Glasgow Docks

on Aug 5, 2017

A brief timeline The early efforts to deepen the River Clyde for navigation relied on the construction of groynes or jetties into the river to constrain the channel and use the natural scouring and deepening effect of the tides and the river flow. The effect was enhanced by joining the ends of the jetties by stone walls. By the middle of the 1830s the channel was deep enough to allow coastal steamers access to the Broomielaw but the narrowness of the channel was a major limitation to the development of Glasgow as a port. Compounding the problems was the expansion of industry on the reclaimed land lining the banks of the river. By 1840, the harbour extended from the Broomielaw Bridge encompassing the Broomielaw though Anderson on the north bank and Windmillcroft on the south bank. The steamboat quay was situated at the western end of the harbour on the north bank where there was a...

Renfrew Ferry

on Jul 10, 2017

Marlin Ford, about five miles down the Clyde from the center of Glasgow allowed people and livestock to wade across the river when the tide was low. For those who had more urgent business or were unwilling to get their feet wet, there was also a ferry and the rights ferry were granted to the burgh of Renfrew from the time of the charter making Renfrew a Royal Burgh in 1614. The land on both sides of the river was part of Renfrewshire. The land to the south of the ferry formed King’s Inch and in 1760, the tobacco lord, Alexander Spiers acquire the ground on which he built his Elderslie Estate. It was Spier’s son, Archibald, who approached the Renfrew Town Council with a plan to re-site the ferry about half a mile downstream at the outflow of the Pudzeoch burn. Public access through the estate to the original ferry inn would be curtailed and the estate would furnish a new ferry boat,...

Rothesay Dock

on Jul 4, 2017

When the Clyde Navigation Trust projected a need for a new dock to handle increased coal and mineral traffic in 1898, it chose a site downriver at Clydebank, next to the shipyard of Messrs J. & G. Thomson. The primary need was good rail access and the area was served by both the North British and the Caledonian Railways. The site itself was a difficult one for an engineering works as it was reclaimed land but by sinking a novel system of concrete monoliths, the dock foundations were quickly prepared and dredgers moved in to excavate the dock. It was decided that the dock cranes and hoists should be powered by electricity rather than the hydraulic power used in the docks in Glasgow. This was the first extensive use of electricity for a dock in the country. Early in 1907, the dock was sufficiently well advanced that it could be opened for traffic and the opening ceremony was...

The Latter Years of Iona

on Jun 13, 2017

In the previous article on MacBrayne’s Iona from May 31, 2017, the story left off when Iona had been displaced from the Ardrishaig mail service by Columba and sent to work out of Oban to serve the anticipated increase in traffic when the railway reached the town in 1880. The arrival of the Grenadier allowed Iona to return to the Clyde in 1886 where she provided a second service on the Ardrishaig mail run. Based overnight at Ardrishaig, she sailed for Greenock and the Broomielaw at 5:45 in the morning, making the usual calls at Tarbert, Tighnabruich, Colintraive, Rothesay, Innellan, Dunoon, and Greenock. She made her run from the Broomielaw, leaving at 1:30, and returning to Ardrishaig by the same route. Iona canting at the Broomielaw with Daniel Adamson and Benmore (Annan) Iona and Strathmore at the Broomielaw awaiting the 1:30 departure Iona and Strathmore at the Broomielaw...

Macbrayne’s Fusilier

on Jun 11, 2017

Traffic to the Highlands and Islands through Oban grew rapidly through the 1880s as a result of the connection by rail and the improvements to MacBrayne’s “Royal Route” by steamer from the Clyde. A new steamer was ordered from Messrs Hutson & Corbett of Glasgow and they subcontracted the construction of the hull to the Paisley yard of M‘Arthur & Co. Fusilier was intended for the Portree and Gairloch mail service and it is interesting to note that in the report of her launch in the Glasgow Herald, there is also an article on the meeting of the Crofter’s Commission at Gairloch. Fusilier and Claymore at Portree “On Saturday afternoon Messrs J. M‘Arthur & Co. launched from their shipbuilding yard at Paisley a beautifully modeled paddle-steamer names the Fusilier, which has been built by them for Mr David MacBrayne, and will form a useful addition to his large fleet of West...

Macbrayne’s Grenadier

on Jun 9, 2017

The introduction of Columba by Messrs Hutcheson in 1878 and the subsequent change in management to Messrs David MacBrayne supplied new energy to the tourist services to the Western Highlands and Islands. The former flagship, Iona, was moved to the Oban to Corpach service and the Pioneer was mainly on the important Staffa and Iona cruise station. In 1880, the Callander and Oban Railway was opened in 1880, providing a further spur to the tourist traffic. New tonnage was ordered by the Company, Claymore, for the Glasgow and Stornoway service was built in 1881 and Cavalier for the Glasgow and Inverness service in 1883. David MacBrayne’s niece, Miss Brown, launched Grenadier on Thursday, March 19 of 1885 from the yard of Messrs J. & G. Thomson of Clydebank. The new ship was multi-purpose, designed for the Ardrishaig mail service in winter when Columba was laid up, and excursions out of...

The Latter Years of Columba

on Jun 7, 2017

An account of the early career of Messrs MacBrayne’s Ardrishaig Mail steamer, the stately Columba, can be found in an article of February 2015. In this article, more of an album than an account, the development of the steamer from the 1890s to her demise in 1935 will be traced. Some time in the 1890s, the promenade deck over the sponson houses fore an aft of the paddle wheels was extended and for the first time, Columba appeared with two lifeboats over the rear sponson houses, rather than a single boat aft. Columba with new lifeboats Columba in Rothesay Bay (Adamson) Columba leaving Innellan Columba Minor changes were also incorporated in subsequent years. The forward grandfather-clock ventilators for the aft saloon were turned around to face the stern following reboilering in 1900 and in the following year, a deck awning was erected aft of the funnels to protect the companionway to...

Saint Columba

on May 27, 2017

At the end of the 1935 season, Messrs David Macbrayne & Co. Ltd, took possession of the two turbine steamers, Queen Alexandra and King George V that had belonged to Turbine Steamers Ltd. In May 1936, Queen Alexandra reappeared from the yard of Messrs J. Lamont & Co. Ltd. of Port Glasgow, sporting a mainmast, and a much elongated upper deck to accommodate a third red, black-topped funnel, drawing immediate positive comment as it reminded Clydesiders of the Cunard-White-Star liner Queen Mary that had been such an important image of the slow recovery of the shipbuilding industry on the river. Though the third funnel was a dummy, the new name selected for the vessel, Saint Columba, was also inspired as it cemented the link to the famous Columba, scrapped at the end of the 1935 season, that she was to replace. Saint Columba 1936 (Robertson) Saint Columba 1936 (Valentine) Saint...