Thursday, 27 May 2010

Waverley in Loch Linnhe Sunday 31st May 2009

Waverley acknowledges Lord of the Glens
as the two ships pass on a tranquil Loch Linnhe

Surrounded by magnificent scenery

Heading for a very busy day at Oban

Only 3 of many thousand photos taken of Waverley during 2009,
but certainly 3 of the best!
Hopefully these photographs will encourage a few more to support Waverley,
during her weekend in Oban, 2010.

Waverley had a great weekend in the Western Isles last year, based at Oban, and Sunday 31st May provided idyllic conditions for sailing on the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer, especially the morning and evening legs in Loch Linnhe.  This wee story, and the photographs above, is intended to whet the appetite for the approaching Western Isles weekend

Robin Copland is a very affable character with a great love for Waverley, an in-depth knowledge of Malt Whiskies (and regularly checks that things are how he remembers them!) and a passion for the sport of Curling.  In his younger years he also had “a thing” for Duchesses – of the turbine variety - which he sailed on regularly during his family summer holidays in Largs.  I grew up in Largs but our paths never crossed during his visits there.  I currently live within a few hundred yards of where he grew up in Glasgow, and I now regularly shop on the site of where he often went Curling in his youth, but Robin is long gone to a big city in the east.

I got to know Robin in recent years through the Clydesite website for shipping enthusiasts, where Robin originally posted the following photos.  I think these lovely photos should be seen by a much wider audience of Waverley enthusiasts and supporters and Robin has very kindly agreed to me putting them on this blogsite. 

From conversation with Robin on the way to Oban last year, and having enjoyed his travelogue stories on Clydesite, the background to how these photos ended up being taken at all, make them all the more special and I’m sure Robin will look back over his 2009 West Highland adventure in years to come with a sense of satisfaction and achievement.  However, with due respect to Robin, who may by now be considering book offers and film rights for the full story, I’ve tried to condense some of the more pertinent points into the summary below, around that wonderful little word ....IF.

IF we had not met through Clydesite the story would never begin
IF Waverley had visited Oban on her original planned dates Robin would not have been there due to work commitments
IF Calmac’s Clansman did not have technical problems during that particular weekend when Waverley did go to Oban, there would have been no disruption to services, which impacted significantly on Robin’s plans, but added to the adventure!
IF Robin was not fortunate enough to have a brother as Manager on a certain west coast luxury cruise ship he would not have had a bed for the night alongside Craignure pier, after Waverley’s arrival at Oban, and he most certainly would not have been in the right place at the right time for the photographs.
IF Robin’s brother had not left his bicycle at the Craignure Calmac office for Robin to use, after his visit to Iona on the Saturday, he would have missed out on one of life’s great “adventures”.
IF Robin’s heart, lungs and legs had not held out, he would never have managed to cycle the 6 miles from Craignure to Fishnish in 24 mins.  Some of those who sampled Waverley’s range of malt whiskeys with him on the way to Oban may be a little more pointed in their comments but suffice is to say that Robin doesn’t look like a man who regularly achieves and maintains 15 mph on a push-bike!!
IF the last ferry from Craignure to Oban had not been cancelled on this day, he might have found the return 6 miles on the bike too big a challenge.
IF he was not the friendly and sociable character that he is, he may not have chatted with the Calmac crew on the Loch Fyne and found out that his onward transport to his floating bed alongside Oban pier had been cancelled.
IF he had not met a friendly bus driver called Alex on board the Loch Fyne – with an empty bus and boot – who just happened to be going back the long way around to Oban, Robin might still be somewhere on that road from Lochaline to Oban.
IF the Calmac timetable and ship rotas had been back to normal on the Sunday morning, he would have taken a trip to Coll on board Lord of the Isles and missed this great photographic opportunity.   
IF his brother was not working on Lord of the Glens, he would not have been sailing serenely up Loch Linnhe on board her on the Sunday morning, as Waverley steamed down from Fort William

The story continues after the photographs with calls at Corpach, travels on the West Highland Line, a drunk Irish girl on the train home to Edinburgh etc, etc but that is probably all best left for “the book” , when it comes!

Many thanks Robin, for sharing your travels, your experiences and your photographs and a very special thanks for being a great sport and letting me be selective about which of your own words I used to tell the story.

Charles McCrossan

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Waverley goes for a paddle!

With just a week to go to the start of the 2010 season, Waverley sailed downriver from Glasgow to the mouth of Loch Long on Friday 21st May. Some photos from her afternoon out are below. Hopefully the trip to and around Oban, next weekend, will get similar glorious weather, apart from the mist on the lower firth which impeded shots of her around Loch Long.

 Waverley approaches Braehead 

Heading down past BAE Scotstoun yard
(I liked the wiggly funnel reflection in this photo!)

 Off Helensburgh 1
(I assume this was setting the compass time)

 Off Helensburgh 2

Off Helensburgh 3
(Note difference in toilet window arrangements between Port and Starboard)
Off Helensburgh 4
Off Roseneath and now heading for Loch Long

After several circuits off the mouth of Loch Long in the mist,
Waverley heads for home past Kilcreggan pier

Here's hoping for great weather and a great 2010 season 
for this grand old lady, who continues to battle the odds

Charles McCrossan

Saturday, 15 May 2010

A Sad Day on the Tyne - and the Clyde

The following short video represents the end of yet another era - when the final cranes and the floating drydock from the River Tyne's last shipyard, Swan's at Wallsend, were shipped out to a new yard in India aboard the heavy lift ship Osprey. The floating drydock was shipped on the Osprey's deck with the cranes fixed to its deck.

The crane jib nearest Osprey's bow belongs to Swan Hunter's floating crane 'Titan III', once a very familiar sight along the Tyne when, like the Clyde, it was lined with shipyards, from Elswick to North Shields. Remarkably, there is also a part of Clyde shipbuilding on the departing vessel. The last crane - nearest Osprey's bridge - was originally built in early 1960s by the famous Glasgow structural engineering company Sir William Arrol & Co for the substantially modernised Clydeholm shipyard of Barclay Curle & Co at Whiteinch in Glasgow. Despite such large investments and modernisation the Clydeholm yard closed only 3-4 years later and the nearly new Arrol cranes were transferred to Swan Hunter's Neptune shipyard at Wallsend (Barclay Curle had been a subsidiary of Swan's since the 1920s). Remarkably, one of those cranes is now in its third shipyard - in India! Surely none of the Arrol workers that built it in the crane works at Nuneaton Street in the east end of Glasgow half a century ago could have predicted that it would have such a remarkable career. Undoubtedly Waverley sailed past this crane during its early years on the Clyde and again nearly 30 years later when the paddler made several visits to Tyneside in the early 1980s. I doubt that they will meet again!

Stuart Cameron

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Waverley's Birthplace Reborn

In just over a year from now the new £85m Riverside Museum that will replace the Glasgow Transport Museum and be expanded to tell the story of the city's industrial heritage will be opening its doors for the first time. The new museum is being constructed on the site of the former A & J Inglis Pointhouse shipyard where the River Kelvin flows into the River Clyde. The Inglis firm occupied the site for just over 100 years up to its closure in 1963. In that time over 500 ships were built in the Pointhouse shipyard including the British Royal Yacht Alexandria in 1907, the paddle steamer Waverley and the Loch Lomond paddle steamers, including the preserved Maid of the Loch. Inglis built a large variety of vessels including small ocean liners for the British India Steam Navigation Co, destroyers and frigates for the Royal Navy, train ferries for the Entre Rios Railway in South America and the Mihanovich paddle steamer fleet on the River Plate - to name but a few. The following picture shows a view of the shipyard offices and workshops looking north from the Clyde. The river side facade of the new museum is on virtuually the same location as was the river side frontage of Inglis yard.

A registered charity is raising £5m to go alongside the £74m commited to the project by the City of Glasgow Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The chairman of the Riverside Museum Appeal is Maryhill-born the Rt Hon Baron Smith of Kelvin (see biography below)  Another trustee is broadcaster Carole Smillie and she and Lord Smith outline the massive project on several videos most of which are now available on YouTube.

The Riverside Museum will contain over 3000 exhibits, more than double that on show at the old Museum of Transport in the Kelvin Hall, which closed last month to allow transfer of items to the new site to begin. They should include a significantly increased number of the 700+ Clydebuilt ship model collection than the 200 or so that could be exhibited in the Kelvin Hall.

Rt Hon Baron Smith of Kelvin

Robert Smith was born and raised in the Maryhill district of Glasgow. In addition to his chairmanship of the Riverside Museum Appeal he is currently Chairman of The Weir Group plc and Scottish and Southern Energy and a non-Executive Director of 3i Group plc, Standard Bank Group Limited, and Aegon UK plc. He is also Patron of the Scottish Community Foundation. In 2008, Lord Smith was appointed as Chair of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games organising company. He is also the Chancellor of the University of the West of Scotland. During a long and distinguished career Lord Smith has previously served as a Governor of the BBC, Chairman and CEO with Morgan Grenfell Private Equity, CEO of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management and was Vice Chairman of Deutsche Asset Management between 2000 and 2002. He has held various positions as director of, MFI Furniture Group plc, Stakis plc (of which he was also Chairman from 1998 to 1999), the Bank of Scotland, Tip Europe plc and Network Rail. He was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland from 1993 until 2002. He is also President of the British Association of Friends of Museums, a position he has held since 1995, and was a member (1988-1998) and Vice Chairman (1996-1998) of the Museums and Galleries Commission. Lord Smith and the owner of the Island of Inchmarnock in the Kyles of Bute and of the small ferry Marnock and the reduced scale replica Clyde puffer Maryhill, both of which he commissioned from the Ardmaliesh Boatyard on the island of Bute. Marnock is used to ferry supplies between Inchmarnock and Bute while Maryhill is used by Lord and Lady Smith and their two daughters for leisure purposes.

Stuart Cameron