Thursday, 2 August 2012

200 Years of Clyde Paddle Steamers

In August 1812, two centuries ago, the River Clyde would see a transport revolution – one that would change the economy of the river for ever. A Helensburgh hotel owner began to operate Europe’s first ever commercial steam ship from Glasgow to Greenock. No longer would ships be dependent on the tide or the wind.

The Comet, as his ship was known, had been built by John Wood, of Port Glasgow, and was fitted with paddle wheels. Her first voyage from Glasgow to Greenock was made at about 5mph against a headwind. Advertised to sail on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Glasgow, the Comet operated the first scheduled steamship service in Europe.

It was the start of a revolution that would see the Clyde as the greatest shipbuilding river in the world, and the river’s estuary as a haven for pleasure steamers and puffers calling at the remote loch-side piers and inlets. Companies such as David MacBrayne’s and the Caledonian Steam Packet Co. would be formed to operate steamers far and wide, a legacy kept alive today by Paddle Steamer Waverley.

As Waverley marks the bicentenary of Paddle Steamer Coment with a special sialing on Friday 10th August Scottish Daily Mail Columnist John Macleod will be launching the new publication titled "200 Years of Clyde Paddle Steamers" by Alistair Deayton and Iain Quinn.

This new title takes us through the two centuries of Clyde paddle steamers, illustrating the most famous, such as the Columba, Jeanie Deans and Waverley, illustrating not just the ships themselves but the piers they sailed from, from Rothesay to Helensburgh and from Loch Goil to Loch Long.

On Friday 10th August Waverley sails from Glasgow at 1000 and Dunoon at 1210 for time ashore at Rothesay. On return she departs from Helensburgh at 1600 and Greenock at 1630 for an evening jazz cruise. She then makes her way back up river to Glasgow arriving at 1810 before departing once again at 1900 to continue the evening jazz cruise in celeabration of 200 years of steam navigation. Tickets can be booked at or by calling 0845 130 4647.

This title is published in paperback at 128 pages by Amberley Publishing priced at £14.99. More information is avilable from Alice Crick, email

Scottish Branch Committee