Wednesday, 29 August 2012

When the Nights are Fair Drawing In - Sunset Views on the Upper Clyde

Photos taken on Waverley on the upper reaches of the Clyde in August 2012 - click on jmage for larger full size. 

The Clydebank Titan was the second of the six Giant Cantilever Cranes to be erected on Clydeside, being built at the John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank in 1906-07 by the Glasgow structural engineering firm of Sir William Arrol & Co. It was used for lifting engines, boilers, armour plating and ordnance aboard the battle cruisers and other large ships built at the yard. Following a phase as an offshore installation construction facility the yard closed in the 1990s. The fitting out Basin and the Titan are the only remaining parts of the shipyard. The Titan is a Grade A listed structure and opened as a heritage visitor attraction after a £3.75m restoration and conversion.  (

At nightime the Titan illuminations change colour every few seconds
The main visible change to the Titan for its new role was the addition of electric powered lifts
 The Rothesay Dock in Clydebank was opened by HRH The Duke of Rothesay (later King George V) in 1907.
For much of its history Rothesay Dockwas utilised for mineral and coal shipments but now it is used as a large petroleum products distribution centre, the fuel being imported by sea from the oil refineries.
 Over the last few years six new Type 45 (Daring-class) destroyers have been built for the Royal Navy at BAE Systems Maritime’s Clyde shipyards at Scotstoun (well known in the past as Yarrow’s) and Govan (ex Fairfield’s). The first-of-class, HMS Daring, was assembled in Scotstoun but the remaining five ships were assembled at Govan. All six were fitted out at the Elderslie Dockyard (originally John Shearer & Co shiprepairing facility) which is adjacent to the Yarrow yard.
The view above shows the final Type 45, HMS Duncan, named after Admiral Adam Duncan, the 1st Viscount of Camperdown and Baron of Lundie, a native of Dundee who defeated the Dutch Fleet at the Battle of Camperdown, just to the north of Haarlem, in 1897.
Below, Waverley sailing up the Clyde at dusk, the tall buildings on the right were originally built by Coventry Ordnance Works to supply naval ordnance to the Clyde shipyards. Later it became Harland & Wolff’s Scotstoun Engine Works, building large marine diesel engines using castings from the firm’s huge Clyde Foundry in Govan. Nowadays the building is utilised by the commercial vehicle axle and transmission manufacturer, Albion Automotive, the remaining part of the once huge commercial vehicle builder Albion Motors which occupied a site directly across the road in South Street, Scotstoun.
 The only commercial dock area still operating within the boundaries of the City of Glasgow are the Shieldhall Quay / King George V Dock in Shieldhall and, across the river at Diesel Wharf in Whiteinch. At Shieldhall the main trades are  the exporting of scrap metals and the importing of animal feedstocks and bulk materials such as rock salt. The is also some shipments of engineering products including the increasingly ubiquitous wind turbines. These two pictures show the bulk carrier CSL Thames which was discharging its cargo via her own long boom discharge conveyor.
Directly across the river from Shieldhall Quay is Diesel Wharf in Whiteinch which is now associated with scrap metal exports, a trade that is also carried on at Shieldhall Quay and the fitting out basin of the former West Renfrew shipyard of Lobnitz & Co. The building adjacent to Diesel Wharf was built as the North British Engine Works by the well established Clyde shipbuilder Barclay, Curle & Company for the construction of marine versions of Dr Rudolf Diesel’s internal combustion engine. These works produced some of the first marine diesel engines in the World.
The roof of the building at the south, riverside, end could slide open to allow the adjacent Arrol-built Titan crane to lift completed engines out of the building before slewing round and lowering them into the machinery space of new ships at Diesel Wharf. Sometimes two ships were berthed side by side at the Wharf and the Titan had enough ‘reach’ to lift the machinery into the outermost vessel. Unlike the Clydebank Titan, which had been constructed in Arrol’s main manufacturing plant, the Dalmarnock Ironworks in Dunn Street, the Whiteinch Titan was constructed at their Parkhead Crane Works in Rigby Street, which they had taken over from the short lived, rival the Glasgow Electric Hoist & Crane Company. In the later years of its existence as a marine supplier site, under the state-owned British Shipbuilders, these Works were used for the manufacture of Harpoon missile launchers. Until recently the Titan was used as a 'target' for the adjustment of the hihly sophisticated products of the Thales Optronics factory, which is built on the site of Alexander Stephens & Sons Linthouse shipyard. This firm was better known locally by its former name, Barr & Stroud of Anniesland, which was founded by Dr Archibald Barr, Professor of Civil Engineering & Mechanics at the University of Glasgow. Barr had succeeded Professor James Thomson, (whose brother was Professor William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, the Professor of Natural Philosophy), who had succeeded the eminent Professor W J McQuorn Rankine, writer of the first definitive textbooks on the design and operation of steam engines. All of these notable gentlemen contribued to the significant global influence of industrial Clydeside at its peak.
 Below,passing the fitting out basin of the Fairfield shipyard at Govan. This yard was built as a state-of-the-art shipbuilding facility by the influential engineer and shipbuilder John Elder in the 1860s. Originally named Randolff & Elder, the firm was renamed John Elder & Co after Mr Elder’s untimely death at the age of only 41 years during a business trip to London in the summer of 1869
 The firm was run by Mr Elder's wife Mrs Isabella Elder for some time. In his memory she bequeathed fund to establish the Elder Chair of Naval Architecture at the University og Glasgow. It was the first such academic faculty in the world and, as it still exists, it is the oldest  Chair of Naval Architecture. From the mid 1880s until 1964 the firm’s title was the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company (the yard was built on the site of the former Fairfield farm). After a period under the stewardship of Charles Pearce the yard was owned succesively by the Northumberland shipbuilding group and later the Lithgow Group of Port Glasgow, which, at that time, was the largest privately owned shipbuilding concern in the world. After the Fairfields liquidation the yard became part of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, then Govan Shipbuilders before being sold to Kvaerner Industries of Norway who invested significantly, creating the massive 3-bay Ship Module Hall to carry out the construction of large cryogenic gas carriers. The SMH is now being used to create the larger modules of the two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
The module that can be seen sticking out of the SMH Bay 3 door is Lower Block 04 of the first aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth. At over 11,000 tonnes, the load out weight of this module is almost double launch weight of the recently built Type 45 destroyers.

The Fairfied yard has built well over 800 ships since it first opened in 1866. It has built everything from ocean liners, including fast Transatlantic 'Blue Riband' winners, paddle steamers, cargo vessels of all types; fuel, LNG and chemical products tankers, battleships, frigates and destroyers (anf many more).
 View astern to the Govan Shipyard
There follows a selection of pictures on the huge residential property developments  associated with the regeneration of Glasgow Harbour.  It has been built on the site preiously occupied by the enormous Meadowside Granary, which hand been constructed in three phases. At its peak, the Granary was the largest brick-built building in Europe.


Waverley approaches the new £74m Riverside Transport Museum, opened in 2011, and the tall-ship Glenlee, built at the Anderson Roger shipyard in  Port Glasgow in 1896. Glenlee made  four circumnavigations of the World during her seafaring day. She is one of only 6 remaining Clyde-built sailing ships.
Tallship Glenlee ( and the new Riverside Museum (, the Museum occupies the site of the former Pointhouse shipyard of A & J Inglis, where Waverley was built in 1946-47.
More dtails of the Glenlee can be found on the Clydebuilt Ship Database
Waverley approaching her base at No 81 Plantation Quay, adjacent to the Glasgow Science Centre on the south bank of the Clyde. Ahead of her is the BBC Scotland HQ, the Clyde Arc (or Squinty) Bridge and the last giant cantilever crane to be built on Clydeside, at Stobcross Quay.

Passenger disembarkation at Plantation Quay
Even more - "cum'oan get aff"

Silence is golden when the happy hoardes have departed

Waverley's neighbours - the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which occupies the site of her Clyde base, No 52 Stobcross Quay, from 1977 to 1981.

Waverley - neighbours - the Headquarters and studios of BBC Scotland, which relocated here from its former base at the leafy Queen Margaret Drive in Glasgow's West End.

A memorable impression of the last remaining sea-going paddle steamer in the world at the end of a busy day

The Mighty Paddler at Rest
This collection of pictures is dedicated to the memory of the late Dr Joe McKendrick. Thanks Joe, your efforts enriched our lives and created memories that will remain with us forever.
I hope that you enjoyed the night time views of the paddler on her native waters of the River Clyde.
Stuart Cameron, August 2012.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Dr Joe McKendrick - A Tribute

It was a sombre Waverley which lay at Ayr Harbour on the morning of Tuesday 21th August with her red ensign at half mast. After a very heavy downpour Waverley left Ayr at 10am with three long blasts given as she started her last scheduled Ayr to Long Goil cruise for summer 2012. Shortly after Waverley had cleared the harbour Captain Clark made a special welcome to those on board and explained why the red ensign was at half mast.

On arrival at Brodick a wreath made at Eleanor's Flowers, Brodick was taken aboard and lay in the wheel-house until arrival at Blairmore pier at 1540. By Largs the weather had improved and a good crowd joined her for her afternoon cruise to Dunoon, Blairmore and the lochs.

Waverley returns to Blairmore where a short ceremony took place as a tribute to Dr Joe McKendrick

Since Joe's funeral began at 3.30pm in Clydebank Waverley's crew were unable to attend and so a short ceremony took place at Blairmore pier. Captain Clark was joined by Iain Quinn in saying a few words. Waverley's officers and crew joined Captain Clark on the pier along with regular passengers and pier staff to share thoughts and a moment of reflection for the life of a much respected friend.

Captain Clark started the short tribute before handing over to Iain Quinn. 
Joe was a director of Waverley Steam Navigation Company for over 30 years as well as being a director of Waverley Excursions Ltd. His contribution to the Waverley companies can never be fully stated and very few will ever know how much he did to help ensure Waverley and Balmoral continue to sail. Joe died following a short period of illness and his death came as a shock to all who knew him. He was a very private man but his passion for Waverley was visible to all. Joe's other passion in life had been teaching in Jordanhill School which he did for 35 years before retiring. He taught chemistry but was also Principal Teacher of Guidance. His funeral was very well attended by many former colleagues as well as many of Waverley's regular passengers. It was Joe's love for Clyde steamers that got him involved with Waverley in the early 80's. Indeed Joe held the position of shop manager for over 30 years ensuring that the souvenir shops on both Waverley and Balmoral produced a tidy profit each season.

Joe was also Vice Chairman of Waverley Excursions, Waverley Steam Navigation Co Ltd shareholder, Kingswear Castle Trustee, Former Chairman of PSPS Scottish Branch and a Past President of the Clyde River Steamer Club. He was a prime mover of Blairmore Pier Trust, its first Chairman and only Trustee to run the 8 year course for its second life. He and fellow Trustees have given us a legacy for all to enjoy and a tangible link to Waverley's maiden voyage in June 1947.

For a few minutes those at Blairmore, on Waverley and Clydebank gathered to show their final respect to a man who done so much for others. Indeed we have all lost a great friend and one of the greatest supporters Waverley will ever know.

Waverley having just arrived at Blairmore, both flags on the pier and at the stern can be seen at half mast.
The wreath was left at Blairmore pier and cast into the water after Waverley departed.

P Semple

All pictures provided by Roy Paterson

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Dr Joe McKendrick of Waverley

It is with the deepest regret and a very heavy heart that I have to intimate the passing of one of the greatest of PS Waverley's supporters over the past 30 years. Dr Joe McKendrick, who served as a Waverley trustee and director of Waverley Steam Navigation and Waverley Excursions as well as serving in various capacities in the the PSPS, the PS Kingswear Castle Trust and Blairmore Pier Trust, died in the Western Infirmary in Glasgow on 13th Aug 2012. Joe had been Principal teacher of Guidance at Jordanhill School, Glasgow until his retirement two years ago at the age of 62. Joe's contribution to Waverley was immense, even the most diehard of enthusiasts will be unaware of he extent of Joe's dedication. However, as a friend of Joe for more than 35 years I am struggling to find more words at the moment, so please excuse my not being able to expand on these at this time. In the picture below Joe is second from the right - this was taken during a flying visit that we made to George Prior Engineering during the Completion Phase of Waverley's £7.2m heritage rebuild. I am going to miss Joe very much and I know that there are many others that will be sharing my sense of great  loss.

Stuart Cameron
PSPS Scottish Branch

Below is a more recent picture showing Joe on The Second Snark taken during the Ormidale charter this year (8th July).

Dr McKendrick's obituary - from the 'Herald', Glasgow Friday 24th August 2012

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Waverley's Sabbath Trip to Tarbert

 - a tale of Poppy Leaves and Paddle Steamers

Paddle Steamer Mary Jane at Tarbert Loch Fyne in 1856

Today, the 12th of August 2012, 200 years after the pioneer Clyde paddle steamer, the Comet, first churned up the still river waters, PS Waverley performs her one and only Sunday visit to Tarbert Loch Fyne of 2012  - it is also the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society Scottish Branch annual hospitality day and the Branch committee will be pleased to meet members, old and new, on board. the picture aboveshows an earlier call by a paddle steamer at Tarbert - the paddle steamer Mary Jane in the inner harbour, probably in 1856 (only 10-15 years after photography was invented). The Mary Jane was built by the early upper Clyde shipbuilding firm of Tod & McGregor in 1846 at their original shipyard at what later became Springfield Quay (just downstream of the Kingston Bridge on the south bank of the river). Mary Jane's original owner was Sir James Matheson, one of the two Scottish founders of the great Hong Kong based trading company Jardine Matheson (still to the fore but now based in Singapore, I think)
Sir James Nicolas Sutherland Matheson, 1st Baronet
Matheson and his partner made their vast fortune conveying much sought after commodities from China to the UK. On the outward journeys they conveyed opium sourced from the Ottoman empire, which they sold to the Chinese. Nowadays, they would be condemned as international drug dealers, opium (from the poppy fields of Afghanistan and elsewhere) being the source material of the multi-billion pound illegal global heroin trade - but in the 19th Century it was positively encouraged by the British Government as a means of addressing the country's serious balance of trade deficit with China.
After William Jardine died a bachelor in 1843, his nephews David and Andrew Jardine assisted James Matheson in running the Hong (Chinese name for a trading firm) as the Tai-Pan (the head of a Chinese trading company). However, Matheson retired as Tai-Pan soon thereafter and handed over to David Jardine, another nephew of Jardine. Matheson, who was born in the village of Shiness near Lairg in Sutherland (which, despite its name, is the second most northerly county in mainland Scotland), returned to Scotland and used some of his 'ill-gotten gains' to buy the island of Lewis in the outer Hebrides in 1844 and commissioned the paddle steamer Mary Jane, named after his wife, to provide a regular service, summer and winter, from Glasgow, round the Mull of Kintyre, up through the Hebrides and across the Minch to Stornoway, capital of Lewis. She set sail on her first voyage from Glasgow on 18th June 1846 He built Lews Castle as his country seat and spent around £0.5m (a vast sum of money then), improving roads, farming methods and housing in Lewis and was regarded as a great benefactor there. Interestingly he tried to develop industry on the island, building a chemical works to try to utilise the island's valuable indigenous minerals but this came to nothing for reasons that are not well researched. As a result of his actions during the Highland Potato Famine, Matheson was rewarded with a baronetcy in 1851. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Ashburton from 1843 to 1852 and for Ross and Cromarty from 1852 to 1868. He died at the age of 82 in Menton, France on Hogmanay, 1878. Having no children, the baronetcy became extinct on his death.
PS Glencoe (J B MacGeorge collection)
Matheson's fleet of steamers was increased to two when in 1849 when he started to run the paddle steamer Marquis of Stafford (launched at J Reid & Son's East Yard, Port Glasgow on 29th September, 1848), which he owned jointly with the Duke of Sutherland, on a mail service between the mainland terminal of Poolewe and Stornoway. This service had commenced in the late 1700s using sailing vessels. The mails were conveyed by foot between Poolewe and Dingwall . Matheson sold the Mary Jane to the Glasgow & Loch Fyne Steam Packet Company in 1851 and this picture is likely to date from the period in which she was in their ownership. She passed into the hands of David Hutghson & Co (precursor of MacBraynes) in 1857 and remained in the Loch Fyne trade until 1875 when she was substantially remodeled, lengthened, had her 'fiddle-bow seen here replace with a 'slanting bow', and re-entered service with the name 'Glencoe'. Though already almost 30 years old this remarkable little paddle steamer was destined to spend another 56 years on routes all over the exposed western seaboard of Scotland, from 1879 under Mr David MacBrayne who had been a junior partner to the Hutchesons since 1851. She spent a lot of time running the mail service between West Loch Tarbert pier (a couple of miles across the isthmus from the location of this picture) and Islay but was also to serve on the Oban-Gairloch (Wester Ross), Oban-Fort William-Corpach (connecting with the Caledonian Canal paddle steamers for Fort Augustus and Inverness) and the Mallaig-Kyle of Lochalsh-Portree mail services. During WWI she was chartered to the Glasgow & South Western Railway to run between Winton Pier in Ardrossan Harbour and Arran and later to the rival Caledonian Steam Paket Company for their services from Wemyss Bay while some of these members of these fleets were requisitioned into the Royal Navy as minesweepers.  While MacBraynes' prima donnas like the mighty PS Columba hibernated in Bowling Harbour during the winter month the humble little Glencoe was essentially an all year round steamer enduring tremendous buffetings particularly when running on the exposed route to Islay.
The current Caledonian Macbrayne Ferrt Finlaggan is 295 feet (89.8m) long and 53 feet (16.9m) on the beam. By comparison PS Glencoe was just 165 feet long and 20 feet wide (excluding her paddleboxes). Glencoe's gross tonnage was 226, Finlaggan's is 5209. All the more remarkable that although Glencoe was reboilered four times in her exceedingly long career,  two her 'new' boilers were second hand - her original horizontal boiler was replaced by another of the same type in 1883. In 1901 it was replaced by a haystack boiler that was only 5 years newer than the one that it was replacing, having been installed in the new PS Fusilier at McIntyre's yard in Paisley in 1888. Again in 1928, Glencoe received a 'new' second hand haystack boiler (originally dating from 1902) which had been salvaged from wreckage of the beautiful clipper bowed paddle steamer Grenadier , which had sunk at Oban North Pier in Sept 1927 after an overnight fire which claimed the lives of several of her crew including her long term master, Captain McArthur.

PS Glencoe at Ardrossan where she was scapped at the end of her remarkable 85 year career on the west coast of Scotland

The remarkable 85 year career of paddle steamer Mary Jane / Glencoe came to an end  in 1931, by which time she shared the distinction of being the oldest operational steamer in the world with the paddle steamer Premier, built by Denny Brothers at Dumbarton in the same year for the local Dumbarton Steamboat Company's service between Dumbarton, capital of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde ans the City of Glasgow. Prior to the opening of the north bank railway between Glasgow and Dumbarton, twenty years later the river paddleboat service was by far the quickest and most comfortable way to make the journey.
PS Premier
In fact the Premier lasted 7 years longer than the Mary Jane but her services were seasonal and in less arduous waters than her highland counterpart. However, both of these remarkable make our current day 'old lady' (PS Waverley) appear to be a relative youngster at 'just' 65 years. - a thought to Ponder while we forge our way, purposely round Ardlamont Point and onward across Loch Fyne to risk distubing the Sabbath peace of the good folk of Tarbert

PS Waverley at Tarbert, Loch Fyne
Stuart Cameron, 12th August 2012

Thursday, 9 August 2012

End of an Era

Most of Waverley's regular passengers will be aware that Craig Peacock, Catering Manager, has found new employment with Northern Lighthouse Board. Craig first joined Waverley as chief cook in 1992 and then in 1996 was also to be found as chief steward. For more than half of his 20 years with the company he held the position of catering manager. Very few are fully aware of the great efforts made by Craig and the commitment he showed to both Waverley and Balmoral. As a fellow crew member who worked alongside him for many years he will be missed. It was due to Craig that during his time as chief steward and catering manager many familiar faces reappeared season after season in the catering crew. I for one wanted to return knowing he was in charge. He was well respected by all the crew and his standard of cooking was always exceptional. Since it was his last day Craig signed off the ship early and joined some regular passengers ashore in Brodick for a couple of hours. The picture below was taken from the Douglas Hotel in Brodick.

Waverley attracts some attention as she leaves Brodick on Thursday 8th August for her afternoon cruise around Holy Isle and to view Pladda.

Just after Waverley returned to Largs on Thursday 9th August Captain Ian Clark thanked Craig over the public address adding a personal thank you as a fellow crew member, this of course prompted a large round of applause from the passengers. Captain Clark then joined Craig and a few other familiar faces on the pier for a quick photo before taking her away with 2 rounds of 3 long blasts as a gesture of thanks.

Right to Left, Captain Clark, Craig and a few familiar faces on Largs Pier

Waverley pulls away from Largs with steam in view from the 2nd round of 3 long blasts.

I personally owe a lot to Craig as he talked me into joining Waverley in 1996 as a steward. I can still remember him telling me that to work 80 hours a week was "easy and a good laugh". I have to agree that there were many fun times as a member of the catering crew and many a story to tell. From a personal view point as Craig leaves Waverley he takes with him a little bit of the old Waverley magic which many crew will recall from years gone past. Waverley has indeed lost a good friend.

Paul Semple

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Comet Presentation

On Sunday 5th August Stuart Noble, chairman of Helensburgh Heritage Trust, was welcomed aboard Waverley. As part of the bicentenary celebrations of Henry Bell's Comet Stuart made a presentation to Waverley. The photograph below was taken by Roy Tait and shows Stuart holding a print of Comet which he then presented to Waverley represented by Captain Ian Clark and Purser Tony Gamlin.

For more information on events to mark the bicentenary of Paddle Steamer Comet visit the Comet 2012 website.

P Semple

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