Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Stuart Cameron has provided a very comprehensive report below on Waverley's Saturday in the middle of the traditional Glasgow Fair holiday period. However, being on board, it was a bit difficult for him to capture Waverley arriving back at the Science Centre on Saturday evening so just to complete his story board, I've added this image in for information.
First signs that the nights are fair "drawing in" again, already, as Waverley arrives at 20:42
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
The middle weekend of Glasgow Fair, being also the weekend of the Glasgow River Festival and the annual Lifeboat Day at Tighnabruaich, turned out to be a very busy period for the paddler. On the Friday, the popular daytime cruise to Rothesay was followed by a very successful and enjoyable evening cruise with over 700 passengers aboard. Next day, the first day of the River Festival, Waverley departed from her base at the Glasgow Science Centre on her normal Saturday sailing to Tighnabruaich. The very low level of the tide was notable and it was amazing to see that the River Kelvin, where the paddler had first entered the water in 1946, was almost totally dried out. At Greenock the paddler met up with the huge modern cruise vessel Crown Princess which had arrived at the Ocean Terminal earlier that morning
Crown Princess at Greenock Ocean Terminal as viewed from Waverley on her outward sailing.
After further good passenger pick ups at Greenock and Helensburgh Waverley arrived at Dunoon with over 800 passengers on board. Even though there was a significant disembarkation of passengers at the popular resort there was also a very impressive queue of joining passengers including a big party of ‘Stone Age People’ such that the paddler left for Rothesay with around 790 on board.
Fred Flinstone and Barny Rubble join the paddler at Dunoon
Waverley arrived at Tighnabruaich when the annual Lifeboat Day was in full swing. An ever popular feature of the event, staged to raise funds for the local Royal National Lifeboat Institution, is the raft race from the lifeboat station to the pier, timed to conclude just as the paddler arrived. Captain Andy O’Brian of the Waverley presented the prizes to the winners of the various levels of the competition, a nice gesture much appreciated by the people of the Kyles of Bute communities.Waverley provides a fitting traditional backdrop for the Tighnabruaich Lifeboat Day raft race. The Duck Raft was winner of one of the categories. Waverley Steam and PSPS members are always keen to support this event and its quest to raise funds for the local RNLI station
The year 2009 marks the 50th Anniversary of the foundation of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (and coincidentally the 40th Anniversary of the Scottish Branch) so it was great to have the Founder of the Society, Professor Alan Robinson, aboard Waverley on the Clyde at this significant time in the Society’s proud history. In the picture below Professor Robinson is enjoying the summer sunshine at Tighnabruaich just prior to the paddler’s departure for the return voyage.
Two viewa of Waverley at Tighnabruaich on Lifeboat Day when the tide was very high - in stark contrast to the previous week when the the water's edge was just behind the pierhead
Yhe heavy passenger loadings combined with both outbound and inbound passages on the river being against a strong tidal condition resulted in the paddler running slightly late on the run back up to Glasgow. This resulted in Waverley arriving back at Greenock just as the Crown Princess was due to depart and the two vessels exchanged salutes with blasts on their whistles.
Viewed from Waverley, Crown Princess departs from Greenock Ocean Terminal
A more distant view of the departing Crown Princess about to round Cloch Point, from Waverley off Port Glasgow
As Waverley departed Greenock, the ship enthusiasts aboard had a chance for a quick look at Clyde Marine’s new passenger catamaran Clyde Clipper, which had only arrived from her builders on the Bristol Channel earlier that day. Some reflected on the reversal of roles. In the heyday of passenger ship sailings on the Channel many of the steamers employed on the sailings between England and Wales and out to Lundy were built in some of the famous Clyde shipyards. Now the latest passenger vessel for service on the Clyde was built in the Bristol Channel. It is believed that Clyde Clipper will enter service on the Clyde in the near future. Her arrival also marks the departure of two venerable vessels from the Greenock-based fleet – mv Kenilworth (originally one of the ‘Hotspur’ ferries on Southampton Water) and mv The Second Snark, a notable vessel in maritime history being constructed by the world renowned Dumbarton shipbuilders William Denny & Bros. After serving as her builder’s yard tender and tug, The Second Snark had played a significant role in the development of the famous Denny Brown ships stabilisers. After the closure of Denny’s in the 1960s the vessel had spent several years on the Forth, owned by Brown Brothers of the Rosebank Foundry in Edinburgh. That firm’s founder, Andrew Brown, had been a pioneer in the development of the hydraulic ship steering system, a classic example of which can still be found in operation on Waverley. Although the Rosebank Foundry is no longer in existence, Brown Brothers still operate as part of Rolls Royce Marine’s division at Dunfermline in Fife. The products still include stabiliser systems and aircraft carrier steam catapults, another of the firm’s inventions.
The newest Clyde passenger vessel, Clyde Marine's Clyde Clipper on her first day at her new 'home', Greenock Victoria Harbour.
A view from Waverley of Dunglass Castle, once the ancestral seat of a sept of the Clan Colquhoun. The obelisk monument was erected to the memory of the Helenburgh based hotelier and businessman Henry Bell, operator of the first Clyde paddle steamer, the Comet of 1812. Comet was also the first commercially operated steamship in Europe. Waverley, as the last Clyde paddle steamer is a direct descendant of the Comet and will, hopefully, form a central role in the significant anniversary - the bicentenary of European steamship operation - which willoccur in August 2012.
The fine view below, from the foredeck of the paddler as she came back upriver off Dalmuir shows the Clydebank Titan Crane, which would be the terminal point of her new River Festival Cruises the following day. Behind the crane can be seen the vast new building of the relocated Clydebank College campus which occupies the majority of the site of the the former east shipbuilding yard, originally set up by the firm of J & G Thomson when they moved down from their original Clyde Villa shipyard where the Glasgow Science Centre now stands. The most famous operators of the Clydebank shipyard was undoubtedly the John Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company. Latterly the yard was operated by the ill-fated Upper Clyde Shipbuilders before converting to an offshore structure construction site operated by Marathon Manufacturing and, ultimately, UIE (Scotland) td. The historic yard finally closed in the mid 1990s. From its 120 year history the list of ships built there almost reads as a list of the world's most innovative and famous vessels - the Inman liners City of Paris and City of New York, the Cunarder's Lusitania, Aquitania (surely the world's most beautiful ship ever!), Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Coronia, Queen Elizabeth 2, the former Royal Yacht Britannia, the battlecruiser HMS Hood and Britain's last battleship HMS Vanguard the beautiful (but financially ruinous) liner Kungsholm, (currently, as Mona Lisa, the last operational Clyde-built ocean liner - but not for much longer we suspect) - to name but a few!! On the right in the background, the large yellow doors mark the former Elderlie Dockyard, created by John Shearer in 1907 to replace his Kelvinhaugh Slipdock. Elderslie Dockyard was operated successively by Barclay Curle, Yarrows, GEC Marconi, BAE Systems and, currently, by BVT Surface Fleet. The superstructure of the second and third Type 45 destroyers, HMS Dauntless and HMS Diamond can just be made out in the Dockyard. The low lying farmland on the south bank of the river is Newshot Isle, which was a real island in the Clyde until the old south channel of the river silted up well over a century ago. At low water the remains of the burned out hulks of several ships that were destroyed in the Kingston Dock fire can be seen at west entrance to the old channel. The fire had started in the dock buildings and spread to the ships. The Kingston Dock (which was just upstream of the site of Glasgow's Kingston Bridge was destroyed but subsequently rebuilt. The burning sailing ships were towed down river and sunk at Newshort to prevent the fire from spreading further - a hazardous but ultimately succesful operation. In the 1960s the John Brown company had a grandiose plan to re-open the south channel for River traffic and construct a vast down-river facing shipbuilding dock in the existing river course (aheead of Waverley in the picture below). Needless to state, the plan did not come to fruition.
Upriver, the state of the tide made the view of the fifth Type 45 destroyer, the future HMS Defender, on the building ways at BVT’s Govan shipyard, even more impressive than usual.
For the first time since its inception several years ago, Waverley played a more central role in the second day of the Glasgow River Festival, operating three short non-landing sailings (at 1100, 1400 and 1630) from the centre of the festival to the historic Titan Crane at the former John Brown shipyard at Clydebank. Despite some inclement weather in the morning, resulting in a ‘late start’ in terms of attendee numbers, these short sailings on the paddler proved to be very popular. attracting approximately 1200 passengers in total. The following pictures depict the paddler at Glasgow and Clydebank during the two afternoon sailings - the first three views show her departing from her base at Plantation Quay, adjacent to Glasgow Science Centre.
Above, viewed from the east bank of the River Cart, Waverley returning upriver after canting at the Clydebank Titan crane on the second of her three Glasgow River Festival. On this sailing she carried around 500 passengers. The new Clydebank College dominates the background.
Above, viewed from the former John Brown east shipyard, the paddler, on the final of her three Glasgow - Clydebank sailings approaches the mouth of Brown's fitting out basin, which is now too silted up for ships to enter!
Above and below, Waverley cants in the river off the site of Brown's West yard. She has probably never undertaken this manoeuvre before but it invoked some memories of a similar operation performed by her former fleetmate, the paddle steamer Caledonia, just a little further upriver at the Rothesay Dock entrance during her special sailing to view the launch of the liner QE2 inSeptember 1967.
Returning upriver on the final leg of her succesful festival sailings.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Sunday 19th July 2009 at 09:06AM - Loch Lomond Seaplane's Cessna 200 G-MDJE passing HMS Defender as it departs for another short flight to Oban
Six minutes later:-
Sunday 19th July 2009 at 09:12AM - Waverley passing HMS Defender on a special Glasgow Fair weekend sailing along the entire navigable length of the River and Firth of Clyde from Glasgow to Campbeltown.
As ever the Scottish Branch will have a stand at the festival located in front of the Crowne Plazza Hotel just across from Bells Bridge.
On Sunday this year we are pleased to announce that Waverley will also be present and will be giving short sailings between her berth at Glasgow Science Centre and Clydebank. These sailings are non landing return and will be approx 75mins in length and will cost £10 for every adult. Every adult ticket bought permits one child to sail free!
When she is not sailing the ship will be open for the public to come aboard and have a look round.
More information on this and the rest of the festival can be found at the official festival website.
Monday, 13 July 2009
Refunds will be available from points of purchase at:
Waverley Excursions Limited, 0845 130 4647
Tickets Scotland 0870 220 1116
Celtic Radio 0141 548 3397
Thanks to all who did support the venture and apologies for any inconvenience caused by the cancellation.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
The location of the new Museum is of particular relevance to the Waverley as it covers the site occupied by the Pointhouse shipyard of A&J Inglis, the builders of Waverley in the years 1945-47. The Inglis firm built over 500 vessels in the period of a century from 1862 to 1963. These included many paddle steamers for Waverley's original owners, large paddler's for the River Plate fleet of Mihanovich, many small ocean liners for the British India Steam Navigation Company and the British Royal Yacht Alexandra in 1907. As a mark of Inglis' prowess it is noted that they were the first company company to be licenced by the Parsons company to manufacture its pioneering marine steam turbines. The view below, looking east and astern of Waverley shows the frontage of the new Riverside Museum on Pointhouse Quay - it was from the now green bank of the River Kelvin to the left of the new building that the new paddle steamer Waverley was launched into her natural element on the 2nd of October, 1946. Few then could have predicted that the ship would still be sailing past that site 63 years later.
After another couple of minutes Waverley passes a working shipyard with a 140 year old history.
The view from Waverley of the future HMS Defender under construction at the historic Fairfield shipyard - she is the 756th ship built there.
It is one of 3 remaining shipbuilding yards on the river (in the period from the early 18th Century to date over 400 shipbuilding firms in approximately 60 locations on the Clyde have engaged in building over 25,000 vessels of all types and sizes - details of many of these ships can be found at the Clydebuilt Ship Database). It is now operated by BVT Surface Fleet (a subsidiary of BAE Systems), which also owns yards at Scotstoun in Glasgow and Portsmouth. This Govan shipyard (at one time there was 5 yards in Govan, which existed as a seperate burgh outside the City of Glasgow until 1915) was originally planned and laid out by a renowned engineer and shipbuilder, Mr John Elder, inventor of the compound expansion steam engine amongst other important engineering equipment. After an apprenticeship with the legendary Robert Napier (the Father of Clyde Shipbuilding), Elder became the junior partner in the firm of Randolph & Elder, which produced marine steam engines in workshops in the Tradeston District of the city. After their entry into shipbuilding and corresponding with Mr Charles Randolph's retirement from the business, John Elder acquired the Fairfield Farm, to the west of Govan, and set out a state-of-the-art shipbuilding yard in the mid 1860s. Elder was from an influential marine family - his father, David Elder, was Robert Napier's long term, trusted foreman and right hand man and one of his brothers was a co-founder of the once famous Liverpool based shipping company, Elder Dempster. Elder was at the pinnacle of his career in the 1860s and, although only in his 40s, his fame had spread throughout the UK and much further afield. In the early part of 1869, with his new shipyard at Govan complete, John Elder accepted the post of President of the Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland (an august body whose members can still be found in lands far beyond the bounds of Scotland). One of the founders of the IESS was the world renowned Professor W J MacQuorn Rankine, professor of engineering at Glasgow University and co-founder of the science of thermodynamics, which was so vital to the development the steam engine. Sadly, when John Elder was at the start of a new chapter of his career, which would no doubt have brought about may new developments in marine engineering, he died suddenly during a business trip to London. His untimely demise came before his much anticipated Presidential Address to the IESS. To fill such an enormous gap the IESS requested that Professor MacQuorn Rankine serve in an unprecedented second term as President. For the next few years the 'Fairfield Shipyard' was run by Elder's capable and inspiring wife Isabella. She renamed the company 'John Elder & Co' and, in his memory, made a significant financial contribution to Glasgow University to establish there the first academic chair of naval architecture in the world. The Elder Chair of Naval Architecture at Glasgow remains active to this day as the world's oldest in the discipline. The Company owning the Fairfield shipyard was renamed The Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company in 1886 and under that title became world renowned as the builders of everything from esturial paddle steamers (e.g. Jeanie Deans and Cardiff Queen) to ocean liners (e.g. Campania, Empress of Russia and the first and third Empress of Britain - the latter ship only being consigned to the scrapyards of Alang earlier this year), aircraft carriers and battleships (e.g. HMS Implacable and HMS Howe). At one point the Fairfield company was part of the Port Glasgow-based Lithgow shipbuilding group, then the world's largest privately owned shipbuilding conglomerate. Since the 1960s the Fairfield yard has been operated succesively by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd, Govan Shipbuilders, Kvaerner Govan Ltd, BAE Systems and BVT. It is presently the main site for the assembly of the Royal Navy's new Type 45 Destroyers. During Waverley's 2009 summer season the fifth of the class, HMS Defender, and the bow section of the final ship (HMS Duncan) can be seen from the paddler's deck. Also during the second week of Waverley's Clyde season the first of the 80,000 tonnes of steel for the two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales was cut at Govan by a laser cutting machine initiated by HRH the Princess Royal. The first two pictures show the view from Waverley's deck of the future HMS Defender which will be launched into the Clyde in October 2009. HMS Defender, the fifth Type 45 Destroyer to be built for the Royal Navy - when commisioned in 2011 she will be affiliated with the City of Glasgow
The third picture (below) shows Defender and the bow section of the future HMS Duncan which will move onto the building berth after Defender's launch. The other sections of Duncan are being assembled in the Ship Module Hall in the background. Duncan is the 87th destroyer to be built at the Fairfield shipyard, the first being HMS Edgar in 1890.The decks of Waverley offer one of the best platforms to view these world class warships under construction on the Clyde.
Not long after leaving the Govan yard astern Waverley passes Shieldhall Quay, one of very few regular working quays left in the old port of Glasgow. Despite reduction of dredging on the river Shieldhall is still capable of handling ships of over 200 metres length although generally only partly laden. Regular shipments from Shieldhall Quay include significant quatities of scrap steel to feed the funaces of the busy steel producing mills of our EU partners - sadly Scotland, where significant pioneers in the steel making industry (e.g. J B Neilson) made there mark on the world, no longer possesses a steel making industry that can utilise this resource. Imports to Shieldhall include animal feed materials and road salt. The adjacent King George V dock, the last of the Clyde Navigation Trusts's 6 off river docks to be built, is now used very sparingly - at least in comparison with the 1960s when we could see the entire length of the dock's two long side quays lined with ships. The berth nearest the river on the west side of the dock is used occasionally for the export, or nowadays more likely the import, of large engineering items. Most recently this berth was used for the import of the 140 plus wind turbines that constitute Scottish Power's Whitehill wind power generating site near Eaglesham. The picture below is of a rather unusual visitor to Shieldhall, the RRS (Royal Research Ship) Discovery which is owned by the British National Oceanography Centre and undertakes ground breaking research in the deep oceans of the world. Beyond the Discovery can be one of the few, capital investments made in the upper docks of the Clyde in recent years - two 100 tonnes capacity mobile cranes can be used at any of the Shieldhall Quay / KGV Dock berths.
Berthed astern of Discovery was the short sea cargo vessel Loodeep (below) , more representative of the type of ship that uses Shieldhall Quay these days. She was unloading animal feedstock . At Scotstoun on the north side of the River Clyde the third and fourth of the Type 45 destroyer fleet, HMS Diamond and HMS Dragon were occupying the No 3 and No 2 drydocks respectively of the former Elderslie Dockyard. The Elderslie Dockyard was built by the Clyde Shipbuilder and repairer John Shearer & Co in 1907. The Company had previously been in business at the Kelvinhaugh Slipdock at the east end of an area that was subsequently redeveloped as Yorkhill Quay (where the 'Tall Ship' Glenlee is now berthed). In 1907 the No 1 Drydock at Elderslie Dockyard became the 5th drydock on the upper Clyde, joining the Kelvin Drydock at D & W Henderson's Meadowside shipyard on the west bank of the river Kelvin opposite the Inglis shipyard and the Clyde Navigation Trust's three graving docks at Govan (all dating from the late 19th Century). Shearer's Elderslie Dockyard was later taken over by the Clyde shipbuilding firm of Barclay Curle & Co., which operated a large shipyard at Whiteinch, the adjacent North British (Diesel) Engine Works and a steam engine works adjacent to the North Rotunda of the old Harbour Tunnel in Finnieston. The No 2 and No 3 Drydocks at Elderslie were added in the 1930s and 1960s. Barclay Curle withdrew from shipbuilding in the mid 1960s but continued a major ship repair business at the Elderslie Dockyard until 1973. After Barclay Curle's demise the the Elderslie Dockyard was taken over by the shipbuilders Yarrow & Co, whose shipyard occupied an adjacent site just upriver. Yarrow had relocated to the Clyde from Poplar on the Thames on 1906. By the 1970s the firm was concentrating on warship construction. In the 1980s Yarrow's enclosed the No 1 drydock with a large building but its use has been limited in recent years. During the Type 45 destroyer building programme the No 2 drydock has been used conventionally for work on the undersides of each of the ships following their launch. In the following picture the future HMS Dragon can be seen in No 2 dock. Recently the No3 Drydock has been converted for use as a non-tidal wet dock for initial quayside engine trials of the fleet. At Scotstoun the destroyers are fitted out with their highly sophisticated weapon systems>
HMS Dragon fitting out in Elderslie Drydock No 2
It is less common for the paddler to encounter vessels travelling in the same direction. From early days of the Clyde steamers they had some dispensation to travel faster on the river thanother vessels in order to hold tight timetables. On the occasion depicted in the following pictures the paddler is seen catching up and passing the suction dredger W D Medway II just to the east of Dumbarton Rock. The dredger had obligingly moved over to the north side of the designated channel to let Waverley pass.
Waverley catching up on the dredger W D Medway II as he approached Dumbarton
Since the disposal of the Clyde Navigation Trust's large fleet of dredgers and attendant hopper barges, the much reduced frequency of dredging has been undertaken by contract suction dredgers. The Westminster Dredging Company's dredger W D Medway II has become a regular visitor to the river. In its natural state the River Clyde was much shallower than it is now and it was impossible for anythng but the smallest vessels to go upriver to Glasgow. Through many schemes the man-made canal, known locally as the Clyde Navigation, was created. One such scheme resulted in a large stone barrier, known as the Lang Dyke, being constructed along the south side of the dredged channel from Dunglass nearly to Cardross. it retained the considerable sandbanks in front o West Ferry and Langbank. Other deepening projects involved narrowing the channel in the Upper River. It was this work that led to an saying, once well known to Clydesiders but hardly ever heard nowadays - 'Glasgow made the Clyde and the Clyde made Glasgow' reflecting on how Glasgow created a Navigation on the shallow river and this development resulted in the industrial base of the city growing to globally important proportions.
Increasingly, in recent years, when Waverley has reached Greenock on her down river cruise she encounters a visiting passenger cruise ship at Greenock Ocean Terminal. On the occasion depicted below, it was the P&O cruise vessel Artemis that was berthed at the former Princes Pier.
It was not until the late 1970s that Waverley became a regular visitor to Helensburgh pier (although her original base (from 1947 until 1971) was nearby at the now derelict Craigendoran pier). In the past 3 decades, Helensburgh has become an important regular calling place for the paddler although lack of regular dredging can make the approach to the pier difficult. In recent times the local authority has sponsored the Helensburgh & District Pipe Band to play during the paddler's arrivals and departures.It is fairly commonplace nowadays to see a ship of the Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxillary, an alliance navy or enlisted merchant vessels at the NATO fuel oil terminal at the mouth of Loch Striven, below is a view of RFA Bayleaf at the quay in 2009.
At various times through the last century the tributary sea lochs of the Firth of Clyde have served as sheltered anchorages for redundant and laid up tonnage. The 'tradition' continued in the summer of 2009 when four members of the Maersk container ship fleet arrived for lay up in Loch Striven, victims of the global recession.
For some years, on one of her Saturday sailings to Tignabruaich, Waverley Excursions have made the ship available to the local pier Trust for a short cruise to enable them to raise funds for the continued preservation of the pier. The following views show the vessel departing and arriving back on the 2009 cruise.
Rarely, even in the heyday of the Clyde Steamers, could Tighnabruaich pier have been quite so busy - about 500 off and 300 on - twice in the space of an hour!
Monday, 6 July 2009
Repairs complete, Waverley prepares to leave James Watt Dock. The colourful vessel Kingdom of Fife was also receiving attention by the Garvel Drydock company,
Waverley canted within the James Watt Dock and headed out into the river with the assistance of the Clyde Marine tug Biter
After a quick turn the paddler heads upriver to resume her summer timetable service - we hope that Waverley will enjoy great support and success through the remainder of the 2009 season so that we can secure a sustainable future for this icon of the Clyde's maritime heritage.