Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Unterwalden Rebuild

As mentioned in the current winter issue of Paddle Wheels MPV Vevey has been withdrawn from service on Lake Geneva which leaves 5 operational paddle steamers on Lake Geneva. In 2011 there will once again be 5 operational paddle steamers on Lake Lucerne when Unterwalden re-enters service in the spring. Unterwalden last sailed in 2008 before entering a rebuild which has allowed her original boilers to be replaced in addition to restoring her external appearance more in keeping with the other paddlers of the fleet.
Of the 5 paddle steamers in the lake Lucerne fleet Unterwalden has had the most varied history. She was launched on 12th November 1901 and entered service on the 18th May 1902, she is the second oldest of the steamship fleet. It was in 1920 that she was fitted with a wheelhouse to protect the captains and helmsmen from the elements having had an open bridge when first built. On 30th October 1923 while sailing through thick fog in darkness she ran aground at Beckenried suffering considerable damage. She also sustained damage in February 1956 when she crashed into the lake wall at Kehrsiten Dorf.
By 1960 her boilers required attention and were re-tubed this also providing the opportunity to remodel the ship to allow her to pass under the new Acheregg Bridge. The masts, funnel and wheelhouse were replaced allowing the masts to fold with the funnel and wheelhouse being able to be lowered as required. The rear upper deck was given an aluminium roof in place of the former canvas one.  By the mid 1970’s her condition was giving cause for concern with plans made for her withdrawal from service to form an exhibit at the Swiss Transport Museum. In 1976 a newly built motor vessel was named Unterwalden and the paddle steamer Unterwalden made her last trip on the 22nd September 1977.  After a few years of laying in a poor condition a major rebuild began in 1982 lasting till 1985 when she was relaunched and the new motor vessel was renamed Europa.
By 2007 it was becoming clear that her original boilers had reached the end of their working lives and would have to be replaced. The current rebuild has replaced the two original boilers with one larger boiler. It has also allowed much of the superstructure and interiors to be restored to as much like their original pre-1961 state, as far as possible, while still allowing her to sail under the Acheregg Bridge.  The funnel, wheelhouse and masts will still be able to be lowered but the appearance of the funnel in particular will be more like the other members of the steamer fleet.
There will be a special parade of all 5 paddle steamers to mark the re-entry into service of Unterwalden on Saturday 14th May with a provisional departure time of 11:30 returning to Lucerne at 15:30.
The following pictures show Unterwalden prior to her rebuild. I have included a few interior pictures to allow some comparison to be made after she re-enters service. The first class saloon should be impressive as the neo-rococo carving is also being restored in addition to the parquet flooring.

Dressed overall during the 2008 steamer parade to celebrate 80 years of Stadt Luzern.

This shot shows the 1961 fitted wheelhouse and funnel. (April 2008)

At Alpnachstad in August 2004, note that one of the masts is left down for the return sailing.

The first class saloon looking forward.

First class saloon looking aft.

Looking forward into the second class saloon from the engine. As part of the rebuild a retractable bulkhead will be installed to once again separate the saloon from the engine area.

The upper deck dining area as it was in 2008.

An early season shot from 2008, note the snow on Pilatus.

Paul Semple

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Inglis Shipyard becomes the Riverside Museum

As 2010 enters its final fortnight we reflect that next year will see the opening of the new £80m Riverside Museum (of Transport and maritime heritage) on Pointhouse Quay at the confluence of the Rivers Clyde and Kelvin. The titanium and glass clad museum building occupies the site of a famous Glasgow shipyard, the Pointhouse yard, opened in 1863 by the brothers Anthony and John Inglis, who had peviously built marine engines and other engineering products at their works in Warroch Street, off Anderston Quay. Inglis shipyard at Pointhouse was in production for almost exactly a century,during which time the firm produced about 500 ships of a range in size and type that would, undoubtedly, surprise the huge number of international tourists that will visit the Riverside Museum in the next few years. They were, of course, well known as builders of paddle steamers including Waverley and Maid of the Loch, two of the few remaining Clyde-built ships of this type. However, Inglis paddle steamers could be found much further afield than the home market - they featured in the fleets of the Bay Steamers company of Melbourne, South Australia, the earltest Yangtse-river steamers of Swire's China Navigation Company and, prominently, in the fleets of Nicolas Mihanovich and the Entre Rios Railway companies on the River Plate between Buenos Aires and Montevideo and further into the interior of the South American continent. The Mihanovich paddlers were significantly larger than their Clyde counterparts and the Entre Rios ships were built as train ferries rather than passenger boats.

Other passenger ships produced by Inglis included around 50 small ocean going liners for the British India Steam Navigation Company, founded by Campbeltown-born Sir William MacKinnon, the largest shipping company in the world for a period prior to its merger with the Peninsula & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). Inglis first contribution to the Royal Navy was the destroyer HMS Fury in 1912 and, thereafter, they built numerous corvettes, frigates and patrol boats at Pointhouse. Arguably the most surprising of Inglis' contribution to the total of 26,000 plus ships built on Clydeside was their two Royal Yachts, the Safa-el-Bahr for the Kedive of Egypt and HMY Alexandra for the British Admiralty during the reign of HM King Edward VII. She finished her career as the coastal steamer Prins Olav on the famous Hurtigruten service in Norway. Ingis produced two ships in 1947 (any many unnamed barges), one being the vessel that has become well known as the world's last seagoing paddle steamer since 1971 and the other being the largest ship ever built in the Pointhouse shipyard, under subcontract from the Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Company of Greenock, the China Navigation Company's Soochow.

The picture above depicts Inglis' shipyard from the bridge over the River Kelvin in 1946. Nearest the camera is the Clyde paddle steamer Jeanie Deans (originally built at Fairfields on the opposite bank of the Clyde in Govan in 1931) undergoing a significant rebuild after over six years service in the Royal Navy as HMS Jeanie Deans during WW2. The vessel immediately astern of her and the vessel under construction in the yard are two of the four tankers, Empire Tedport, Empire Tedship, Empire Tedmuir and Empire Tedrita, built by Inglis in 1946-47. Finally, still in her austere wartime livery is the paddler HMS Aristocrat, then recently arrived after demob from the Royal Navy and ready to be converted back into her civilian role as the Clyde-based paddler Talisman. She was an Inglis product in 1935 when she broke new ground as the Clyde's first and, as it turned out, only diesel electric paddle vessel.

The high cranes in the background are those at the Govan shipyard of the huge Harland & Wolff shipbuilding group, of which the Inglis company had been a subsidiary since 1917. Although best known for their base at Queens Island in Belfast, from the 1920s to the 1960s Harland & Wolff's presence on the Clyde was almost as large as that on the Lagan. It Included 6 shipyards, the Finnieston (Steam) Engine Works at Anderston Quay, the Scotstoun (Diesel) Engine Works and the huge Clyde Foundry, one of the largest in Europe, in Helen Street Govan, which produced massive castings such as engine cylinder blocks, stern posts and rudder horns, etc.

Stuart Cameron

Saturday, 4 December 2010

End of an Old Season - Beginnings of the New Season!

The last passengers of the season stream off Waverley at Glasgow Science Centre as the 2010 season came to an end on Sunday 17th October.
Great to see the "early buds" of the new season in 2011 already peeping through the WEL website - click on the moving banner above for further details.
12 days in the Western Isles makes a welcome return in 2011 - and hopefully all this horrible snow will be away by then!!

 Charles McCrossan