twenty-five expansions in the 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 outer shafts. There the steam was expanded a further twenty-five times before being again exhausted, now into the condenser. The separate astern turbines (turbines cannot be reversed due to the curved formation of their blades) were fitted into the casings of the outer ‘wing’ turbines - Early turbine ships lacked any great power when going astern a deficiency remedied in later engine designs As no gearing was involved, the propellor shafts of the “King Edward”, like that of the little “Turbinia”, turned at extraordinarily high speeds and from the start it was appreciated that the propellor surface area and the high peripheral speed of the propellor tips would cause cavitational problems. The centre high-pressure shaft could, in theory, turn at up to 700 rpm and the two outer lowpressure shafts at up to 1,000 rpm and the outer shafts fitted with an extra propellor thus making her effectively a ‘fivescrew’ ship Her first steam trial took place on Friday, June 14, 1901 and on the following Monday she reached a mean speed of 18.66 knots in calm weather on a return run over the measured mile at Skelmorlie before heading back up-river to Scott’s yard at Greenock where she was dry-docked for hull cleaning. A week later, on Monday, June 24, 1901, she ran a further series of seven double runs over the Skelmorlie measured mile, the best mean speed now 19.7 knots, still short of the expected 20 knots and so she was slipped the following day at Inglis’ Pointhouse yards to change propellors. Now the 4’ centre propellor was exchanged for one of 4’ 9” diameter, the two outer 2’ 10” propellors replaced by 3’ 4” propellors and on Wednesday, June 26, 1901, again on the Skelmorlie measured mile, on a smooth sea and in a light breeze, she reached a mean average of 20.48 knots with the centre shaft turning at 505 rpm and the outer shafts at 755 rpm, the 52
fastest run that day being 20.57 knots. Test tank calculations estimated her to have 3,500 i.h.p.. Over the following years, there were numerous changes of propellor configurations and extra endurance trials and a further 34 double runs were carried out over the Skelmorlie measured mile between June 1901 and April 1905, when at last, the extra propellors on the outer shafts were finally removed. Buried amongst a maze of steampipes on the lower deck, b e l o w the main deck, was the engineers’ control platform, virtually out-of-sight of passengers. When the main stop valve wheel was opened to the centre, high-pressure ‘ahead’ turbine, it too admitted steam to the two outer shaft ‘ahead’ turbines. When manoeuvring, the centre ‘ahead’ turbine was shut down by means of the main stop valve wheel and the outer ‘ahead’ and ‘stern’ turbines then opened and shut down as necessary by their own individual stop valves. The official trial trip of the “King Edward”, under the command of Captain Alex Fowler of The Glasgow & South Western Railway Company’s “Glen Sannox”, took place on Friday, June 28, 1901, just a fortnight after she had first raised steam. A party of guests too having been ferried out to her off Craigendoran, she called at Dunoon, Rothesay, Largs, Fairlie and then Lochranza where she found the “Duchess of Hamilton”, on charter to The Institute of Naval Architects, ready to race her down Kilbrannan Sound as she headed for Campbeltown. Needless to say, she had no difficulty in overtaking her. Three days later she began her first season to Campbeltown. With 50 crew and a capacity for 1,994 passengers, she left Greenock’s Prince’s Pier daily (except Sundays) at 8.40 a.m., she called at Dunoon and Rothesay before picking up 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 was timed to arrive in Campbeltown at 12.20 p.m.. Leaving Campbeltown again, at about 3 p.m., her passengers could, via Fairlie, be at St. Enoch’s Station in Glasgow at 6.18 p.m., a journey time little bettered a hundred years later by the private motor car ! 1901 too was the year of The Glasgow Exhibition and the “King Edward” was back at Greenock’s Prince’s Pier in time to do a two-hour ‘musical evening cruise’ with passengers leaving Glasgow St. Enoch at 6.05 p.m. and returning to Glasgow at 10.25 p.m. - the success of these evening cruises led to them becoming an annual feature of her sailing programme. At the end of September, the “King Edward” was laid up for the winter. During the 1901 season, the “King Edward”, under her chief engineer H. Hall, had averaged 19 knots on the 160mile daily return run to Campbeltown and her average daily coal consumption, working out at 1.8 lbs per equivalent indicated (i.h.p.) horse-power, had been about 18 tons per day. Chief Engineer Hall’s successor, a man called Stuart/Stewart (?) who had been with the “King Edward” since her building - he retired to Skelmorlie in the 1930’s, held that the average daily consumption was actually just 11 - 12 tons of coal for the Campbeltown run and only when ‘obliged to race other ships’ did she use 18 tons ! By way of direct comparison with the identically lengthed-hull paddler “Duchess of Hamilton” which consumed a ton of coal per 8.47 knots when travelling at 16 knots, the turbine-engined “King Edward” consumed a ton of coal per 8.87 knots when travelling at 18 knots. In any event, everybody was happy, Williamson cleared his overdraft, formed a new company, Turbine Steamers Ltd., bought the “King Edward” and now ordered a second turbine, the “Queen Alexandra (I)”.
When the new steamer appeared at the start of the 1902 season, the “King Edward” took up a new run sailing from Fairlie via the south and west of Bute to Ardrishaig where it became the custom for her German string band, held superior to other steamer bands, to land with the passengers and play through the village. Five steamers then were calling daily at Ardrishaig which itself had a splendid band of its own, that belonging to the Argyll and Bute Asylum, its members often being requested to play on evening cruises from the village. With the increased traffic at Ardrishaig too that month, there were rumours that an electric tramway was to be built between Ardrishaig and Crinan, rumours that proved unfounded. Later, the “King Edward” extended her run to Inveraray, the return trip still being through The Kyles of Bute - the Ardrishaig call was dropped in 1908. Much was made of the swiftness of the new “King Edward” but, in the first week of July 1902, the “Columba” overhauled her one morning between Innellan and Rothesay and would have got alongside Rothesay first but for the fact that she had to take the outside berth. In February 1915, “King Edward” was requisitioned by The Admiralty and spent the next four years, based variously at Southampton, Dover and Folkestone and carrying troops to and from The Channel Islands, Le Havre, Rouen, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Calais and Boulogne. Later, as she was returning to The Clyde after a spell of duty as an ambulance transport in the White Sea, based at Archangel, she was nearly wrecked in a ferocious storm. Reconditioned, she returned to the Campbeltown run in June 1920, now, from Greenock and calling at Gourock and Wemyss Bay as well as Fairlie and, with the exception of 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 53
river with her 1928, 1929 and 1930 sailing programmes giving her occasional excursion trips to Stranraer. During World War II, she was used as a passenger-troopship tender at The Tail of The Bank but again returned to peacetime duties in the spring of 1946. Eventually, on June 6, 1952, she was sold for scrapping and four days later, on Tuesday, June 10, 1952, was towed to The West of Scotland Ship- breaking Company’s yard at Troon, a tow to which the author was witness as he came home from primary school ! One of the turbines from the “King Edward” is now on show at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum. The “Queen Alexandra (I)” Twenty-feet longer than the “King Edward”, the new ship was launched by Miss Dorothy Leyland, her father a close associate Charles Parsons, on Tuesday, April 8, 1902, at Denny’s yard in Dumbarton, the new ship, Yard No. 670, cost £38,500. Like the “King Edward”, she too had five propellors and their configuration would be changed over the course of the next 3 years. On Monday, May 19, 1902, with a moderate sea and a 20knot wind, she made six runs on the Skelmorlie measured mile, achieving a best mean speed of 18.56 knots. Three days later, after dry-docking at Scott’s in Greenock for hull cleaning, she made twelve runs over the Skelmorlie mile, this time with a smooth sea and a light breeze. Now her best mean speed had risen to 21.63 knots and her fastest ever to be recorded run was 21.82 knots and this was done using the first set of propellors that had been made for the “King Edward” ! Between then and her final set of speed trials on May 5, 1904, there would be six different changes of propellors but none helped her get up to the record set back on May 22, 1902 ! 54
Late in May 1902, a party of guests boarded the new “Queen Alexandra (I)” for her first trip to Campbeltown, out through The Kyles of Bute and then down Kilbrannan Sound. The return trip to Greenock, via the east coast of Arran, took just three hours, a very creditable performance and on she opened her season on Saturday, May 31, 1902, with a special public excursion from Prince’s Pier and Gourock, between The Cumbraes and then up Loch Fyne. Two days later, on Monday, June 2, 1902, she took over the Campbeltown service from the “King Edward”. In appearance, the “Queen Alexandra (I)” was very similar to the “King Edward” but, the new ship had a continuous boat deck extending from the bridge to the top of the companionway to after saloon and thus had her lifeboats slightly further aft than those on the “King Edward” and, although she too would have her boat deck lengthened in the winter of 1905-06, the “King Edward” retained a complete break between her boat and navigating bridge throughout here career. One summer evening in 1906, the “Queen Alexandra (I)” was on charter to carry a party of John Brown’s shipyard employees on a non-landing cruise to Arran. So too, with a party from Singer’s Sewing Machine Company, was the threeyears older North British paddle steamer “Waverley (III)”, both ships’ courses converged at The Tail of The Bank and a race ensued, past The Cloch and Cumbrae Lighthouses, the old 13.666 nautical mile ‘standard’ ship’s speed trial course and on to the coast of Arran. The “Waverley (III)”, whose best trial speed had been 19.73 knots, passed The Fallen Rocks, at the north end of Arran, a full ship length ahead of the newer and ostensibly faster turbine “Queen Alexandra (I)” ! Sometime in the early morning of Sunday, September 10, 1911, as she lay at her coaling berth in Greenock’s Albert 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 replacement rather than effect repairs. Even before the fire, The Canadian Pacific Railway had been interested in the ship to operate their Vancouver - Nanaimo service. Now, re-named “Princess Patricia”, after the daughter of the Duke of Connaught who had just become Governor-General of Canada, the fully reconditioned ship left The Clyde under her own steam on Wednesday, January 17, 1912. After what her Chief Engineer Walter Anderson called ‘an awful voyage’ round Cape Horn - The Panama Canal not then open - the ship arrived in Victoria on March 18, 1912 forty-three days actual steaming from The Clyde. Walter Anderson stayed on with the ship and The C.P.R. Co. and he too oversaw the ship’s storm damage repaired and her conversion to burn oil before she began her new service from Vancouver to Nanaimo, a two-hour run, on Saturday, May 11, 1912. Her lack of space for automobile traffic led to her being replaced in 1928 by John Brown’s Clyde-built “Princess Elaine” and the “Pat”, as she had become known was relegated to excursion and relief work till 1932. In 1935, she became a floating boarding house during a waterfront strike in Vancouver and was finally scrapped at Victoria in 1937. Her ship’s bell was presented to the City of Nanaimo to mark her long association with the Vancouver ferry service.
surveys of possible routes for canals between the lochs and between Loch Gilp and Loch Crinan. According to Watt “the spring tides in East Tarbat flow 10’6”; in West Tarbat only 4’6”, or, in very extraordinary tides, some 2’ higher. “The tides in the West Loch are most irregular; sometimes neither ebb nor flow; at other times ebb and flow twice in a tide and the quantity of false ebb is about 1’. The mean height of tide in The Firth of Clyde is greater than that of West Tarbat.” Today, large ships are encouraged to use The North Channel’s system of separation lanes, outward bound ships taking the outside lane but for small vessels sailing round the long barrier of Kintyre has always been dangerous and time consuming. A fair tide could double a boat’s speed, a contrary tide might keep a boat stationary, making no headway, for 3 or 4 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 trying, sometimes treacherous for large and small craft alike. Inshore currents often run back in the opposite direction to the main tide’s own direction further adding to the confusions. Local knowledge matters. A small boat, only able to do 4 knots, can make the 36-mile trip from Red Bay to Gigha in only 6 hours provided she sets out at the start of the ebb tide and too provided she avoids the inshore eddies and currents. Here, for the simple reason that many modern almanacs, textbooks and even simple computer software programs are ‘dumbed down’ and omit any simple explanations of how tides operate, it may be useful to understand a little about our local waters around The Clyde, Kintyre and The North Channel.
Time for Tides
he facts that while the East Loch follows the usual pattern of having two tides in every 24-hours whilst the West Loch may have four or even five tides in the same time - or, in bad weather, seemingly have no tides at all, was noted by James Watt, in 1771, when he carried out 55
Being brought up in the north Ayrshire village of Skelmorlie, our house in sight of that occupied once by Lord Kelvin, who founded the harmonic method of predicting tides while watching the construction of Wemyss Bay Pier from his windows, my classmates and I were learned many of the simple principles here about tides in the village’s primary school, opened by Lord Kelvin on Tuesday, September 25, 1866. So, to a short lesson in primary science ! For anyone wanting a simple check on tides, high water at Full Moon and on the day after the astronomical date of the New Moon is around 12 noon, or midnight, at East Loch Tarbert and about 2 ½ hours later at the West Loch ! In another words, if a New Moon is predicted to fall to a Saturday, with its first crescent being visible the next evening, the Sunday, then high water will be about 12 o’clock on the Sunday, about 1 o’clock on the Monday and a 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 thus times return near exactly every 59 days. In general, “o’clock” can be read as either a.m. or p.m.. On the ‘Sunday’ following that when the first crescent of the new moon should have been visible, the time of high water would therefore be around 6 o’clock and on the ‘Sunday’ after that at around 12 o’clock again, this time the moon being full etc. etc.. The New Moon is highest in the sky, above the observer’s location, at noon and its first crescent can usually be seen in the western sky, after about 6 p.m. on the following evening - the moon’s crescent shapes appear reversed if one is in The Southern Hemisphere, south of The Equator. With the New Moon taken to fall on Day 0 (Day Zero), it follows that the first quarter will appear highest in the sky, above the observer’s position, on Day 7 about 6 p.m.; the Full Moon on Day 15, about midnight and the last quarter on 56
Day 22, about 6 a.m.. If the astronomical time of the Full Moon is after 2 a.m., then the actual Full Moon falls to the following night. Some time elapses between the time of the moon’s passage across the sky and the actual time of the tide that it actually occasions. On average, the tide occasioned will be about 1½ days after the time of the moon’s transit and, just to complicate matters further, in some parts of The World may be up to seven days later or even occur before the moon’s passage across the sky. The Clyde is an ideal place to watch the correspondences between the moon’s transits and high water times, new moons, full moons and their respective high waters all fall neatly to around 12 o’clock, noon and midnight. Other phases and high waters following as suggested in these principles here. Spring Tides, when tide heights are highest and tide streams strongest, occur about two or three days after both new and full moons. During the 1st and 3rd quarters of the moon, the interval between successive high waters is less than the usual average interval of 12 hours 25 minutes. This acceleration of tide times is known as priming. Conversely, Neap Tides, when tides heights are lowest and tide streams weakest, occur in the 2nd and 4th quarters of the moon phases. This time the intervals between successive high waters are slightly longer than average and this is caused by lagging, due to the sun’s effect, rather than an effect of the moon. Sea Level is measured from The Ordnance Survey Tidal Observatory at Newlyn, just south of Penzance. Tides radiate around nodal points, where there is neither any rise, nor any fall in the height of the water and, while there are three tidal nodes in the North Sea - off the
southern coast of Norway, off the Low Countries and at the southern end of The North Sea, midway between the southeast of England and The Continent, we have our very own tidal node at The Otter Rock, just south-west of Islay, near Port Ellen. Replaced by a reflective radar buoy in 1960, the unmanned Otter Rock Lightship maintained its station on the tide node from 1907 until yet again breaking its moorings on January 9, 1958 and eventually running ashore, its light still flashing continuously, just beside The Inn at Muasdale, on the west coast of Kintyre. The Coastguard, R.A.F. and Civil Aviation Authorities were quick to demand immediate action and the light switched off as it was now angled skywards. The light tower itself was removed before the end of February and the hull of the lightship dismantled in the early winter of 1958 by a Dunoon scrap-merchant, a man called Johnstone or Johnson, who found the wreck very conveniently adjacent to the local hostelry, where he set up a tent encampnent right next door. Thus to the general pattern of tides radiating from the tide node of The Otter Rock, flowing in through The North Channel, into The Irish Sea and the Clyde and flowing up the west of Kintyre. The pattern is easiest demonstrated by following the times of High Waters on the day of the first crescent of the New Moon and the day of the Full Moon as listed here - the times may be read as a.m. or p.m.. Portrush 6.08, Ballycastle 6.25, Red Bay 10.31, Mull of Kintyre and Belfast at 10.35, Liverpool 11.17, Dover 11.24, Dublin 11.32, Stranraer 11.43, then Campbeltown 11.45, Burnt Island in The Kyles of Bute 11.50, Rothesay 11.57, Ardrishaig and Inveraray 12 o’clock, Port Glasgow 12.09, Greenock 12.17 and Glasgow 12.49. 57
London Bridge 1.58, Gigha Sound and Sound of Jura 2.22, West Loch Tarbert, Kintyre 2.30, then Crinan 4.49 and Port Ellen 5.00. And, for the curious, High Water at Rockall, way out in The Atlantic, occurs about 3.30 ! The difference in the time of high waters at any two locations founds the time constant e.g. high water at Campbeltown is 21 minutes later than at Dover and using a Dover Tide Table one simply adds 21 minutes to Dover times to find the corresponding high water times at Campbeltown. A most useful - and very cheap - reference is Old Moore’s Almanack. It gives High Water times for London Bridge and, for general purposes, one need only subtract 2 hours for high water in the Clyde or add 20 minutes to find high water times off Gigha. At Dover High Water, the tidal streams from Mull and Colonsay set into The Firth of Lorne; on the west side Islay, they are N’ly; between Islay and The Mull of Kintyre, they set through the Sound of Jura; in Kilbrannon Sound and The Firth of Clyde, N’ly; south of the Mull of Kintyre and Islay, W’ly. On the northern Irish coast, the stream is W’ly with an outset from Lough Foyle and an onshore set in the area north of Malin Head. An hour after Dover High Water, the tidal streams in The Clyde and Kilbrannon Sound turn S’ly and at The Mull of Kintyre they turn W’ly. The stream is too W’ly on the north Irish coast. 2 hours after Dover High Water the set from The Mull of Kintyre to Canna and Kylerhea becomes N’ly and inside The Mulll of Kintyre they become S’ly. The stream is too W’ly on the north Irish coast. 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 The Mull of Kintyre, the stream sets S’ly. The stream on the north Irish coast is E’ly from Tory Island to Sheephaven and W’ly from Lough Swilly to the eastward. 4 hours after Dover High Water, from Benbecula to The Mull of Kintyre, the stream continues to set N’ly, except again at Tobermory, where it continues to set out. East of The Mull of Kintyre, the stream continues to set S’ly. On the north Irish coast, from Sheephaven to the west, the stream is E’ly and from Lough Swilly to the eastward is W’ly. 5 hours after Dover High Water, the tide stream sets N’ly from The Shiant Isles to Kintyre but is now S’ly in The Clyde, 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. 6 hours after Dover High Water, the stream from Cape Wrath to Coll and Tiree is N’ly but south of Coll and Tiree is S’ly and at The Mull of Kintyre it now turns E’ly as too is the stream on the north Irish coast. It is now about Dover Low Water. 5 hours before Dover High Water, there is an area of slack water off Coll and Tiree from which streams set both north and south with the south bound stream setting through The North Channel but, inside Kintyre the stream is N’ly. On the north Irish coast, the stream is E’ly and through The North Channel. 4 hours before Dover High Water, the streams continue southbound through The North Channel and N’ly inside Kintyre. The stream continues to set E’ly on the north Irish coast. 3 hours before Dover High Water, the streams continue southbound through The North Channel and N’ly inside 58
Kintyre. On the north Irish coast, streams from Sheephaven set W’ly to Tory Island and E’ly through The North Channel. 2 hours before Dover High Water, the stream is N’ly from The Shiant Isles and S’ly from Skye through The North Channel and N’ly inside Kintyre. On the north Irish coast, streams run eastward and westward from Malin Head. 1 hour before Dover High Water, the stream around Colonsay turns into The Firth of Lorne; around Islay, it turns into the Sound of Jura and around The Mull of Kintyre, it turns into Kilbrannon Sound and The Clyde. On the north Irish coast, the streams continue to set both E’ly and W’ly from Maln Head, except offshore where the W’ly stream starts north of Tory Island.
gain, for the simple reason that many modern almanacs, textbooks and even simple computer software programs are ‘dumbed down’ and omit any simple explanations of how weather systems really operate, not least about Kintyre, it may be useful to say a little about reading weather charts and understanding forecasts. Kintyre and Gigha, but not Rathlin Island, lie in The Gulf Stream, the prevailing winds are from the south-west. Kintyre’s weather is very localised and one often only needs to go but yards, rather than miles, to escape the showers. When rain comes in from The Atlantic and sweeps across the south end of Machrihanish Bay towards Campbeltown, one will often find parallel rain bands sweeping across from Crinan to Lochgilphead, from West to East Loch Tarbert and 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
be dry and warm at Bellochantuy and yet wet and cold in Glenbarr, just a couple of miles away. So now, what happens when a typical depression crosses Kintyre and The Clyde ? Facing into a moderate West wind, the ‘low’ will lie about NNW and the depression will be moving from SW to NE. There may be some low cumulus cloud on the horizon but, ahead of it and high up in the sky, one will see streaky cirrus cloud and ‘mares’ tails’ precede the warm front. This is closely followed by a thin, almost transparent, veil of cirrostratus cloud which may throw a halo round the sun (or moon) - the open section of the halo indicating the direction of the oncoming weather. The barometer will begin to fall and the wind will back - go anti-clockwise - to the South. Dense grey and thickening stratus clouds will bring increasing amounts of rain and a further fall in the barometer. The wind will increase in strength and again back further south, or south-east. As the warm front passes, the barometer will steady and the wind will veer - go clockwise - to the SW as the rain eases. The cold front now causes the barometer to fall again slightly and more rain comes as the winds backs again, towards the south or south-east. At the front itself, the wind veers sharply NW or N and, as the clouds now begin to break up, the barometer starts to rise. Squally showers may continue for a while but the barometer will now continue to rise and the grey cumulus clouds begin to separate indicating that ‘the low’ has taken its course. A depression could be 1,000 miles across, be slow moving and take a week or more to pass ! Around ‘lows’, winds, angled about 20 or 30 degrees inwards, circulate anti-clockwise in The Northern 59
Hemisphere - clockwise in The Southern Hemisphere. The 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 The Northern Hemisphere - to the left in The Southern Hemisphere. Around ‘highs’, winds, angled outwards, circulate clockwise about their centres in The Northern Hemisphere anti-clockwise in The Southern Hemisphere. The centre of a ‘high’ will be to the left of the individual when facing into the wind in The Northern Hemisphere - to the right in The Southern Hemisphere. Cold and Occluded (Mixed) Fronts move forward faster than Warm Fronts. Wind Strengths may be 30% less where isobars are curved tightly round a ‘low’ but may be 50% greater if the isobars are curved round a ‘high’. Isobars are drawn at 4 mb (millibar) intervals, centres of ‘lows’ and ‘highs’. from the
Two simple wind / speed conversions are easily remembered Force 5 = 25mph 60mph = 100kph Wind Speeds may be assessed quickly by looking at the distance between isobars. Thus the following comparison of distances etc.. Force 2 (About 4- 6 knots) 360 miles Force 3 (About 7-10 knots) 270 miles Force 4 (About 11-16 knots) 150 miles From N. to S. England From N. to S. Ireland From N. to S. Wales
Force 5 (About 110 miles Force 6 (About 85 miles Force 7 (About 70 miles Force 8 (About miles
17-21 knots) 22-27 knots) 28-33 knots) 34-40 knots)
Blackpool to Newcastle Bristol to Isle of Wight Solway Firth to Newcastle 30
When the barometer has been very low, about 29.0” / 982.0 mb, then the first rising usually precedes or indicates strong winds, at times heavy squalls, from the NW, N or NE after which a gradually rising barometer indicates improving weather, if the temperature falls. If the warmth continues, the wind will back i.e. go anticlockwise and a more S’ly or SW’ly wind will follow, especially if the barometer’s rise is sudden. A height of more than 30.00” / 1015.9 mb at sea level is indicative of fine weather and moderate wind except, occasionally, if the wind has been between N and E. With temperatures below 3 degrees Centigrade / 37 degrees Fahrenheit, any fall in the barometer is likely to indicate the coming of snow. The most dangerous shifts of wind, or the heaviest N’ly gales, happen soon after the barometer first rises from a very low point; or, if the wind veers, goes clockwise, gradually, there will be N’ly gales at some time later. A rapid rise of the barometer indicates unsettled weather; a slow movement the contrary; as, likewise, a steady barometer, which, when continued - and with dryness in the air - indicates very fine weather. A rapid and considerable fall is a sign of stormy weather and rain or snow. Alternate rising and falling of the barometer indicates unsettled and threatening weather. The greatest depression of the barometer are with gales from the SE, S or SW; the greatest elevations with wind from the 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 from the NW, N or the NE. If a gale sets in from the E or SE and the wind veers by the S, the barometer will continue falling until the wind is near a marked change at which time a lull may occur; after which 60
Dover to Calais/Boulogne
Indications of approaching changes of weather and changes in the directions and forces of winds are shown less by the height of the barometer than by its rate of falling or rising. Weather forecasts are based on the average rates of change over 3-hourly periods. Gale Warnings are reported as Imminent (in less than 6 hours), Soon (in the next 6 to 12 hours) and Later (in the next 12 to 24 hours). Weather Systems being reported as moving Slowly (between 1 and 15 knots per hour), Steadily (15-20 knots), Rather Quickly (25-35 knots), Rapidly (35-45 knots) and Very Rapidly (over 45 knots per hour). If the barometer has been about 30.00” / 1015.9 mb at sea level and rises steadily while the thermometer falls and 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 expected. On the contrary, if a fall in the barometer takes place while the thermometer is rising and the dampness in the air is increasing, wind and rain may be expected from the SE, S or SW. When the barometer is rather below its ordinary height, near 29.5”/990.0 mb at sea level, then a rise indicates less wind, or a change in wind direction to the N, or less wet.
the gale will be renewed, perhaps suddenly and violently and the veering of the wind towards NW, N or NE will then be indicated by a rising of the barometer and a fall of the thermometer. After very warm and calm weather, a storm or squall, with rain, may follow; as it will at any time when the atmosphere is heated much above the usual seasonal temperature. The state of the air indicates coming weather rather than relating to any present weather.
Teletext Weather Pages
t the time of writing, in 2003, both BBC and ITV teletext pages give useful and regularly updated weather forecasts and local weather reports.
n the middle of the 1966 seamen’s strike one of Peter Kaye’s Clyde Hover Ferries’ two Westland SRN 6 hovercraft, which had been trying to establish a new service on the Clyde since the previous year, was soon running emergency supplies to the islands, the hovercraft took just 45-minutes to do the single West Loch to Islay crossing. Clyde Hover Ferries, a subsidiary of Peter Kaye’s Highland Engineering Ltd. which then owned Dickie’s Boatyard in Tarbert, was formed in 1964 “to operate The World’s first 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. In those days, The Department of Transport, unsure as to whether hovercraft were ships or aircraft, demanded dual marine and air pilot qualifications for all hovercraft officers. On January 6, 1965, Peter Kaye announced that a Westland SRN 5, able to carry up to 20 passengers or two tons of freight, had been purchased and would commence service from Tarbert, Loch Fyne, on June 1, 1965. A further story, on February 9, 1965, suggested that the new service might be extended to the outskirts of the new Abbotsinch Airport but speed was against it, fears being raised that the Black Cart being too narrow and the banks liable to damage from the hovercrafts’ wash. In the event, the company secured a five-year lease on two Westland SRN 6 hovercraft, these capabable of carrying up to 38 passengers, or three tons of freight, at speeds of up to 50-knots. The two hovercraft, each built up of three sections sent from the manufacturers in The Isle of Wight, were assembled at Clydebank and SR.N6 010 gave a demonstration run to Finnart, Loch Long, on Friday, June 18, 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 61
The full shipping forecast for all sea areas ITV Page 157 Inshore shipping forecasts BBC Page 409 and ITV Page 158 A Surfing Report, wind directions, wind speeds, wave heights and conditions appears daily on BBC Page 429. Local weather reports, giving air temperature, wind direction and wind speed, barometric pressure and trends riding, falling or steady - and also general conditions are updated hourly on BBC Page 404. High and Low Water Times and Heights of Tides for DOVER, then Portsmouth, Plymouth, Swansea, Liverpool, GREENOCK, Scrabster, Leith, Hull and Southend-on-Sea appear at the end of the inshore forecast on ITV Page 158.
The Hovercraft and The Catamaran
Millport, with morning and evening ‘positioning’ runs from her base at Tarbert. Rothesay calls were also added later in the month and by then the sister craft, SR.N6 012, had arrived so that, from the beginning of August, following a day of ‘Up The Loch’ trips for Tarbert villagers, the first trip taking television “Opportunity Knocks” celebrities Hughie Green and Monica Rose, a daily service was begun from Tarbert, at 7 a.m., to Tighnabruiach, Rothesay, Wemyss Bay, Dunoon, Gourock and Craigendoran. Seven ‘commanders’ and six hostesses were employed to crew the two hovercraft, each craft having a ‘commander’ and a hostess - some 200 girls applied for the hostesses’ jobs. Only three backup people were employed at the Tarbert yard and each night the hovercraft were hauled up on hand pulled chain hoists so that their undersides and ‘skirts’ could be closely inspected. On September 9, 1965, barely a month after the service began, SR.N6 012 collided with Gourock Pier and maintenance was transferred to Greenock, the daily Tarbert runs being dropped except for final inward runs on Saturdays and starting runs on Mondays. In September 1965 too, Largs Town Council disputed Clyde Hover Ferries’ payments of landing fees, five shillings per trip, to British Railways who had leased Largs’ beaches from The Crown Estates and banned the hovercraft trips on grounds of residents’ complaints about noise from the hovercrafts’ engines. More mechanical troubles were to follow and the services, estimated to be losing around £1,000 per week, were suspended in January 1966 neither the Craigendoran or Rothesay to Wemyss Bay rail connection services ever winning much support. In 1966, SR.N6 012 visited Belfast and then went south to Cowes, by rail ! Her sister, SR.N6 010, now tried using Fairlie Pier as a terminal but by July was running short nonlanding pleasure trips from Rothesay to Inverchaolain Bay at 62
the mouth of Loch Striven, the last of these being made on Monday, September 26, 1966 and then, on October 4, this last “Scooshin’ Cushion” left the Clyde under her own power for Cowes. Just a year after Westland’s first expermental craft, SRN 1, had crossed The English Channel with inventor Christopher Cockerell on July 25, 1959, Denny’s of Dumbarton had formed a subsidiary, Denny Hovercraft Ltd., to build a non-amphibious ‘sidewall’ (catamaran-type) hovercraft design and D2, a ‘hoverbus’ capable of carring up to 70 passengers, was launched on July 18, 1962. Leaving the Clyde on May 29, she arrived in The Thames, 820 miles away, on June 17, 1962. Shortly afterwards, in September 1963, Denny’s went into voluntary liquidation but Denny Hovercraft Ltd. was retained as an asset by the liquidator and while work on a second ‘hoverbus’, D3, was completed, that on the third, D4, was suspended and attention focused on improving the design, this included towing the ‘hoverbus’ at speeds of up to 35-knots astern of a Royal Navy gas-turbine patrol boat on the Skelmorlie Measured Mile. Despite carrying many thousands of passengers on The Thames and Denny’s liquidators doing their best to improve the prototype D2, she failed a series of evaluation tests with the Interservices Hovercraft Trials Unit and was laid up in 1964, the only way ahead now was for Denny’s liquidators to try operating a ‘hoverbus’ for themselves and hope to persuade an operator to purchase either or, hopefully, both the two craft now renumbered as D2-003 and D2-004 and in 1968 they formed Norwest Hovercraft Ltd. for that very purpose. After being overhauled at Poole, D2-003, under the command of Sir John Onslow, Bart., made the longest ever non-stop voyage for a ‘sidewall’ hovercraft, leaving Poole on July 4, 1968 and arriving at Fleetwood the following day. Though the intention had been to operate a service between Fleetwood to Barrow-in-Furness, pulling visitors from
Blackpool to The Lake District and vice versa, a theoretically lucrative proposition to this day, the only return trips were on Monday, August 19, 1968, it being suddenly considered more profitable to run 30-minute ‘cruises’ out of Fleetwood alone. Though D2-003 would also follow to Fleetwood in 1969, and a trans-Mersey service also considered, Norwest Hovercraft Ltd. was put into liquidation in 1970 and D2-002 shipped to Jamaica to open a new route between Kingston and Palisadoes International Airport for Jamaica Hovercraft Ltd.. Too in 1970, MacBraynes former Islay ferry, “Lochiel (IV)”, as “Norwest Laird”, began her new but short-lived services from Fleetwood to Barrow-in-Furness and Fleetwood to Douglas, Isle of Man, she too was laid up at the end of 1970. On Saturday, June 6, 1970, The Caledonian Steam Packet Company, with a 62-passenger Hovermarine ‘sidewall’ hovercraft, HM2 011, made an inaugural trip from Gourock to Largs and a week later, after a series of trials, began operating from Largs to Millport, calls at Rothesay and Dunoon being later added to her roster. At the end of the 1971 season, unsuited to Clyde waters, she was ‘reacquired’ by her builders American parent company and, rebuilt, was later employed in America, then Canada, now renumbered HM2 311. Though the weather conditions in The Clyde and West Highlands are not conducive to high-speed hovercraft and hydrofoil operations, Western Ferries announced that they were to charter an 89-foot, 160-passenger, 27-knot Westermoen catamaran, which they named “Highland Seabird” for service in The Clyde during the 1976 season. In October 1976, chartered by The Highlands and Islands Development Board, she set out from Greenock for Portree via Brodick, Campbeltown, Port Askaig, Colonsay, Oban, Fort William, Tobermory, and Tarbert, Harris. Given the opportunity to keep her on charter for the following season, Western Ferries, after discussions with the H.I.D.B., based 63
her at Oban and reintroduced the Fort William, Tobermory, Iona and Crinan cruises, last performed by MacBrayne’s turbine steamer “King George V” in 1974 and, following a successful season, Western Ferries purchased the “Highland Seabird” from her Norwegian owner-builders in October 1977 and chartered her, till the following May, to Howard Doris Ltd. at the Loch Kishorn oil platform construction yard. In May 1978, again based at Oban, Western Ferries added a new excursion to Portrush and Moville in the Irish republic, on Saturdays and Sundays. On Monday, September 18, 1978, at the end of her season, the “Highland Seabird” gave Campbeltonians a special day excursion to Ayr. In 1979, the Irish day excursion to Portrush and Moville was cut to Sundays only and then dropped completely the following year, the spring of 1981 saw the “Highland Seabird” on charter to Sealink for the Portsmouth to Ryde passenger ferry service and then she was laid up on the slip at Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow. In July 1981, The Secretary of State for Scotland proposed that the subsidy for CalMac’s Gourock Dunoon service be withdrawn and Western Ferries be given a capital grant so that they could buy another car-ferry to cope with the extra vehicle traffic, a subsidy too would be offered to the company to operate a Gourock - Dunoon passenger service with the “Highland Seabird”, then lying idle at Old Kilpatrick. A public enquiry ensued and the proposals rejected, serious hardship, inconvenience and difficulty being expected if the Dunoon passengers had to rely on the “Highland Seabird”, it being acknowledged that, the weather conditions, particularly in winter, would quickly lead to the suspension of the service if it were left to a 90-foot catamaran which was never designed to cope with the big seas which all too often threatened even ordinary car-ferry services and the “Highland Seabird” was now put up for sale. In October 2002, CalMac’s Gourock - Dunoon service was again under threat, the second ‘spare’ car-ferry now focusing on the Rothesay - Wemyss Bay service. To cope with the two
morning and one evening traffic peaks, CalMac made the mistake of chartering the 250-passenger, but 19.5 metrelong catamaran, “Ali Cat” from The Solent-based Red Funnel Group and after only one trip to Dunoon she was forced to tie till the weather abated. Interestingly, registered in Campbeltown, the “Highland Seabird” was sold to French owners in March 1985, the new owners taking her to St. Nazaire where, in March 1942, H.M.S. “Campbeltown”, formerly the U.S.S. “Buchanan”, had famously and successfully been used to ram and blow up the big gates into the dock during World War II.
immediately been able to use the already existing facilities at Campbeltown and elsewhere but, there was a major drawback to her purchase. The ship would have been cheap to buy being on offer at some £17,000, including a spare engine but some £30,000 needed to be spent removing and replacing the asbestos insulation materials in her engine room and in the end no formal offers were made for her. Despite that nothing came from the study to reinstate the Irish ferry service with the “Arran (V)”, the proposition had 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 little if any commercial vehicle traffic and the route was therefore almost purely for tourists. The traditional pattern of tourist movements around Scotland finds that traffic moves anti-clockwise i.e. from ‘the south’, northwards to Edinburgh and then to Inverness and south again to Fort William and Oban, the tourist travellers then heading homewards as their funds run out, the final funds being kept for a final night’s ‘fling’ in the ‘border’ and Lake District areas and the essential ‘first-thing’ and ‘nextmorning breakfast’ grocery supplies needed when they got home ! Despite the prevalence of cash dispensing machines and credit cards, nothing has altered the tourists’ attitudes over the years. In the 1960’s, The Caledonian Steam Packet Company questioned motorists disembarking from the Dunoon car-ferry at Gourock about their intentions and found that the majority of those returning south to England turned not to Glasgow and then the A74 but south, down the Ayrshire Coast to Dumfries and Galloway and The Lake District for their final nights of their holidays. When the Fairlie-based car ferry “Cowal” began a daily service Fairlie - Keppel Pier (Millport) and Brodick to Tarbert in 1970, the service essentially ‘unadvertised’ being designed to provide a relief for the sometimes over-loaded Ardrossan 64
A Ferry Good Idea
here are good ‘geographical’ reasons to establish, at least seasonal excursion ferry services across the mouth of The Thames, between The Medway and Southend-on-Sea; across Morecambe Bay, between Fleetwood and Barrow-inFurness and, as is held here, from Campbeltown to both Larne and Loch Ryan but, there is no point trying to enter the tourist trade or trying to set up a ferry service without fully understanding national traffic patterns, seasonal statistics and cash flow effects and the argument figures here may prove of some ‘historic interest’ to those with a particular interest in ‘the saga’ of the Campbeltown Ballycastle car ferry service. Despite Western Ferries withdrawal of the Campbeltown - Red Bay service at the end of September 1973, the idea of a short-sea Irish ferry crossing from Kintyre never went away and, in 1979, with the withdrawal of CalMac’s car-ferry “Arran (V)”, a study was put in hand to gauge her viability on the Irish crossing from Kintyre. Equipped for both side and stern loading, she would have
Brodick car ferry “Glen Sannox”, motorists loading their cars at Tarbert confirmed the earlier findings and, much to STG’s surprise and thanks largely to the editor of the weekly “Autocar” magazine, quite a considerable traffic built up for the Tarbert section ! The proposals to reinstate the car-ferry service from Campbeltown took account of these findings and, instead of simply focusing on the provision of an Irish service, sought to establish links with both Ireland and the Loch Ryan area drawing traffic through Kintyre which would otherwise be lost to the already well patronised Stranraer - Larne ferry services. Additionally, the proposed new services would open up a through continental link to the Cork to Roscoff vehicle ferry. Refrigerated lorry traffic from Spain hauled fruit across the English Channel, the empty lorries came north to the various West Highland landing ports for shellfish before returning home again, not infrequently through Poole, in the south of England and the homeward route through Kintyre had the potential for shortening driving hours and delivery times. The Kintyre - ‘Loch Ryan’ link would again pull homeward bound southern tourists through Mid Argyll and Kintyre and, through reciprocal ticketing arrangements with the Stranraer - Larne and other Irish Sea ferry operators, a completely new set of mini-break, weekend and mini-circular tourist breaks, operating in all directions, would be created. There was no recent history of commercial trading between Kintyre and the Ayrshire ports to suggest the viability of any Kintyre - Ayr - Troon or Ardrossan freight service. In any case, despite the appeal of any short Kintyre - Ayrshire ferry crossing times, the additional time needed for boarding and disembarkation would nullify the seeming advantage of such a route and, there being no real time improvement in 65
moving freight by this route, one easily affected by weather conditions, no support could be expected from road hauliers. There were already and ample enough berthing facilities for stern and side-loading ferries at both Cairnryan and Stranraer, the former being favoured, right at the entrance to Loch Ryan. On the Irish side, rather than Red Bay, the natural destination was Larne with good berthing facilities and, importantly, good route communications to the whole of Ireland by bus and by train, ideal for ‘non-landing day trip’ excursions from Ireland to Kintyre. The timetable proposals were ‘Loch Ryan’Campbeltown Mon & Fri Larne Tu Wed
0945 0645 0945 Thu 1045 1330 Sat & Sun Tue & Thu 1800 1500 Mon Wed Fri 1900 2200 Sat & Sun
1030 1800 1900
As Required 0200 2300 0200 As Required 0300 0600 0300 While both The Scottish Tourist Board and the then Highlands and Islands Development Board published monthly ‘occupancy rates’ for Kintyre, private records were employed to obtain a ‘full and proper’ overview of the actual trading pattern in Kintyre on a weekly basis throughout the ‘average’ year and the results then used to found the necessary traffic projections for the new services.
Summer Season (Apr - Sep) Date % of Sales Cars Passengers W/ends Ann. T/o Occ. Per Week Per Week Apr 7E 1.2214% 16.10% 224 747 14 1.5158% 19.98% 280 933 21 1.2207% 16.09% 224 747 28 1.8648% 24.58% 336 1,120 = 5.8228% 19.18% 1,064 3,547 May 5 1.9543% 25.76% 364 1,213 12 1.9073% 25.14% 364 1,213 19 2.8465% 37.52% 532 1,773 26 3.0248% 39.87% 560 1,867 = 9.7330% 32.07% 1,820 6,066 Jun 2 1.7138% 22.59% 308 1,026 9 2.6288% 34.65% 476 1,587 66
16 2.3170% 30.54% 420 1,400 23 2.6644% 35.12% 504 1,680 30 2.6576% 35.03% 504 1,680 = 11.9818% 31.58% 2,212 7,373 1st Qtr. = 27.5377% 27.92% 5,096 16,987 July 7 3.5847% 47.25% 672 2,240 14 4.2690% 56.27% 784 2,613 21 4.3745% 57.66% 812 2,707 28 7.5867% 100.00% 1,400 4,667 = 19.8151% 65.29% 3,668 12,227 Aug 4 4.8107% 63.41% 896 2,987 11 2.3693% 31.23% 448 1,493 18 1.9976% 26.33% 364 1,213 25 1.8291% 24.11% 336 1,120 = 11.0069% 36.27% 2,044 6,813 Sep 1 1.6220% 21.38% 308 1,027 8 2.1030% 27.72% 392 1,307 15 2.5613% 33.76% 476 1,587 22 1.5909% 20.97% 280 933
29 280 933
19.08% 24.58% 40.70% 34.31% 7,448 12,544
15 653 22 933 29
1.1175% 1.5219% 1.3216%
14.73% 20.06% 17.42%
196 280 252
= 9.3249% 1,736 5,787 2nd Qtr. = 40.1470% 24,827 Apr - Sep = 41,813 Date 67.6848%
W/ends Week Oct 6 1.4111% 18.60% 840 13 1.7434% 22.98% 1,027 20 1.6038% 21.14% 1,027 27 1.5249% 20.10% 933 = 6.2833% 20.70% 3,827 Nov 3 1.2556% 16.55% 747 10 1.2366% 16.30% 747 17 1.2540% 16.53% 747 24 1.0697% 14.10% 653 = 4.8160% 15.87% 2,894 Dec 1 1.0287% 13.56% 653 8 1.4543% 19.17% 933
Winter Season (Oct - Mar) % of Sales Passengers Ann. T/o Occ. Per Week 252
308 308 280 1,148 224 224 224 196 868 196 280 67
840 = 6.4442% 16.98% 1,204 4,013 3rd Qtr. = 17.5436% 17.78% 3,220 10,773 Jan 5 1.1456% 15.10% 224 747 12 0.9081% 11.97% 168 560 19 1.6053% 21.16% 308 1,027 26 1.3428% 17.70% 252 840 = 5.0019% 16.48% 952 3,173 Feb 2 0.9574% 12.62% 168 560 9 0.9377% 12.36% 168 560 16 0.9506% 12.53% 168 560 23 1.3079% 17.24% 252 840 = 4.1537% 13.68% 756 2,520 Mar 2 1.1531% 15.20% 224 747 9 1.1175% 14.73% 196 653 16 1.2366% 16.30% 224 747 23 0.8573% 11.30% 168 560
224 1,036 2,744 5,964 18,508
= 5.6157% 14.80% 3,453 4th Qtr. = 14.7714% 14.97% 9,147 Oct - Mar = 32.3151% 16.38% 19,880 Annual Traffic /Load 24.34 % cars 61,693 pass.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Co., put her on a weekend service to Douglas, outward on Friday evenings and returning to Ardrossan on Sundays, a service which she continued for three seasons and was important for Scottish motorcyclists going to the annual Manx TT races. In December 1996, CalMac’s ‘Island Class’ “Bruernish”, with a Northern Ireland Office subsidy, had initiated a carferry servce from Rathlin Island to Ballycastle and CalMac, the “Claymore (III)” ‘spare’, had been pursuing the possibility of opening up a service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle but, after much delay, The Secretary of State for Scotland refused to let CalMac operate the new service and, in October 1996, announced that he had ordered the company to sell the newly overhauled “Claymore (III)” to Sea Containers’ newly formed subsidiary, The Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company, for £750,000, it being that they had agreed to operate a summer service on the route for the next three years and without any other operating subsidies. During the winters of 1997-98 and 1998-99, the ship was charted back to CalMac in case of need to use her for reliefs on the Islay service and elsewhere. Sea Containers insistence on using “Claymore (III)” for the Isle of Man TT motor-bike races services, a charter service that could have been provided by other ships, prevented any regular operation of the Irish ferry beginning until mid-to-late June each year. Little surprisingly, the Ballycastle service ended in 1999 and the “Claymore (III)” was laid up at Birkenhead. The route’s traffic figures, preserved for posterity, reveal her loadings in 1997, between July 1 and October 19, 27,167 passengers, 6,378 cars, 65 heavy commercials, 190 caravans, 31 trailers, 151 motor cycles and 262 bicycles. in 1998, between May 8 and October 11 (with a break from June 1 - 18), 28,001 passengers, 5,502 cars, 52 commercials, 65 light vans, 25 buses, 13 mini-buses, 134 68
The Fixed and Variable operating costs of the service were expected to ‘break even’ with a 35% full load i.e. 18 cars and 60 passengers per single one-way trip, 504 cars and 1,680 passengers per week or 6,552 cars and 21,840 passengers per 13-week quarter. The exact traffic mix was of course unknown and, to satisfy the given projections, a “calculating ratio” of 3 cars was considered equal to 1 lorry or bus or equal to 10 passengers equal to 8 adults and 2 children. Though others chose to ignore these occupancy figures and traffic projections, they were later employed to “guesstimate” expected attendances at the ill-fated Millennium Dome and to, again, “guess-timate” passenger numbers for the successful London Eye/Millennium Wheel in London and the final attendances and loadings were found to fall within less than 1½% of the final published trading results for these far-distant attractions ! It is therefore little surprising to find that the accuracy of the projections here is also reflected in the traffic returns for the short-lived Campbeltown - Ballycastle ferry service operated by the “Claymore (III)” and had her service been properly promoted in advance of her sailing seasons she might well have exceeded the traffic projections set out above. In 1994, CalMac’s car-ferry “Claymore (III)” became ‘spare’ and, based at Ardrossan, CaMac, in association with
caravans, 45 trailers, 39 camper vans, 378 motor cycles and 114 bicycles. in 1999, between June 18 and September 26, 23,722 passengers, 5,291 cars, 65 commercials, 24 buses, 181 caravans, 46 trailers, 30 camper vans, 313 motor cycles and an unrecorded number of bicycles. Had a proper and regular ‘comparable’ programme of sailings been carried out the traffic projections, May to October, of 39,947 passengers and 11,984 cars might well have been matched ! Despite the ‘irregularity’ of starting dates at the beginning of the three seasons, 1997 - 1999, records of Claymore’s loadings can be compared directly with the traffic projections included here. For the period July to September, it was suggested that 24,827 passengers and 7,448 cars might use the Irish ferry service. In the seasons between July and September, she carried 23,509 passengers and 5,447 cars in 1997 20,758 passengers and 3,940 cars in 1998 and21,909 passengers and 4,812 cars in 1999 It is clearly apparent that the passenger traffic was ‘near target’, particularly in the first (1997) season and the biggest problem, especially in generating vehicle traffic, was the public uncertainty in the following two seasons about sailing dates, lack of proper promotion decimating the potential car traffic figures. Nor did it help that, after her first (1997) season, changed her overnight berth from Campbeltown to Ballycastle. Strangely, in 2000, the year after Sea Containers abandoned Campbeltown, they didn’t operate “Claymore (III)” on the Isle of Man run but instead had her on a short 69
charter to Strandfaraskip Landsins, in the Faraoe Islands at the very time when, had she been on the Campbeltown to Ballycastle service, Sea Containers would have insisted on her covering the Manx TT races ! How the company got out of the Manx ‘charter’ so quickly and easily remains a mystery, why couldn’t they get out of it before ? Critics might suggest that the writer’s projections were ‘wildly optimistic’ but the ‘proof of the pudding’ is indeed borne out by the July to September results for each of the three years of Claymore’s sailings ! While many have dithered, prevaricated and questioned the viability and profitability of the Irish ferry route from Kintyre, Orkney-based Pentald Ferries, bought the former CalMac car-ferry “Iona (VII)”, renamed her Pentalina B and, in the spring of 2001, after a three-year lay-up while being rebuffed at every turn for support and subsidies from the local enterprise agencies and councils, began a thrice daily crossing between St. Margaret’s Hope, in Orkney and Gill’s Bay, on the opposite side of The Pentland Firth. Again, from the projections noted earlier, for a 7-month, April to October service, it can be suggested that a ship such as “Iona (VII)”, capable of carrying 50 cars and 300 passengers, should expect to convey 45,640 passengers and 13,692 cars. When Pentland Ferries’ figures were published, it was revealed that they carried 46,000 passengers - just 360 more than the projection - and carried 16,000 cars, 2,300 cars more than the projection and it was asserted that not only was Pentland Ferries was able to operate “quite comfortably without a subsidy” but too was “profitable” on a turnover slightly in excess of just £1m in its first seven months ! Andrew Banks, Pentland Ferries’ owner, was quoted in ‘The (Glasgow) Herald’ as saying that the traffic figures exceeded his own projections by some 30% so it may be reasonably assumed that the “Iona (VII)”, now renamed Pentalina B, costs less than £1m to operate on a seven-month service.
Given the writer’s traffic projections, the actual traffic loadings for the 1997-1999 service and now Pentland Ferries’ figures, it would seem that ‘the Irish ferry’ is indeed viable and probably even viable without a subsidy if one is to accept Andrew Banks and Pentland Ferries’ experiences. That being the case, one wonders just who ‘conjured-up’ the new ‘subsidy’ figure for the Irish ferry, up from £750,000 to perhaps £1.4m per year, for an 11-month service and a fiveyear contract.
‘BES’ ceiling on ‘shipping’ ventures was raised from just £500,000 to £5 million. Behind the new venture were Anthony and Susan Binns whose canal chartering business, established in 1973, was operating some thirty narrow-boats from bases at Anderton, on the ‘Cheshire Ring’ and Hillmorton,, outside Rugby and, as Operations Director and Senior Ship’s Master, they were joined by Captain Howard Anguish who had formerly sailed with the Cunard Line. On October 28, 1986, a new company, IML Hebridean Island Cruising Ltd., was formed and then, on February 26, 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 date, its subsidiary company then named as Hebridean Island Cruises Ltd., the latter, a wholly owned subsidiary of the founding company, chartering and operating the ship in The West Highlands. On February 4, 1987, IML Hebridean Island Cruising Ltd. entered into a contract with Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd. to purchase their car-ferry “Columba (II)” for the sum of £275,000, a 30% non-returnable deposit of £82,500 being agreed in respect of this offer. Then, a full year later, on February 8, 1988, London-based L. & R. Leisure Consultants wrote supporting the company’s contention that they too believed there was indeed a big enough small-ship cruise market to provide the “1,800, seven-day equivalent, passengers” sought and that a “70% ‘occupancy’ rate was a reasonable objective” for the new venture, the ship’s proposed programme operating over an initially 22-week operating season, from March to October 1989 and, an extended 30-34 week season in later years. Three days later the accountants Touche Ross’s Manchester office confirmed their review of the new venture’s 5-year trading projections observing “it unlikely that all the 70
The “Hebridean Princess”
n the summer of 1988, MacBrayne’s/CalMac announced that the end had come for the summer day excursions from Oban to Iona and with the announcement came the news that the “Columba (II)” had been sold to Hebridean Princess Cruises plc. and the story of the ship’s financing, acquisition and conversion may be of some general interest. The Conservative Government, appreciating that many companies requiring relatively small amounts of equity capital were ill-served by the ‘conventional’ venture capital industry, had set up a Business Expansion Scheme in the mid-1980’s. The venture capital industry did not generally cater for ‘start-up’ situations, smaller capitalised companies being, by definition, risky and many potential investors considering such risk/rewards unfavourable. Special considerations were given for ‘shipping’ ventures and it was essentially through these provisions and the availabilty of funds from the Ship Mortgage Finance Company (SMFC), it operated by the commercial banks on behalf of The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), that a new venture was set up to operate a a small luxury cruise-ship in The West Highlands. Fortuitously, in the spring of 1988, just when funding-raising for the new venture was beginning, the
assumptions will remain valid throughout the (5-year) period” and the following day, February 12, 1988, Leonard Reilly, M.D. of the company’s Hull-based naval architects, Shiptech Ltd., wrote predicting a successful conversion of the ship by George Prior’s Great Yarmouth shipyard. Prior’s themselves would later, on August 12, 1988, write too that they foresaw little problem in meeting the requirements of Lloyd’s, The Department of Trade and Health and Safety regulations. The funding needed to get to this stage, £150,000, had come from another company called IML Holdings Ltd. and it now proposed to put in a further £50,000 to add to its shareholding in the new company Hebridean Princess Cruises plc., the balance of the funds needed now to be raised through the Business Expansion Scheme (BES) and a Ship Mortgage Finance Company (SMFC) loan. With an authorised capital of £2 million in Ordinary Shares of £1 each, Hebridean Princess Cruises plc. opened a share subscription list on March 1, 1988, offering 1.3 million £1 shares at £1.95p per share, the aim being to raise somewhere between £1.56 and £2.145m. Adding to the purchase price of the ship, already agreed at £275,000, was the then estimated £2,009,000 cost of her conversion and outfitting, to accommodate up to 70 guests, plus £76,000 for working capital and contingencies plus a further £150,000 to cover the cost of the share issue, a grand total of £2,510,000. Through the funding proposal, IML Holdings Ltd. would hold £200,000 of Ordinary Shares and, with BES subscribers then holding a minimum of £1.56 million shares, the balance of funds would be provided by a SMFC loan of £1m and through H.P./Leasing agreements worth £50,000, a £300,00 cash deposit to The National Westminster Bank to secure the £1m SMFC loan, the SMFC loan being drawn on the redelivery of the ship after its conversion from Prior’s yard in Great Yarmouth. 71
The company’s financial projections suggested the following sequence of results with the ship able to accommodate up to 70 guests looked after by a crew of 22. 30-week season Occupancy Turnover (000’s) Pre-Tax Profits Occupancy Turnover (000’s) Pre-Tax Profits Occupancy Turnover (000’s) Pre-Tax Profits 1989 1990 1991 1992 64 % 69 % 79 % 81 % 1,217 1,487 1,848 2,021 59 195 500 645 69 % 74 % 84 % 86 % 1,309 1,581 1,963 2,143 132 280 604 762 74 % 79 % 89 % 91 % 1,396 1,687 2,072 2,260 201 367 704 874
The prospectus suggested that prices would range from £300 per person for three nights to £1,450 per person for 7 nights in a top grade stateroom with outside private balcony, the majority of accommodation being priced at just under £1,000 per person for a 7-night cruise. Then, with some six weeks to go before taking delivery of the ship from Caledonian MacBrayne, Leisure and Marine Holdings plc. too opened a share subscription list, the company having an authorised capital of £2m in Ordinary £1 shares and offering 1.5 million shares at £1.25p each to raise between £455,000 and £1.875 m. In the new share prospectus, essentially a copy of the prospectus issued previously by Hebridean Princess Cruises plc., the company, now re-named Leisure and Marine Holdings plc., proposed investing a further £150,000 itself, bringing its investment up to £300,000 and noted that a fixed price for the ship conversion work had now been agreed with Prior’s yard at Great Yarmouth, the conversion cost now fixed 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. The costs of the ship, her conversion, the working/contingency capital and share issue were now reduced to £1,420,000 it being funded by £300,000 from IML Holdings Ltd., at least £455,000 from the new BES subscriptions, a £560,000 SMFC loan for the ship - The National Westminster Bank now only required a £60,000 cash deposit and the interest 7-year loan, negotiated at a now fixed rate of 7½% p.a., payable at six-monthly intervals. Now, though the H.P./Leasing costs had however doubled to £100,000, IML were also putting in a loan of £50,000 and the final £15,000 needed would be covered by accrued interests on funds. New financial projections suggested the following sequence of results with the ship’s capacity reduced to accommodate up to 65 guests looked after by a crew of 22. 30-week season projections for 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 Occupancy Turnover (000’s) Pre-Tax Profits 360 64 % 69 % 79 % 81 % 81 % 701 1,130 1,345 1,483 1,556 44 44 221 313 30-week season projections for 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 Occupancy Turnover (000’s) Pre-Tax Profits 536 74 % 79 % 89 % 91 % 91 % 802 1,284 1,506 1,656 1,738 121 166 361 472
The new prospectus contained revised cruise prices which would now range from £250 per person for three nights to £1,450 per person for 7 nights in a top grade stateroom with outside private balcony, the majority of accommodation now being projected at around £600 per person for a 7-night cruise. Withdrawn from CalMac sailings, the “Columba (II)” was handed over to her new owners, Leisure and Marine Holdings plc. at Greenock on Friday, October 14, 1988 and sailed immediately to arrive in Rochester the following Monday where she was to be dry-docked, grit-blasted and have her under-water hull painted before sailing for George Prior’s yard at Great Yarmouth for conversion work to begin. With the ship’s conversion cost reduced from £2,009,000 to £1,029,000, plans for the construction of ‘The Skye Lounge’, at the stern end of the upper ‘B’ Promenade Deck, it immediately below the bridge/boat ‘A’ deck and for cabins on the old car-deck, now referred to as ‘The Waterfront Deck’, were now necessarily set aside until a later date. On Wednesday, April 26, 1989, some two hundred and fifty guests invited to the ceremony at Great Yarmouth, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York re-named the ship “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 72
30-week season projections for 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 Occupancy Turnover (000’s) Pre-Tax Profits 448 69 % 74 % 84 % 86 % 86 % 751 1,207 1,426 1,569 1,647 82 105 291 392
flowers. Having very quickly made a name for its very luxurious cruises around the Scottish West Highlands, Hebridean Island Cruises now hopes to earn a similar accolade for its operation of the 4,200 gross ton “Hebridean Spirit” which was built in 1991 for Renaissance Cruises as their ‘Renaissance Six’, later sold and renamed “Sun Viva 2”. The new ship, with a crew of 74 to look after the 80 passengers, will only occasionally visit Scottish waters, her cruising programme having already taken her from Leith to Southern India via The Baltic, The Mediterranean and The Red Sea and her passengers flying to and from different ports for seven or more night fly-cruise holidays. While both “Hebridean Princess” and “Hebridean Spirit” cater for the very top end of the now highly competitive luxury cruise market, the “Hebridean Princess” has been consistently fortunate in keeping threequarters of her cabins full all season year-in-year-out. Given the same standards set by the “Hebridean Princess”, the “Hebridean Spirit” might too find a similar ‘niche’ market for herself as she follows in the wake of those other ‘miniliners’ whose courses were set by the pioneering “Caledonian Star”, a converted deep-sea trawler. Whatever the outcome of the new venture, the operation of the “Hebridean Princess” looks fairly secure, the majority of her guests coming from home and not, as one might expect, from overseas !
running, albeit something of an impoverished schedule till the end of the 1977 season. She had reverted to her original name “Queen Mary” at a ceremony on Thursday, May 6, 1976, the 1934-built Cunard liner of the same name now removed from the shipping registers and berthed at Long Beach as a static hotel and conference centre. The “Queen Mary” was laid up in Greenock’s East India Harbour and then sold to Euroyachts Ltd. for conversion to a floating restaurant, her three valuable propellors, simply, burnt off, rather than being uncoupled from her tailshafts, in Lamont’s dry-dock. Though she had been towed from the Clyde to Chatham on January 29, 1981, it was only in July 1988 that, now again with two funnels, she was then towed up-river to be moored near London’s Hungerford Bridge, not far from the old “Maid of Ashton”, in use as a floating restaurant bar and renamed “Hispaniola (II)”. Sold to City Cruises of London in the early part of 2002, the old “Maid of Ashton” put to sea for the first time in nearly 30 years when she was towed to George Prior’s yard at Ipswich for refitting and hull inspection later in the year. While one of her sister-ships, the “Maid of Argyll”, renamed first “City of Piraeus” and the “City of Corfu”, was declared a total loss after fire broke out on board in 1997, her other sister-ships, both now able to carry cars, continue to sail on., the former “Maid of Cumbrae” as the “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 them, in Malta’s Valetta Harbour, the one time Largs Millport ferry “Keppel”, once the “Rose”, continues to sail under her old Clyde name. The “Queen Mary” now occupies the moorings first used by the Clyde paddle steamer “Caledonia”, renamed “Old Caledonia”, irreparably damaged by fire in on April 27, 1980, it being then the intention to replace her with the “King George V” but she too had been consumed by fire 73
From “Queen” to “Knooz”
ith the coming of the 1970’s and the demise of the “Duchess of Hamilton” so too came the end of Campbeltown’s regular summer steamer services.
The 1933-built turbine “Queen Mary II” took up the excursion programme for the 1971 season and continued
during conversion work at Cardiff on August 26, 1981. CalMac, now concentrating on car ferry services, had sent the 1957-built “Glen Sannox (III)” to be re-engined at Hall Russell’s Aberdeen yard early in 1977 and, with the withdrawal of the “Queen Mary” at the end of that same year, the “Glen Sannox (III)” found herself on an integrated cruise-car ferry roster in the summers of 1978, the days Campbeltown’s regular, even occasional, excursion service were over. The “Glen Sannox (III)” would now find herself acting as relief car-ferry as often in West Highland waters as in the Clyde even, in February 1979, somewhat exceptionally calling at the island of Gigha, Gigha’s own car ferry service to Tayinloan not then being in operation. 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”.
Portsmouth - Ryde passenger ferry “Shanklin” and, renamed “Prince Ivanhoe”, she took up her integrated excursion programme of sailings, including Campbeltown, in 1981. Sadly, she struck a ‘submerged reef’, some maintain ‘a submarine’, off The Gower Coast on Monday, August 3, 1981 and, safely beached to evacuate her passengers and crew, she was subsequently broken up where she lay. In 1986, “Waverley (IV)” was joined by the twin-screw 1949-built “Balmoral”, both ships now continuing to provide a wide programme of excursion sailings around Britain. In 1993, the “Balmoral” initiated what was to become an almost annual day trip from Campbeltown to Red Bay and Rathlin Island, the 2002 trip, on Saturday, June 22, was given by “Waverley (IV)” and, breaking new ground, began from Ayr, leaving only time for the steamer to cruise to Fair Head instead of Rathlin itself.
AN OVERSEAS MYSTERY . . . . .
Keeping Up Steam
ithdrawn from service at the end of the 1973 season, the 1947-built paddle-steamer “Waverley (IV)” was handed over to The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society in 1974 and, after an inaugural cruise on the Thursday, gave her first public sailing on Saturday, May 24, 1975, an excursion from Glasgow’s Anderston Quay to Gourock, Dunoon, Tarbert and Ardrishaig, the old ‘Royal Route’ of MacBrayne’s mail steamer service. Three years later, on Saturday, June 24, 1978, she repeated the excursion as a centennial tribute to MacBrayne’s famous paddle-steamer “Columba (I)” leaving Glasgow’s Stobcross Quay at 7.11 a.m.. To complement “Waverley (IV)” and generate more funds for her upkeep, another consortium refurbished the former 74
kipness House’s owner was a cousin of Skelmorlie Castle’s tenant and when new sandstone was required it was sent by ‘puffer’ from the quarry at Skelmorlie to Skipness and then there was the ‘smuggling’ connection. One John McConnachie of Carradale who used to take whisky from the ‘Sma Still’ in Arran to one Henry Watson, the gardener at Skelmorlie Castle ! One of Henry’s sons, William Watson, an engineer by profession, was something of an adventurer, having grown up with the family of their next neighbour, A. D. Campbell of ‘Ashcraig’, a West Indian sugar planter William Watson eventually settled for a while in Louisiana in the 1850’s but his adventurous spirit led him to join The Confederates, first the army and then their navy, initially on
the “Rob Roy”, blockade running schooner. William Watson, by virtue of his engineering knowledge and upbringing on the shores of The Clyde, had some part in procuring and operating the Clyde Steamers which were quickly sold to The Confederates as blockade runners and it was at this time that he met up with one Henry Morton Stanley, later to find fame for seeking out Dr David Livingstone in Africa. Having now digressed this far ‘off course’ - and there will be no doubt further ‘digressions’ in these pages - it is worth recording the seeming story of Watson and Morton for it seems to be unreported elsewhere and it involves both a Clyde Steamer and the Burns family who had many shipping interests in our own home area. H. M. Stanley was born John Rowlands, son of unmarried parents, in the Welsh town of Denbigh, note Denbigh and John Rowlands sailed as a cabin-boy for New Orleans where he was adopted by a merchant named Stanley which persuaded his change of name to Henry Morton Stanley. Stanley joined The Confederate Army and then their navy and, though supposition, probably met up with Skelmorlieborn engineer William Watson. It would seem too that Stanley’s then adopted father may have contributed largely to the purchase price of a former Clyde Steamer, perhaps through Watson’s encouragement and contacts. Very likely too, it would seem that Watson became her engineer and young H.M. Stanley, with his cabin-boy trans-Atlantic experience, became one of her deck officers, perhaps even her captain. In July 2000, The Texas Institute of Naval Archaeology ‘ announced that it was working on “the recovery” of a British paddle steamer, most likely a Clyde-built paddle steamer, believed to be a blockade-runner, which had run aground on a sandbank in Galveston Bay during The Civil War and, despite the fact that she had reportedly been shelled after 75
her stranding, ‘The Institute’ has reported that she is “in excellent condition”. The curious thing about the ship is her name the “Denbigh” ! It certainly isn’t a Clyde or Scottish-related name and, though it might have been picked at random, the “Denbigh” connection, through Stanley’s birth and subsequent adoption, has some credence ! Perhaps we’ll never know ? In 1867, Henry Morton Stanley joined the staff of “The New York Herald” and was sent off, via London, to join Lord Napier’s Abyssinian expedition. Both Archibald MacEachern and William Mackinnon were too in Africa at this time. Too in 1867, one Dr James ‘Paraffin’ Young bought Kelly Estate, overlooking Wemyss Bay’s Pier and Railway Station, opened on Monday, May 15, 1865. Young would soon have met his neighbours, George and, his son, John Burns, of G. & J. Burns and the Cunard Line, who lived less than a mile away in Wellesley House and Castle Wemyss, respectively, and in the course of conversation would no doubt have made them aware of his close friendship with Dr David Livingstone, the African explorer and missionary. By sheer coincidence that year, 1867, young Henry Morton Stanley too appeared at Wemyss Bay, as a house guest at Castle Wemyss and, with ‘Paraffin’ Young in the company, would ‘meet’ Dr Livingstone for the first time ! No doubt too, Stanley also had the opportunity again to see and visit William Watson, his father living just ‘down the road’ beside Skelmorlie Castle too. It might even be that Stanley and Watson even crossed The Atlantic together that year ? In any case, there can be little doubt that H.M. Stanley, “The New York Herald” reporter, already knew a great deal
about Livingstone even before his editor gave him his legendary assignment and that, when the they eventually met, their conversation would inevitably turn to their mutual Wemyss Bay friendships. When Livingstone’s body was brought back home for burial, in Westminster, his two African servants, Susi and Chuma, came to Wemyss Bay to stay with ‘Paraffin’ Young at Kelly House. They built a replica of Livingstone’s hut in the estate grounds and it lasted in fairly good condition until the 1930’s before being swamped by undergrowth.
LOWESTOFT BELFAST DONAGHADEE
to Winterton Ness or Orfordness coastwise to Rathlin Island or Portaferry to Warrenpoint
SOUTHAMPTON to Weymouth, Round The Isle of Wight and east to Newhaven WEYMOUTH to Start Point PLYMOUTH to Exeter or The Lizard GLASGOW CAMPBELTOWN inside line from Campbeltown Loch to Turnberry and to Stranraer along the west coast of the mainland to Mull of Kintyre via Sanda Island to Port Ellen or Gigha to Red Bay or Ballycastle
“W A V E R L E Y” P a s s e n g e r (2001)
Class III not more than 18 miles offshore nor more than 70 miles from departure point LIVERPOOL FLEETWOOD HOLYHEAD LONDON to to Rhyl, Llandudno and Holyhead but not west of Beaumaris to Fleetwood, Heysham and Barrow to Heysham, Barrow and Whitehaven to Llanddwyn Isles Newhaven West to Worthing, Ryde, St Catherine’s and Needles or East to Folkestone, Dover and Ramsgate Ramsgate to Southend or Clacton Harwich to Clacton or Orfordness 76
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 ABERYSTWYTH to Bardsey Island in the north and St David’s Head in the south and excursions to Ilfracombe and Padstow and between Padstow and Lundy Island Class IV CARDIFF LIVERPOOL Aif CLACTON in Class D water at east end of Bristol within line from Formby Point to Point of to Reculver
BELFAST LOUGH within line between Carrickfergus and Bangor SOUTHAMPTON or PORTSMOUTH
inside The Isle of Wight, bounded by the spire at West Wittering to Trinity Church, Bembridge to the east and The Needles and Hurst Pt. GLASGOW inside line from Skipness to 1 mile south of Garroch Head to Farland Point STRANRAER inside Loch Ryan to line between Finnart’s Point and Milleur Point KYLE OF LOCHALSH to head of Loch Duich OBAN to 1 mile off line between Dunollie Point and Ard Na Chruidh and line in the south from Rudha Seanach to Ard Na Cuille GREENOCK Class V LIVERPOOL LONDON HARWICH above Rock Light above a north - south line through Denton Pier, Gravesend within 1 mile from Blackmans Head, Blackwater to Landguard Point NOTE
Ardlamont Point to southern extreme of Ettrick Bay and inside The Kyles of Bute also ( between 2001 ) June 5, 2001 and Sep 5,
within a line drawn 2 miles off the Ayrshire Coast at Skelmorlie Castle to Tomont End , Cumbrae and a line drawn from Portachur Point, Cumbrae to Green Point, Ayrshire to Helensburgh, Kilcreggan and Dunoon, within a line drawn between Dunoon and Cloch Point. Class III = 484 pass Class IV = 860 pass Class V = 925 pass Crew = 15 / 19 2 boats for 12 persons each; 24 liferafts for 24 persons each ( 480 persons ); 1,048 lifejackets including 95 for under 32 kg.
CARLINGFORD LOUGH within line between Greenore and Greencastle Point STRANGFORD LOUGH not south of Rue Point BELFAST LOUGH within a line from Holywood to Macedon Point 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 77
ARGYLL COUNTY COUNCIL OPERATED FERRIES
Fionnphort - Iona Ulva Ferry Corran - Ardgour Ballachulish Ferry Port Appin - Lismore Shian Ferry, Loch Creran 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 16 “Capri Express”, “Ala”, 119 119 “City of Corfu”, “Ali Cat”, 119 104 “City of Piraeus”, “Amethyst”, HMS, 119 6 “Columba (I)”, “Ashton”, 120 13 “Comet”, 63 “Balmoral”, “Countess of 120 Breadalbane”, 13 “Boer”, “Countess of Kempock”, 7 13 “Cumbrae”, pilot cutter, “Caledonia”, 23 119 “Calvin B. Marshall”, “Dalmarnock”, 78
Ardpatrick, West Loch Tarbert Blair's Ferry, Bute - Ardlamont Colintraive Ferry Couslan - Inverchaolain, Loch Striven Lazaretto ( White Farlane Point ) - Kilmun Hunter's Quay - Strone Ardentinny - Coulport Gigha - Tayinloan Lagg (Jura) - Keills Feolin (Jura) - Port Askaig (Islay)
41 “Dalmuir”, 41 “Dasher”, 36 “Denbigh”, 122 “Duchess of Fife”, 4 “Duchess of Hamilton”, 34, 118 “Duchess of Montrose”, 31, 34 “Dumbarton Castle”, 60, 74 “Dyarchy”, 41 “Empress of Scotland”,
4 “Endeavour”, 44 “Faithful”, 7 “Gantock”, pilot cutter, 23 “Garroch Head”, 41 “Gay Queen”, 16 “Gleaner”, HMS, 36 “Glen Sannox (III)”, 119 “Gourockian”, 13
“Hebridean Princess”, 113 “Highland Seabird”, 103 “Hispaniola (II)”, 11, 118 “Inca”, 7 “Jeanie Deans”, 11 “Jennie Spears”, 27 “Kempock Lad”, 11, 44 “Keppel”, 119 “King Edward”, 84 “King George V”, 119 “Knooz”, 119 “Lady Guildford”, 17 “Lady Jane Ritchie”, 10 “Lochfyne”, 13 “Maid of Argyll”, 56, 119 “Maid of Ashton”, 118, 119 “Maid of Bute”,
17 “Maid of Cumbrae”, 79, 119 “Maid of Skelmorlie”, 119 “Maid of The Loch”, 13 “Maids”, 12 “Marchioness of Lorne”, 5 “Nathaniel G. Dunlop”, pilot cutter, 23 “Norman”, 6 “Old Caledonia”, 119 “Port Star”, 11 “Prince Ivanhoe”, 120 “Princess Margaret”, 34 “Princess Victoria”, 27 “Queen Alexandra (I)”, 88 “Queen Mary II”, 118 “Queen Mary”, 119 “Roman”, 6 “Rose”, 79
119 “Royal Daffodil”, 34 “Saint Columba”, 53 “Saxon”, 6 “Shanklin”, 120
“Talisman”, 8, 44 “Titanic”, 30 “Turbinia”, 57, 83 “U-33”, 36 “Valkyrie”, 4 “Vital Spark”, 6 “Waverley (IV)”, 120 “Westering Home”, 13
Addison, John, 7 Ailsa Craig, 37, 38 Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, 22 Ardrishaig, 120 Argyll County Council Ferries, 125 August 1912, 42 Ayr, 120 ‘Banana Boats’, 41 Barometric pressure, 73 Beached, 120 Better sea-boat, 36 Blasco de Garay, 57 Blue, Archie, engineer, 12 ‘Blue’ trains, 15 Boat Trains and Connections,
47 Boiler, 70, 72 Boulton & Watt, 59 Bow Rudders, 80 Breakfast, Luncheon, Dinner & Tea, 39 Broken up, 120 Burgh Chamberlain, Cove and Kilcreggan Town Council, 11 Buses, 6 Butlin’s, 55 CalMac, 119 Campbeltown, 120 Campbeltown - Ireland car ferry service, 105 Campbeltown/Ballycastle ferry figures, 111 “Captain Pugwash”, 8 Car Ferries, 12 Cardiff, 119 Carron Ironworks, 59 Catamaran,
100 Certificated passenger numbers, 30 Chatham, 118 Chinese chips, 50 Christmas and New Year Days, 41 Christmas tree, 41 City Cruises of London, 119 Cloch and Cumbrae Head lighthouses, 25 Clyde Coast Services Ltd., 6 Clyde Pilots, 23 Coastal Steam Packet Company, 12 Coia brothers, 24 Commentary books, 37 Condenser, 59, 72 Conversion work, 119 Cross-trees, 80 ‘Cumbrae Model Railway’, 24 Cunard, 118 Cut-off valve, 57 80
Dale, Tom, chief purser, 37 Day Sea Rover, 2 Day Trips and Cruises, 46 Docking Telegraphs’, 79 Drag, 66 Drains, 73 Drying-out, 4 Dunoon, 120 Early Memories, 4 Eccentric crank, 57 Edmondson, Thomas, ticket machines, 28 End of regular steamers, 11 8 Engine Controls, 74 Engine gauge readings, 73 Engine Room Telegraph(s), 76 Engine(s), 73 English Electric motor, 45 Espionage agents, 24
Ettrick Bay, 42 Euroyachts Ltd, 11 8 Fair Head, 120 Fairfield’s apprentices, 5 Fairfield’s yard, 5 Farmers’ Rules, 29 Ferries, Argyll County Council, 125 Ferry Good Idea, 104 Fire, 119 First Commercial Passenger Turbine Steamer, 5 First intentional reversing of a marine engine, 74 Fixed and Variable operating costs, 11 0 ‘Flick books’, 24 Floating restaurant, 118 Flywheel, 57 Fog, 42 Fuel Burning System, 71
Fulton, Robert, 61 Gauges, Steam and Engine, 75 “Genevieve”, film, 7 George Prior’s yard, 119 German invasion, 34 Gigha, 119 Glasgow Numerical Printing Company, 28 Glasgow’s Anderston Quay, 120 Glasgow’s Stobcross Quay, 120 Gollings, Frank, 6 Good Spirits”, 40 Gourock, 120 Gourock to Dunoon, 10 Gower Coast, 120 Green, Hughie and Monica Rose, 101 Greenock Academy, 11 Greenock’s East India Harbour, 118 Gregg, Hubert, 7 Guided Tour,
31 Hall Russell, Aberdeen, 119 Hammerman’s Guild, 58 Hero of Alexandria, 57 High Tea, 39 Highland Games, 44 Horse Power, 66 Horse power, different types, 68 Hostesses, 37 Hovercraft, 100 Hull inspection, 119 Hungerford Bridge, London, 118 Inveraray, 24 Iona ‘Sunday Breaker’, 21 Ipswich, 119 Irish Ferry timetable proposals, 107 J.C.B. digger, 13 James Watt, 58 Jet propulsion, 81
61 Keppel for Millport, 27 Knox, John of Rothesay, 17 Lady Friends, 10 Lamont’s dry-dock, 118 Largs - Millport ferry, 119 Largs’ Boats, 27 Laurent Giles, 41 Licensing Laws, 20 Lifeboat building, 30 Lifeboats, 30 Life-jackets, 30 Livingstone, Dr. David, 122 Livingstone’s hut, replica of, 122 London, 119 London Eye/Millennium Wheel, 110 Long Beach, 118 M’Callum, John, mate, 22 MacBrayne’s,
120 Mackendrick, Alexander, 8 Mail Boats, 44 Malta’s Valetta Harbour,
11 9 Manoeuvres, 53 Marconi, 54 Maternal grand-father, 36 McIntyre’s, Peter, 17 Mediterranean, 119 Mid-Saturday Morning, Gourock, 13 Millennium Dome, 110 Millport Illuminations, 50 Montclare”, 16 Morse Code, 33 Mount Stuart House, 17 “Murder She Wrote”, theme music, 7 Music Lessons, 6 Newcastle’s Science Museum, 83 Newcomen, Thomas,
57 P. & A. Campbell, 55 Paddle float, 68 Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, 120 Paddle Wheel Floats and Shafts, 81 Paddle Wheels, 66, 81 Paddle-wheels, 68 ‘Page 3’ girl, 5 Paisley Harbour, 56 Papin, Denys, 57 “Para Handy”, 6 Paraffin’ Young at Kelly House, 122 Parallel motion, 57 Pearson’s Garage, 15 Pentland Ferries, 112 Pier Signals, 15 Pilgrim ship, 119 Pilkington Glass, 41 Portpatrick lifeboat, 27, 34
Portsmouth, 120 Propellors, 118 Puffer on Subway, 7 Puffers, 70
18 Royal Route, 120 ‘Rum’ and ‘The Dugs’, 22 Ryde, 120 Saturday Marathon, 9 School Tripping, 48 Schooner-rigged, motor yacht, 27 Scottish Licensing Act, 1976, 20 Ship Handling Principles, 76 “Ship Steward’s Training Manual”, 18 Shipyard strike, 5 Singer’s Sewing Machine factory, 9 Skelmorlie Bowling Club, 4 Skelmorlie Measured Mile, 24 “Smallest Bar on The Clyde”, 13 Smoking Stacks, 58 South Portland Suspension Bridge, 7 Spanish Inquisition, 57 Stanley, Henry Morton, 121 Starting Steam Lever, 82
Radar, 18, 42 Radio, 18, 33 Railway and Farmers’ Rules, 29 Rathlin Island, 120 Red Bay, 120 Red Sea, 119 Regulating Throttle’, 74 Ritchie Brothers, 11, 44 Ritchie, Walter Roy, 13 Ross & Marshall, 7 Rothesay, 52 Rothesay Pier Fire, 17 Rothesay to Gourock, 18 Rothesay’s Berths and Boat Operators, 16 Rothesay’s secondary school,
75 Steam and Engines, 57 Steam carriage, 59 Steam engine, basic parts, 69 Steam engines, 68 Steam heating, 71 Steam Whistles, 82 Steamboat Pioneers, 60 Steamer Bands, 23 Steamer Commentaries, 37 Stranraer, 34 Submarine, 120 Submerged reef, 120 ‘Sunday-breaker’ trip, 20 Tarbert, 120 Tayinloan, 119 Telegraph orders, 51 Telegraph(s), 76 Telegraphs, 80 Teletext Weather
99 Texas Institute of Naval Archaeology, 121 ‘The Bun Run’ to Craigendoran, 11 ‘The Crossing Rule’, 22 “The Cruel Sea”, 6
‘The Narrows’, 53
73 Viking Cinema, Largs, 6 Water density, 79 Water Feed System, 72 Water pressure, 67 Water temperatures, 72 Watt, James, 58 “Waverley” Passenger Certificates, 123 Weather, 96 Wee Cumbrae, 27, 43 Wemyss Bay Arrivals and Departures, 15 West ‘Yacht’ Channel, 53 Wetted surface area, 67 Wheel speed, 67 Wheelhouse, 33
Tickets, 29 Tides,
90 Total loss, 119 Tourist trading patterns, 107 Tourist traffic figures, 107 Troops, 34 Turbine Steamers, 82 Turbines, 80 Twin-Screw Turnarounds, 55 Twin-Screws, 80 Under-shot mill wheels, 67 Vacuum, 73 Valves and drains,
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