Early Clyde Steamboats III

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Inveraray Castle Title

Early in 1817, John Wood’s yard produced a wooden hull for John Robertson of Glasgow who also supplied the machinery, almost a copy of the set he produced for the Clyde. The Defiance was a small steam-boat and was designed for the river trade but also opened up sailing to Lochgoilhead. The two other steam-boats built that year for the River were designed for goods traffic. Active and Despatch both came from Archibald MacLachlan’s yard and were engined by David Napier.

John Robertson had provided machinery for a number of steam-boats that were constructed on the Tay. The Oscar had been built there by J. Smart at Dundee in 1814, and was brought to the Clyde in 1817 by A. Dow to sail to Lochgoilhead. The development of steamboat services to Loch Fyne and the Western Highlands had shown that there was a tourist market and sailing to Lochgoilhead with a coach trip through Hell’s Glen to the ferry at St Catherine’s on Loch Fyne provided a faster alternative to the sea-route through the Kyles of Bute.

On May 26.—The Marion steamboat will commence sailing to-morrow for Greenock and Helensburgh, and every lawful day at 8 o’clock morning) and on Saturday evening at 6 o’clock. Will leave Greenock for Glasgow at 2 o’clock every afternoon, and on Monday morning at 4 o’clock. Those intending to go by the Marion will require to be on board by the hour fixed, or they will lose their passage. From her draught of water she is enabled to sail at all times of the tide, and will start the same as a mail coach.

On June 9.—On Wednesday afternoon the Rothesay Castle steamboat, Captain Johnstone, made her passage from Rothesay to the Broomielaw (Glasgow) in four hours, the fastest ever known, being at the rate of nearly eleven miles an hour.

On 11th November.—We are happy to announce the practicability of extending the navigation on the Clyde for very important purposes to the community and the surrounding country, was on Friday completely proved. Mr David Napier, engineer, made such alterations on the vent of his steamboat the Marion, as enabled him at high water to sail her through the different bridges. Against a very strong current she went above Clyde Iron Works with the greatest ease. The distance by water is upwards of six miles, and the time occupied in going and coming did not exceed three hours. The novelty of this attempt attracted an immense crowd; and it was cheered most heartily on the passage by all the public works situated on the river. At Mr White’s chemical works in particular the workmen saluted the vessel with several rounds. In returning, at a neat pavilion on the Estate of Shawfield, an ornamental flag with a suitable inscription was hoisted by some ladies; and at almost every turn of the river loud acclamations encouraged the undertaking. The public are certainly much indebted to Mr Napier for the zeal and spirit evinced by him in this memorable experiment. This vessel measures 70 feet in the keel, and about 90 feet on deck. It had a very grand effect in passing through a beautiful country, where no vessel had ever been before.

David Napier 445

David Napier late in life

The Greenock Directory of 1817 gives a list of the river steamers that were plying at the time and an idea of the type of service they provided to the towns around the Firth.

Greenock Directory 1817

Steamboat services in 1817

The following year saw the departure, in July, of the Marion to open up Loch Lomond for the tourist trade. The publication of Scott’s Rob Roy that year had focused the public’s attention of the Trossachs and the romance of the Highlands. It seems clear that David Napier had a vision of how to use steam-boats to develop tourism and other enterprises. Sensing the importance of steam-boats that would be sufficiently reliable to undertake cross-channel services, even in poor weather, extensive experiments were conducted to determine the best hull-lines and positions for the paddle wheels. The result was the Rob Roy, a most notable vessel. Launched in May from the yard of William Denny at Dumbarton and with a 30 hp engine built by Napier himself, she provided a new model for steam-ships with much finer lines that had hitherto been employed.

There are few details on this important ship.  There is a partial water-cut of the Rob Roy in Peter’s letters to his Kinsfolk and a painting of Rob Roy aground at the National Maritime Museum that shows highlanders landing the passengers from the side of the ship and a figurehead depicting the famous outlaw.  The following engraving comes from Encyclopædia Britannica in 1824 and Rob Roy is one of four candidates for the vessel illustrated.

Rob Roy ? EB Fig 1

A steamboat of about 100 tons, believed to be Rob Roy

In the Glasgow Herald on July 20th, she was advertised to sail to Arrochar in conjunction with the Marion on Loch Lomond. However, the experiments in tourism would have to wait. Sailings to Belfast proved to be more lucrative and throughout the month of August, Rob Roy was advertised for Belfast exclusively.

Rob Roy

Will sail for Arrochar on Wednesday morning at half-past five o’clock calling at Greenock, Gourock and Ardentinnie and will return to Glasgow in the evening. On Thursday morning at half-past five o’clock will sail for Arrochar and will return in the evening. By popular request on Friday afternoon at four o’clock she will sail for Belfast and will leave Belfast on Sunday evening with the intention of being in Glasgow on Monday morning.

The Marion will stop at Tarbert for those of the Rob Roy passengers who intend going through Loch Lomond to Luss, Inversnaid, Loch Catrine and the Trossachs. The Marion starts from Balloch at ten o’clock, morning and returning in the evening.

The Edinburgh Magazine of July, 1818, has a very special degree of interest: “A steamboat called the Rob Roy was recently built to sail as a regular packet between Glasgow and Dublin; and she has just returned from her first voyage in safety. On Friday morning, the 19th, at 4 o’clock, she sailed from the Broomielaw, touched at Port-Glasgow, Greenock, and Gourock; but owing to the boisterous state of the weather it was deemed advisable to put into Lamlash Bay, where she lay for eight hours. She proceeded to Carrickfergus, and arrived in Dublin on Sunday morning at 3 o’clock. At the earnest request of the passengers, Mr. Napier, the proprietor, consented to remain in Dublin two days, Sunday and Monday, and on Tuesday at 5 o’clock she sailed for Greenock, where she arrived at 7 o’clock on Wednesday morning, the 24th, having performed her passage in the unprecedented short time of 26 hours. In crossing the Channel she experienced a most severe storm, so much so that some of the passengers proceeded from Carrickfergus by the mail to Dublin, where to their astonishment they met the Rob Roy, she having reached the port six hours before them. A gentleman in Edinburgh received, on the morning of the 14th, by the steamboat, the duplicate of a letter which had been despatched by the mail on the 12th, the same day the steamboat sailed; the original letter only arrived on the evening of the 16th. The Rob Roy, which brought the letter to Greenock, performed the voyage from Belfast to the latter place in 14 hours.”

The great improvement in speed and handling that was apparent with Rob Roy prompted the owners of the other steamboats to carry out modifications. Changes in the length of the hull before or aft of the machinery were commonly carried out to improve the trim of the vessels and now the importance of the sheer at the bow was apparent. For example, the Glasgow was lengthened at the bow by five feet and had her profile sharpened. Clyde had her hull deepened and sharpened, improving her sailing. Argyle had been built with a square sailing barge bottom that was altered first to a round form and later sharpened. Neptune’s bottom was rebuilt and sharpened and Albion that had originally had sharp hull lines was further sharpened. Others underwent more significant alterations and reappeared on the river under different names. This was particularly true if the original form had been unsuccessful.

One of the steam-boats that was refashioned was the Princess Charlotte. The hull was entirely rebuilt from a square form and extended by John Wood and she had new machinery from D M‘Arthur. She re-emerged renamed as Greenock in May 1818. At the end of the year the Prince of Orange was given a similar transformation with new machinery by Murdoch and Cross. She was re-named Port-Glasgow and re-launched in April 20, 1819.

Some idea of the problems experienced by Captain Cumming in the Lord Nelson can be had from the advertisements in the Glasgow Herald. On June 10th, the public was respectfully informed that the commodious vessel was now fitted up with a new and powerful engine and would sail on Wednesday morning at seven o’clock for Greenock and Gourock and Thursday morning at the same time for the above places and Rothesay, and return the same evening. It was noted that every attention would be paid to the comfort of the passengers. However, on July 27th, the proprietors begged leave to inform their friends and the pubic in general, that, in consequence of a part of the engine having unfortunately given way when going in to Greenock on Saturday, their trip to Inverary (as advertised in the Courier and Chronicle of Saturday) must unavoidably be postponed for the present. The Lord Nelson was another of the steamboats that originally had a square sailing barge bottom and was withdrawn for a time to re-emerged as the Sir William Wallace in 1819 with a rounded bottom.

Of the utility of steamboats, the following is a striking instance. A gentleman left Oban at 3 o’clock on Monday morning last, reached Loch Gilp in time for the steamboat on her way from Inverary, stopped some time at Tarbert and Rothesay, and one hour at Greenock, and reached Glasgow the same evening at 10 o’clock. The distance from Oban to Glasgow by water is 170 miles.

The regular steamers to Inveraray were the Argyle, and the two Castle steamers. Dumbarton Castle with Captain Thomson was advertised in the Glasgow Herald of June 10th as sailing on Tuesday morning at five o’clock. In the same paper on July 20th, it was Rothesay Castle with Captain Johnston sailing the following Tuesday at five o’clock for Inveraray, calling at Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay and Otter Ferry, and returning to Glasgow on Thursday. One of the steamers sailed to Inveraray regularly each week. On 11th August, 1818—The Rothesay Castle steamboat, Captain Johnston, will sail on Saturday morning at 3 o’clock for Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay, Otter Ferry, and Inverary, and return to Glasgow on Monday.

The Argyle, or Argyll as she was advertised, was the main competitor that season and appears to have been experiencing some sabotage with her advertising.

Argyll—Captain McArthur

Will sail on Saturday the 27th June at five o’clock morning for Inverary and return on Monday. Passengers are requested to send their luggage on Friday evening. The Argyll will sail on Tuesday for Inverary and return on Thursday. The Argyll will continue to sail between Glasgow and Inverary during the season and the public will find in her the best accommodation to be met with in a steam boat.

Reward of Twenty Guineas

The just celebrity and consequent success of the Argyll steam boat, having goaded some person or persons to the pitiful expedient of altering the days and hours of her sailing on the intimation boards, in different parts of the City, evidently with a view to defrauding the proprietors and disaffecting the public—Twenty Guineas of reward is hereby offered to any person whose information will convict the offender or offenders. Glasgow 23rd June, 1818.

The Britannia, with Captain Wyse settled down in 1818 to sail to Campbeltown on a regular basis. She would leave Glasgow, generally at five o’clock in the morning on Wednesdays and Saturdays on a route that had advertised calls at Greenock, Gourock, and Rothesay to Campbeltown, returning on Thursday and Monday respectively.   In the Glasgow Herald of July 20th, she is advertised to sail on “Friday next, 24th July, at five o’clock morning for Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay, Campbeltown and on Saturday morning will start from Campbeltown and sail to the Craig of Ailsa back to Campbeltown that evening and return to Glasgow on Monday.”

The Glasgow steam boat was engaged in a week-long pleasure cruise with a party of gentlemen in the first week of June but returned to her usual sailings on Monday June 14th, leaving Glasgow at nine o’clock in morning for Greenock, Gourock and Largs and returning to Glasgow the same evening. On Tuesday the 15th she also sailed to Largs and also to Millport, returning on Wednesday to Glasgow. She sailed on Saturday July 24th at seven o’clock in the morning for Greenock, Gourock, Largs, Millport and Ardrossan and left at the same time on Monday morning for Glasgow. She had more variety to her schedule in August with a trip to Inverary on Tuesday the 17th, returning Thursday.

During the summer, John Robertson brought another of his steamboats from the Tay back to the Clyde. The Margaret was a small steamboat that had been built by Sharp of Dundee in 1816 and joined the steam-boats on the river traffic.

John Wood and John Robertson combined to produce a small steam-boat, the Marquis of Bute for the Rothesay trade. She was well appointed and had a reputation for fast sailing.

Another feature of 1818 was a conference of the principal steam-boat owners on the river to collude in fixing fares. For regular patrons, there had been a practice of issuing tickets for the season at lower rates but this was no longer permitted. The list of steamers in the rate fixing conference indicates that almost all the steam-boats on the river participated.

The List of Steamers in the Rate Fixing Conference in 1818

List of Steamers in the Rate Fixing Conference

Rate Fixing 1818

Steamer Fares in 1818

List of Steamers in ChapmanÕs Picture of Glasgow in 1818

List of Steamers in 1818

In September of 1818, William Harriston published a poem that gives some useful information on all of the Clyde steam-boats of the time. He later published “The Steam-Boat Miscellany” that contained many poems descriptive of the individual steam-boats on the Clyde. It also contained poems describing the track-boats on the Forth and Clyde Canal and the connecting craft on the Forth.

On the Clyde Steam Boats

On the Clyde Steamboats

Additional Verses to the foregoing Tune

Additional verses

Other literary pursuits also included the steamboats on the Clyde. A serialized account of trips by the Glasgow merchant Thomas Duffle down the Clyde on the Waterloo and Britannia formed the basis for John Galt’s novel “The Steamboat” published in 1822. The details of the new form of transport including the all important steward’s department and the fascinating parade of characters sharing the trip that included grounding on a sandbar between Greenock and Helensburgh add to the flavour of the period.

In 1818, in a statement to a Parliamentary Enquiry held into a boiler explosion that had occurred in the Thames, George Dodd related that bursting of low-pressure boilers was a relatively common occurrence. The wrought-iron boilers slit or rent and when the steam escapes it does not do so explosively. This had happened four times on the Clyde without any injury to the many passengers on board the steam-boats.

At the end of 1818, a small steamboat, designed for the river traffic, was under construction at the yard of John Wood. David Napier constructed the machinery and when she was launched at the beginning of 1819, she was name Robert Burns. She was followed by two others in April, the Fingal, a new construction from M‘Lachlan’s yard and engined by James Cook, and the Port Glasgow, a renamed Prince of Orange, lengthened and revamped like her sister by John Wood and with new and more powerful machinery by Murdoch and Cross.

The Comet at this time had been plying on the Forth but the advent of a vessel, Tug, built at Port-Glasgow at the end of 1817 had revealed her limitations and she was withdrawn in 1818. Her place on the Forth was taken by a steamship named Stirling Castle, generally referred to just as the Stirling steamboat. The Comet was brought back to the Clyde where she was prepared to sail to the West Highlands through the Crinan Canal that had finally been finished to a point that could sustain commercial traffic. The Comet was lengthened considerably, but still comfortably within the dimensions of the Crinan locks, and given new machinery. In August she was advertised to sail to Fort William calling at Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay, Tarbet, Loch Gilp, Crinan, Easdale, Oban, Port Appin on Thursday, September 2, at 9 o’clock in the morning, and continue this service sailing from Glasgow on Thursday and returning from Fort William on Monday. The fare was 22/- in the cabin and 15/- steerage.

Cheap Conveyance to FORT

The major development of 1819, however, was the construction of a number of steam-boats for the cross-channel trade based on the success of Rob Roy. A new confidence in design and construction of the hulls and reliable machinery led to the Talbot in April for the Holyhead to Dublin trade. At almost 100 feet long and 18 in breadth and 150 tons, she was by far the largest steam boat attempted by John Wood and driven by David Napier’s two thirty horse-power engines, she attracted much attention and was joined by a consort, Ivanhoe, the following year. In May, the Robert Bruce followed from Scott’s yard in Greenock. Of similar dimensions she was designed for the Liverpool trade from Greenock. An even larger production, also from Scott’s with machinery from James Cook, was the Waterloo, destined for the channel trade to Dublin from Liverpool under George Langtry’s ownership.

In June, Rob Roy had a competitor on the Belfast station. This was Sir William Wallace, sailing twice a week on alternate days to Rob Roy. She did not last long however, and was replaced the following year by the Rapid.

Also in June, a new and more powerful form of luggage boat or tug was produced by M‘Lachlan’s yard. Named Samson, she had two very powerful engines and was a valued addition to the towing fleet. Like the others, she would also carry passengers when convenient at rates that undercut the passage boats. The following announcement coincided with her entry to the river.

The Partners of the Clyde Shipping Company are composed of a great number of respectable merchants and others connected with the transmission of goods, who, being sensible of the very uncertain, inconvenient and extremely hazardous mode of carrying goods between the ports of Glasgow, Greenock, and Port Glasgow, resolved to form this Company for the purpose of carrying goods between those places, by means of a steam vessel, for dragging or towing lighters laden with goods. By these means, they have reason to believe, that the risk of damage to the goods by fire or otherwise, would be almost entirely removed: a much greater quantity of goods could be carried with dispatch at ultimately less expense, and greater facility would thus be afforded to trade.

The Company having built and fitted up in an elegant manner, a handsome and stout Steam Vessel, called the Samson, having two engines of the power of twenty horses each, with two copper boilers, and having provided a number of good Lighters, hereby intimate to the Public, that they are ready to take on board and forward by their lighters, every lawful day, goods for the places above mentioned, on the most moderate term: and also passengers on board the Samson, between Glasgow and Greenock (but not to stop at any intermediate place) and they confidently hope that their rates of freight and passage, and the attention of their servants, will be found to be such as to ensure them the support of the Merchants and Shippers of goods and of the Public.

In order to afford the greatest security of their employers, the Company undertake besides all legal responsibility and risk of loss and damage, to insure the goods sent by the Company’s vessels against fire, but they will not be responsible for money parcels, or packages containing gold or silver bullion, plate, diamonds, precious stones, jewellery, or such kind of valuables, though lost, stolen, or damaged, unless entered as such and paid for accordingly. For freight and passage apply to Mr. James Miller, the Company’s Manager, Eagle Lane, Maxwell Street, Glasgow, or to Mr. James Steel, the Company’s Manager at Port Glasgow or Greenock.

Most of the boats followed the sailings they had established in the previous year. For example, the Neptune with Captain Leitch is adverised to “sail tomorrow, Tuesday the 13th inst. at five o’clock morning for Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay, Tarbert, Lochgilphead and Inveraray. Returns on Wednesday 14th June to Glasgow.” Towards the end of the year, one of her competitors, Dumbarton Castle, sailed round the north of Scotland in 1819 to begin plying between Leith and Grangemouth. Competition would not be reduced, however, as a new, larger and more powerful steam-boat, Inveraray Castle, was launched from Wood’s yard in October and with machinery from D M‘Arthur, was well equipped for the Inveraray trade in the new year.

The Dumbarton steamer, Duke of Wellington, was remarkably free from accidents, and not until 1819 is an accident recorded. On this occasion the Company was asked by the proprietors of the Albion—the famous Glasgow-Largs steamer—to pay the sum of £26 19s 3½d for damage done to the Albion by their vessel. Having heard the report of the Master, the Dumbarton owners denied liability, and boldly put forward a counter-claim for damage done to the “Duke.”

In the first few months of 1820, a number of the steamboats changed hands. These included the early cargo boats Trusty and Industry. It seems likely that at this point, the two luggage boats were acquired by the Clyde Shipping Company.


To be sold, by public roup, within the hours of James Montgomery, Steam Boat Tavern, Broomielaw, upon Friday the 10th day of March next at two o’clock P.M. These two well-known Steamboats, Trusty and Industry, fitted for the carriage of goods, with their steam engines, cranes and appurtenances. The vessels may be seen by application to the Masters on board, and further particulars learned at the Steam Boat Office, No. 46 Jamaica Street. Glasgow, 17th February, 1820.

Steamboat Glasgow, presently lying in the harbour of Port Glasgow to be sold with her materials and furniture, 2nd March 1820, apply to Mr. James Cook, Glasgow or Wm. MacIntyre, Greenock. The death of a number of her owners has made it a requisite that she be sold.

Steamboat Fingal to be sold by public roup on Thursday 12th April, at Lyceum Rooms, Nelson Street, apply to Mr. Donald Cuthbertson, or to William Bogle and James Harvie. Indicates she had a contract for eight years (from January 1819) for £210 per annum and the new owner had obligation to keep up machinery for that period. 30th March, 1820

Steamboat Sir William Wallace to be sold by public roup on Thursday 27th April, at Lyceum Rooms, Nelson Street, apply to Mr. P. McGregor Campbell, preses. of the Co. Glasgow 13th April, 1820.

Only the latter left the Clyde, sailing for service on the Forth like the Dumbarton Castle before her. An advertisement for the Clyde Shipping Co.’s Samson, Hugh McGregor, Master, indicated that she would be carrying passengers and towing the company’s lighters between Port Glasgow and Greenock daily from 22nd April (Sunday excepted) 1820.

Samson has undergone a complete repair and her cabins being fitted-up in a handsome manner, she is in every respect a comfortable conveyance for passengers, between Glasgow and Greenock. When one or more vessels are towed First Cabin 2s. 6d.—Second 1s. 6d. When no vessels are towed, the same rates will be charged as the other Steam Passage Boats. Each of the company’s lighters are fitted with a crane. Glasgow 20th April, 1820.

The carrying of passengers on Samson was apparently quite lucrative and advertisements continued through the season. With her master Hugh M‘Gregor in charge she could cover the distance between the Broomielaw and Greenock in three and a half, or at the longest, four hours, even with several vessel in tow.

On the river in the new year, the new Robert Burns continued to impress and a note in the Glasgow Courier of 17th February was as follows: Extraordinary Sailing.—The Robert Burns steamboat made her passage from Glasgow to Greenock in two hours and one minute, including the usual stoppages.

The success of the channel steamers linking Greenock with Belfast, Dublin and Liverpool, prompted David Napier to add the Superb in 1820. At 264 tons, she was a product of Scott’s yard in Greenock and had two engines with a total of 72 horse-power. Her maiden voyage was on 27th of June, and with Robert Bruce as consort, allowed a service of two sailings a week. Later, in the same month, the Clyde Shipping Co. brought out the Greenock built Rapid of 140 tons to compete for the Belfast trade. Like Rob Roy, she was small enough to sail regularly from Glasgow, although both also used Greenock, and had extensive and commodious cabins, Maids’ Cabin, Ladies’ Cabin, Dining Room and a number of excellent sleeping berths. The river remained too shallow to allow the larger Liverpool and Dublin vessels to proceed to the city and this entailed trans-shipment of passengers and goods at Greenock and continued employment for the steamboats on the river trade.

One important development was the first edition of guidebook for the steamboats on the Clyde, “The Steamboat Companion”, was brought out by Lumsden in 1820. It was developed from an earlier publication, “Duncan’s Itinerary of Scotland” that had included some sparse notes on steamboats in the 1817 edition. However, the popularity of steamboats now merited a separate volume. The work described in detail the points of interest and homes of the local gentry on the principal tourist routes. It also provided a list of the steamboats in service on the river and firth.

LumsdenÕs Steamboat Companion

List of Steamboats from Lumsden’s Steamboat Companion

On the 10th of April, the owners of the new Inverary Castle, James Johnston, Commander, announced that their vessel would sail on Saturday April 29th, at five o’clock morning, for Inveraray calling at Port Glasgow, Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay, and the shore of Lochfine, and will return to Glasgow on Monday, in consort with the Rothesay Castle. The new steamer had her carpentry work by John Wood and had engines of 40 horse-power that were installed by Duncan M‘Arthur of Camlachie. Her boiler was of copper.

Inveraray Castle

Inverary Castle

On the 9th May it was reported that the Inverary Castle steamboat, Captain Johnstone, sailed from Glasgow on Saturday morning for Inverary, and performed her journey in the astonishing short period of eleven and a half hours. On her way she landed passengers at Port Glasgow, Greenock, Gourock, Dunoon, Auchinevillan, Rothesay, Tarbert, and Lochgilphead, a distance of at least 120 miles, besides her stoppages. The Rothesay Castle, Dugald Thomson, commander took over the Saturday sailing on 13th May.

On 1st June, Inverary Castle passage indicated to be made in 12 hours (leaving at 5 a.m. and arriving 5 p.m.) and those wishing to leave on Tuesdays and Fridays may have tickets for Rothesay (where they can stay overnight) either by Rothesay Castle or Inverary Castle at the same fare as going direct from the Broomielaw to Inverary. Sailing Saturday June 3rd and Wednesday June 7th.

On 27th July, an addition to the advertisement read that “Facts are Stubborn Things,” great quickness of the Inverary Castle means she makes her passage an hour to an hour and a half quicker than other boats and passengers can be assured of being in Inverary by four o’clock.

The competition for the two Castle steamers was the Argyle and the Neptune. The latter, under Captain Thomas Kirkwood was advertised in May sail to Inverary and Lochfine on Tuesday calling at Greenock, Gourock, Rothsay, Port Bannatyne, and the usual places on Lochfine and returns on Wednesday. On other days she sailed to and from Rothesay. The advertisements stressed the availability of newspapers and books and strict attention to accommodation of Ladies and gentlemen. The owners were also selling an engine of 20 horse-power which might have indicated that she had acquired more powerful machinery. On fair Saturday July 22, she sailed via Rothesy to Brodick and Lamlash Bays, Isle of Arran but resumed her normal sailings to Rothesay and Inveraray thereafter.

Steamboat Engraving389

A steamboat of 1820 from Rees’ Cyclopædia

There were two further additions to the fleet in the early part of the year, both involved in the river trade and both coming from the yard of Denny in Dumbarton. The first of these, named Post Boy, tested her engines in the middle of May and was ready by the end of that month to add to serve the river-trade needs of David Napier’s channel steamers and tourist excursions on Loch Lomond. She was specially designed by Napier to have a light draft so that she could sail from Glasgow regardless of the state of the tide.

The Post Boy, Marion and Rob Roy, Steam Boats.

The Post Boy on Saturday last tried her engine from the Broomielaw to Greenock, which distance she sailed in two hours, less one minute. She will be completely finished the beginning of next week, when it is intended she will sail from the Broomielaw to Greenock, every lawful morning at six o’clock, land the passengers at Dumbarton for the Marion, and proceed to Greenock with the passengers for the Superb and Robert Bruce (Liverpool Steam Packets). She will leave Greenock for Glasgow every morning at ten o’clock, and again leave Glasgow for Dumbarton at three o’clock afternoon, and stops at Dumbarton for the passengers from the Marion; with whom she will return the same evening, giving the people of Glasgow an opportunity of leaving their homes in the morning, viewing the beautiful scenery of Lochlomond, and return in the evening, for a mere trifle. The internal accommodation of the Post Boy will be found superior to any thing on the river.

The Marion will commence sailing on Lochlomond on Monday the 5th June, and will continue to do so every lawful day during the summer calling at Balmaha, Luss, Rowardennan, foot of Benlomond, Tarbet and Rob Roy’s Cave, leaving Balloch at ten o’clock and returns in the evening.

The Rob Roy will, after the 20th June, sail from Glasgow or Greenock to Belfast, three times a week, viz. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, leaving Glasgow at six ‘clock morning, and when it is inconvenient for her to leave Glasgow at that hour from want of water in the river, or any other cause, passengers will be conveyed to Greenock in the Post Boy, which, as is noticed above, leaves Glasgow every morning at six o’clock. Until the 16th of June, the Rob Roy will continue to sail as formerly. Glasgow 20th May, 1820.

On 30th May it is intimated that coaches will be in readiness to convey passengers who are not inclined to walk to Balloch, either at Dunglass or Dumbarton.

On 18th August it was intimated: fares from Glasgow to Dumbarton Cabin 2s.; steerage, 1s. 6d. Two boats shall be kept at the expense of the Post Boy for taking out and in passengers at Dumbarton. They shall leave Dumbarton Quay with passengers for Greenock, at seven o’clock, morning, and for Glasgow at eleven o’clock forenoon. Cabin fare to the head of Lochlomond 5s., going and coming the same day, 7s. 6d. steerage 5s. 6d. and 6s. A warning that passengers going by the Marion, Superb and Robert Bruce, run many chances of losing their passage by going with any other boat than Post Boy, even although they start earlier. A number of instances of this have already occurred as the Marion and Liverpool packets wait the arrival of no other boat, and as the Post Boy can go at all times of the tide.

The warning was likely aimed at passengers who travelled by the Dumbarton Co.’s steamer and no doubt there were significant financial implications for the company with the old Duke of Wellington. They responded with second addition to the river fleet, the Dumbarton, their second ship. The new steamboat had an advantage over the Post Boy in that it landed passengers directly at the quay at Dumbarton although progress up the Leven could be a slow and difficult process and it was common to drop off passengers in small boats off the Castle Rock when the tide was low.

Fine new Steamboat Dumbarton

The owners of the Duke of Wellington steam boat beg leave most respectfully to return their sincere thanks to their friends and the public for the very distinguished encouragement they have received; and now beg to intimate, that having fitted up the above fine new boat in a superior manner, both as to internal accommodation and powerful machinery, they therefor still solicit a share of the public patronage, assuring them that nothing shall be wanting on their part to increase the safety and comfort of the passengers.

The Dumbarton will sail from the Broomielaw every lawful morning at six o’clock, landing her passengers on the quay of Dumbarton; and leaves Dumbarton for Glasgow at half-past eight: and she will sail again in the afternoon of the same day for Dumbarton, returning to Glasgow in the evening. Hours of sailing are to be seen on the boards.

The owners of the Dumbarton desire the public to take notice that they are determined she shall sail precisely at the hour published on the boards.

Fares—first cabin, 2s.—second cabin, 1s. 6d.

Dumbarton August 8, 1820.

The Dumbarton Co. promptly sold the old Duke of Wellington to the Glasgow and Caledonian Canal Co. who renamed her Highland Chieftain and, after some improvements, including lengthening her in Denny’s yard, began to try her on the trade through the Crinan Canal to the West Coast of Scotland.

On the route to Largs and Millport, there was gentle competition between the Albion and the older Glasgow, which continued her run to Ardrossan generally with an overnight stay. In the season, both she and Albion ran daily to Largs. The Albion, Captain Kay, ran occasional excursions such as the one on Saturday 29th July for Campbelton via Largs and Millport, returning on Monday.

The proprietors of the Albion beg leave to return their grateful acknowledgements to the Public for the very liberal patronage which for the last four years they have received and to acquaint them that the boat will, as usual, continue to ply betwixt Glasgow, Greenock, Gourock, Largs and Millport, during the season. The proprietors can only repeat what four years trial has demonstrated that the Albion is not surpassed by any boat at present upon the river for speed, comfort, accommodation, and every other requisite which can recommend the use of such a conveyance. The liquors and provisions kept on board are of the first quality, and every exertion on the part of the proprietors and crew will continue to deserve that patronage they have so long received. 9th May, 1820.

Steamboat Glasgow will sail from this tomorrow at ten o’clock for Greenock, Gourock, Largs, Millport, and Ardrossan, and returns early on Monday morning. On that afternoon at five o’clock, she will sail for Greenock only; and on Tuesday morning, at six o’clock, from thence for Gourock, Largs, Millport, and Ardrossan, and return from thence at three o’clock for Glasgow, calling at the above places. 9th June, 1820.

On 22nd June the advertisements for Glasgow were augmented by:—As the weather now seems settled and favourable for sea bathing, the Glasgow will run every lawful day to Largs during the season, on the same terms as any other steamboat.

Lochlong and Lochgoil were served by the Defiance and the little Oscar although the latter seems to have faltered towards the end of the season and have been replaced by Fingal. She is noted as sailing on September 14th, leaving Glasgow at four o’clock, morning, Greenock at seven, and Gourock at half-past seven. Passengers, on reaching Lochgoilhead could go on to Inveraray, view the palace and return the same evening. Quite a trip!

On the long route to Campbeltown, the Britannia continued to sail twice a week with an overnight stay. Towards the end of August, she embarked on a more lengthy trip along the North Antrim Coast.

Britannia, Captain Wyse will sail from Glasgow to Campbelton on Wednesday morning 7th June and return on Thursday and again on Saturday, returning Monday, twice a week for the season. 5th June, 1820.

On Tuesday 29th August, Britannia sailed from the Broomielaw at six o’clock morning via Rothsay for Campbeltown where she will remain overnight before starting early next morning for the Giant’s Causeway and will remain there on Wednesday and part of Thursday, calling at Colrain at night and returning to Campbeltown on Thursday night and Glasgow on Friday.

With the impending opening of the Caledonian Canal, there was much interest in extending services along the western seaboard of Scotland and through the Canal to Inverness. The Glasgow Courier reported the arrival of the first steamboat at Inverness on 28th June.—“The steamboat Stirling, having on board Mr. Bell, the proprietor and the original projector of steam vessels, arrived at Inverness yesterday se’ennight. The Stirling is a vessel of about seventy tons, elegantly fitted up. . . . The ships of Columbus or Pizarro, or more recently of Captain Ross, could scarcely have created greater wonder than she did at Inverness, gaping crowds successively crowded her decks and the banks of the Canal, during the whole of Wednesday and Thursday.” In this instance she had sailed from the Forth.

However, all was not well with Mr. Bell. In the Herald of December 22, 1820, the following appeared.

Steam-Packets to the Hebrides and North-west of Scotland.—The great facilities now afforded for visiting many parts of this country, by means of the cheap and safe conveyance of these vessels, continue to be everywhere on the increase. At present, it must afford much satisfaction to all interested in the northern parts of our Island, to learn, that a communication is now to be opened, by this admirable invention, to many parts of the Highlands which were lately, and are yet, comparatively inaccessible by roads. It is now intended that a Steam-boat shall begin to ply from the Clyde—to the Lewes, through the Crinan Canal and Sound of Mull—to call at Tobermory—from thnce to the Sound of Skye—call at Isle Ornsay, Lochalsh, Castlemoil, Portree, and afterwards to go on to Stornoway. The Steam-boat Highland Chieftain has already gone as afar as the Sound of Skye on this route, for a trial, and performed the passage in the remarkably short space of 35 hours from Glasgow—a distance of 235 miles, notwithstanding she had to steam the currents which run so violently in the Sounds of Skye and Mull. She returned in nearly the same time, and encountered, with great intrepidity, very severe weather. The track it is now proposed that this Steam-boat shall run, will be highly gratifying in the summer months for an excursion.

We are sorry to state, that the Comet Steam-boat on Friday last, on her way home from Fort William to Glasgow, at half-past four in the afternoon, while passing through Dorishmore, at the point of Craignish Rock, was struck with a strong gust of wind, which laid her on her beam-ends; and in ten minutes, owing to the great current of tide and high seas and wind, was laid broad-side on the rocks. Every exertion was made for the landing of the passengers and men, which was safely accomplished. On Saturday morning she was a complete wreck.—It is understood that the Comet Steam-boat Company has contracted for another Steam Passage-boat, of greater power, to ply between Fort-William and Glasgow, which is expected to be ready by the first of April.

So, less than ten years from the time of her first trip, the pioneer steamboat met her end. Fortunately for Bell, plans were afoot for a new and improved steamboat that was launched the following year.

Cleland and Pigot Combined

Steamboats Listed in 1820

July 1820

Steam Vessels in July 1820

The new year, 1821, saw few changes. The Inverary Castle and Rothesay Castle continued to dominate the sailings to Rothesay and Inveraray.


On June 23rd, the Inverary Castle was advertised to sail at seven o’clock, morning for the Island of Arran, calling at Port Glasgow, Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay, Brodick, and Lamlash, and returning on Monday. This was repeated through July. The Rothesay Castle meanwhile sailed on Saturday on the normal route to Inverary.

The Fingal appears not to have been a great success for her owners as she was sold by public roup on May 23rd. She was apparently under contract for eight years from January 1819, at a rate of £210 per annum thought the owner was obliged to keep the vessel and her machinery in good working condition and repair during this period. She was advertised for the season on the Lochgoil route, along with Defiance, now more appropriately renamed Highland Lad. The route to Inveraray by Lochgoil remained popular and the pier at St Catherines on Lochfyneside was rebuilt at a cost of £166.

One innovation from the Clyde Shipping Co. was the introduction of the Trusty on a service to Rothesay and Campbeltown.

For Rothesay and Campbelton,

The Steam Boat Trusty, properly fitted out for the conveyance of goods between Glasgow, Greenock, Rothesay and Campbelton, will sail from the Broomielaw, on her first trip, on Thursday the 1st March proximo.

The Trusty will continue to sail to and from the above mentioned ports weekly, on certain days which will be hereafter named, and as great facility will thus be afforded in the transmission of goods between these places, it is hoped she will meet with the support of the Public.

A few passengers can be accommodated at moderate fares.

Passenger carriage was also continued on Samson between Glasgow and Greenock.

In June, James Scott & Sons of Greenock produced the Majestic (Captain Oman) for the Liverpool trade of James Little & Co. At 240 tons and with engines of 120 horse-power produced by David Napier, she was an impressive addition to the channel steamers with elegant and delightful accommodation. Sailing from Greenock and calling off Port-Patrick, and Douglas, Isle of Man, Whitehaven and Liverpool. On July 6, she is advertised sailing from Greenock every Tuesday at 9 o’clock, morning with the Superb (Captain Moffat) sailing on Friday at the same time. It is intimated that Robert Bruce (Captain Carlyle) would be sailing between Liverpool, Douglas and Whitehaven twice weekly to allow passengers from the Majestic and Superb who disembark at Douglas to visit the Lake District. A smaller ship appeared in July from Robert Steele & Co. for the Belfast trade. The Eclipse was 140 tons with a two-cylinder engine of 60 horse-power also furnished by David Napier. She provided a twice-weekly service across the North Channel and replaced the Rob Roy which was then sold.

The increasing traffic from the channel steamers for the Post Boy, connecting Glasgow with Greenock prompted and arrangement between the owners of the Marion and the Dumbarton Co. In May, it was announced that Marion would commence sailing on 4th June, leaving Balloch at 10 o’clock, morning, for the excursion calling at Balmaha, Luss, Rowardennan, Foot of Benlomond, Tarbet and Rob Roy’s Cave. The connection from Glasgow was at half-past five o’cock, morning by either Post Boy or Dumbarton Steam Boat. The Post Boy was also taking passengers for the Superb and Robert Bruce, Liverpool Packets, which would await her arrival and warned that there are frequent instances of passengers loosing passage, trusting other boats taking them in time.

The steam-boats connecting with the Marion on Loch Lomond had some competition from a coach put on by the proprietor of the Balloch Inn. It seems clear that the new revenue generated by the expanding tourist trade was attracting a considerable amount of attention.

The Lochlomond Coach.

Cheap, Direct, and Expeditious Travelling between Glasgow and Balloch.

Robert & Adam Walker

Beg leave to announce that they have determined to run an Elegant New Landeau Four Seated Coach between Glasgow, Old Kilpatrick, and Balloch at the south end of Lochlomond, to start from the Buck Head Hotel, Glasgow, on Monday the 9th July current, at Six o’clock Morning, and will continue to run from the same place, every lawful morning, at the same hour, during the Season; arrives at Balloch in sufficient time for the Steam Boat Marion, which continues to sail from the Inn there every morning at 10 o’clock, plies along Lochlomond, among the numerous Islands, calling at Balmaha, Luss, Rowardennan, foot of Benlomond, Tarbet, and Rob-Roy’s-Cave, and returns to Balloch in the afternoon; from whence the Coach will start for the Buck Head, Glasgow, every lawful day at six o’clock.

Fare only 6s. from Glasgow to Balloch.

Travellers will have sufficient time for breakfast, either at Old Kilpatrick, where the horses are changed, or at Balloch previous to the sailing of the Marion; and can also dine or take tea in the afternoon, either at Balloch on arrival of the Boat, or at Old Kilpartick on return of the Coach. It will be found upon calculation, that the expense of this safe and direct conveyance, is about the same as it would cost the traveller going down the Clyde in one of the Steam Boats—getting on shore at Dumbarton Castle by a small boat—and then taking another coach from Dumbarton to Balloch. 3rd July, 1821.

The replacement for the Comet, wrecked in December, was ready to take up the Fort William station at the end of June. She had been built by James Lang at Dumbarton and engined by D M‘Arthur & Co. At 94 tons and with engines of 25 horse-power, she was much superior to her predecessor but still seemed ill-suited to face the stormy Atlantic on the West Coast of Scotland.

The New Steam Packet Comet, Captain Robert Bain, intends sailing from the Broomielaw for Fort William on Thursday the 28th instant calling at all the intermediate ports. Hour of sailing to be seen on the boards.

This vessel is fitted up in a superior style, well accommodated with beds for cabin passengers. She has two excellent copper boilers, and all her materials are of the first kind; and as the owners have spared no cost to render this Vessel safe and commodious, they trust that they will merit the attention of the public.

Further particulars may be known by applying to Robert Stewart, Agent, 126, Broomielaw. Glasgow 22nd June 1821.

After the completion of her first voyage, in early July, a large advertisement indicated that after the wreck of the previous Comet, a majority of the proprietors, aided by others commenced on a more extensive and improved scale to erect a new boat. They reported that she had taken 26 hours on her voyage from Glasgow to Fort William, including all the interjacent places the old Comet used to call. She has a large number of beds and comfortable bedding and entertainment on board. The Comet was scheduled to sail on Thursday, July 19th, at four o’clock, morning.

Two other steamers also appeared in 1821. From John Wood’s yard can the Ayr, or Air, as she was sometimes known, for the service to Ayr. At 76 tons, and with a 60 horse-power engine by John Neilsen, she was destined to meet up with Comet in tragic circumstances just a few years later. The other steamboat, Caledonia, was of similar size and came from the yard of William Denny. With an engine of 32 horse-power, she was built for the Helensburgh trade.

The winter schedule for the Britannia, Captain Wyse, was a weekly sailing on Saturday to Campbeltown, and returning on the following Monday, but on Tuesday, May 1st, at twelve o’clock, noon, she sailed for Belfast, calling at Greenock and Gourock before returning to take up her summer schedule on the following Saturday. At the beginning of May, the steam vessels Britannia and Waterloo were advertised together, intimating that both vessels had been considerably improved and were equal to any on the river. The Waterloo sailed daily to Greenock and Helensburgh while the Britannia sailed twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday for Campbeltown, calling at Greenock, Gourock and Rothesay and returning on Thursday and Monday respectively. As in the previous year, the Britannia offered excursions across the North Channel to the Antrim Coast sailing on Tuesday, July 3, calling at Greenock, Gourock and Campbeltown, before proceeding to the Port Ballantyne for the Giant’s Causeway, Londonderry, and returning to Glasgow on Friday July 6. The excursion was repeated on July 24th and again on August 10th. On Fair Friday, the 13th of July, she sailed for Campbeltown and on Saturday ran round Ailsa Craig and on Saturday, July 28th, called at Brodick Bay at the foot of Goatfield on her way to Campbeltown. The owners of these steamers formed the company that would eventually result in the Laid Line.

On Saturday June 21st, the steam boat Glasgow extended her usual sailing and sailed at eight o’clock for Greenock, Gourock, Largs, Millport, Ardrossan, Irvine, Troon and Ayr, returning on Monday calling at all the above places. She had been lengthened by her builders in February and was now 73 feet long and 52 tons. The excursion was repeated a month later during the Fair with a note that a boat would attend at Innerkip to take passengers to and from Glasgow. Her competitor, the Albion also advertised excursions during the Fair. On Saturday, July 21st, she sailed for Greenock, Gourock, Largs, Millport and Inverary leaving Saturday and retuning on Monday and the following Saturday the destination was Brodick. She then resumed her normal schedule, sailing daily to Greenock, Gourock, Auldkirk, Largs, and Millport.

Glasgow Delineated

List of Vessel from Glasgow Delineated in a Series of Views in 1821

1821 Steam Vessels plying on the River Clyde

The Highland Chieftain had not been a success on the routes to the highlands and had been eclipsed by more modern vessels with superion accommodation. She had been sailing in the trade between Dumfries and Liverpool, a distace she could accomplish in twenty-seven or twenty-eight hours with stops on the Isle of Man, Whitehaven, Workington, and Maryport. She was offered for sale by public roup on 24th January, 1822. On April 13th there was an advertisement that the Glasgow and Stranraer steam packet would sail on the following Thursday calling at Greenock, Largs, Ardrossan, Troon and Girvan at 7 o’clock, morning rather than 5 o’clock as formerly advertised and would thenceforth sail once a week under the agency of Patrick Neilson. The advertisement in May confirms that the packet is Highland Chieftain, John Wauchope, master.

The route to Largs saw further changes during the year. The Glasgow steam boat was advertised in January 1822, sailing Thursday, returning Friday, having just undergone considerable repairs and improvements. The Albion, continued with her extended sailings to Ayr and occasionally to Arran, and added a consort, Largs, at the beginning of the season. Captain Kay transferred to the new vessel, but the Albion continued to sail with a new master. The two ships had different owners but the advertisements were at pains to point out that they offered similar amenities.

Largs (Captain Kay) will sail from the Broomielaw on Saturday next for Greenock, Gourock, Innerkip, Largs, and Millport, and return on Monday. Hours of sailing to be seen on the boards.

The proprietors beg leave to announce, that this boat has been built, more with the view of accommodating the public frequenting the coast, than of any personal emolument to themselves. She has been built in the most substantial manner, and her interior subdivisions, for elegance and accommodation, as well as her rate of sailing, will be found superior to any boat of her description on the river. She will ply on the above station as far as Ardrossan, and occasionally to Arran, during the season. They have engaged steady and experienced hands for navigating the vessel, and she will be regularly supplied with liquors and provisions of the very best quality.

They have also made arrangements by which every facility and accommodation will be received by the Albion steam boat to those who sail on the Largs, which may be learned by applying to the Captain on board; or to William White, confectioner, Hutcheson Street. 6th June, 1822

And, from her stablemate, revealing a deal of competition between the two vessels, the following advertisement appeared.

Albion (Captain Archd. M‘Callum) will sail from the Broomielaw on Saturday next for Greenock, Gourock, Innerkip, Largs, Millport, Ardrossan, and will return to Glasgow on the Monday. The Albion will continue to ply on that station, and occasionally to Arran, during the season. Hours of sailing to be seen on the boards.

The proprietors of the Albion take this opportunity of returning their grateful acknowledgements to the public for the very liberal share of patronage which they have experienced. The boat is in the most complete order and repair, and having at all times proved herself a first rate sea-boat, and being in point of accommodation surpassed by none upon the river, they respectfully solicit a continuance of that favour they have so long received.

They have also made arrangements by which every facility and accommodation will be received by the Largs steam boat to those who sail on the Albion.

Any farther particulars may be learned by applying to the Captain on board; or to John Allan, grocer, 624 Argyll Street.

Liquors and provisions of the best quality may at all times be had on board. 5th June, 1822

By August, both Largs and Albion were alternating Saturday sailings to Ayr, calling at Port-Glasgow, Greenock, Gourock, Innerkip, Millport, Ardrossan, Irvine, and Troon, returning Monday. The sailings to Largs and Millport continued on other days.

The new-year also saw an addition to the Clyde Shipping Co.’s tug fleet with the powerful Hercules coming from the yard of Robert Steele & Company, with engines by Caird & Co., Greenock. In addition, the Liverpool steam packets under the agency of James Little & Co, added the City of Glasgow from Scotts yard in Greenock and engined by David Napier. At over 190 tons she was unable to sail to the Broomielaw and that intailed extended use of the Post Boy to transport passengers and luggage to Greenock. Post Boy is advertised as leaving the Broomielaw at 8 o’clock on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday for the Packets City of Glasgow, Superb, and Majestic. This meant that the connections with Marion in the season were left to the Dumbarton Steamers.

City of Glasgow

City of Glasgow

In May, 1822, the Dumbarton Steamboat Company entered into an agreement with the owners of the Marion, which plied on Loch Lomond. The Dumbarton Company agreed to convey the passengers of the Marion to and from Glasgow, ‘the hour of sailing from Glasgow to be betwixt five and eight in the morning, and from Dumbarton from six to seven in the evening.’ The owners of the Marion apparently had hitherto managed a coach connection between Glasgow and Loch Lomond, for in the agreement the Dumbarton Company made the stipulation that only one coach was to be run each day from Glasgow to Balloch. Presumably they desired to have as far as possible a monopoly of the Dumbarton-Glasgow trade, and aimed at displacing road transport altogether.

Marion sails every morning at ten o’clock in connection with the Dumbarton steam boat. Passengers on reaching Dumbarton in the morning will find carriages ready to carry them to Balloch.

The route to Lochgoilhead and Arrochar was served by the Fingal and Highland Lad, providing a connection by coach to Inveraray and sporadically with Marion at Tarbet. The Oscar that had an early connection with the Lochgoilhead route was repaired and improved but found her employment on the Greenock and Gourock route.

Oscar (Captain Peter Grahame) returns thanks to those friends and the public who have and are patronising him, and feels proud to state that since receiving on board a new engine (of a peculiar construction unequalled on the Clyde, Mr Duncan M’Arthur, maker) the Oscar has attained a degree of speed at least equal to that of a majority of her competitors, while she has the advantage of sailing in much less water.

The accommodation will be found respectable, the fares equally low with those of an steam vessel on the Clyde, and the proprietors are determined that nothing shall be wanting on their part to render Oscar an object worthy the attention of the public. August 1822

The Toward Castle was added as a new consort for Rothesay Castle and Inverary Castle in May, and although independently owner, they were advertised together. This allowed three sailings to Inverary each week and sailings to Rothesay on other days. There was also a weekly sailing to the Isle of Arran during the season. The new steam-boat, Toward Castle was produced from the yard of J. Lang at Dumbarton—his manager, William Denny at that time was in the ascendency and would take over the business. She was 79 tons and had an engine constructed by D. M‘Arthur. In June, Rothesay Castle (Captain Brown) sailed on Tuesday 3rd June to Inverary at six o’clock returning Wednesday, while Inverary Castle (Captain Thomson) sailed on Saturday 8th June to Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay, Brodick and Lamlash, Island of Arran, returning Monday. Hours of sailing were posted on the boards. On June 6th, it was announced that the Inverary, Rothesay, and Toward Castle steam packets, will sail regularly for Inverary three times every week, leaving Glasgow on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and Inverary on Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays, during the season, till further notice.

Rothesay Castle (Captain Brown) Tuesday 25th June to Inverary at five o’clock returning Wednesday

Inverary Castle (Captain Thomson) Saturday 10th July to Inverary at six o’clock, returning Monday

Inverary Castle (Captain Thomson) Tuesday 30th July to Inverary returning Wednesday

Rothesay Castle (Captain Brown) Wednesday 31st July to Inverary returning Thursday

Toward Castle (Captain Johnston) Tuesday 30th July to Rothesay and sails next morning through the Kyles of Bute for Eterick Races and return to Rothesay in the evening. 27th July, 1822

With a new steam-boat to justify, the competition from Neptune and Argyll on the Inveraray route provided some difficulties. The competition could undercut the Castle Steamers, especially on the return journey to Rothesay.

Neptune (Captain Kirkwood) will sail from the Broomielaw on Wednesday 31st July for Inverary calling at Port-Glasgow, Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay, Tarbert, and Lochgilphead, and return to Glasgow on Thursday.

The proprietors return their sincere thanks to a discerning public, for the liberal encouragement they have received, and hope they will still merit a continuance of their favours, as no expense will be spared for the accommodation and comfort of passengers.

At the request of a number of gentlemen, the Neptune will sail every Wednesday to Inverary and return on Thursday, till further notice. Fares moderate.—hours of sailing to be seen on the boards.

Attempts to match the moderate fares appeared to have backfired, and the management were forced to revoke their offer in July.

The directors of the Inverary, Rothesay, and Toward Castle steam boats, having previously advertised that the fares to be charged on board of said vessels between the Broomielaw and Rothesay, and vice versa, would be reduced equal to that of any other boat, and now finding that these terms leave the fare open, and thus may create disputes with certain passengers, beg leave respectfully to inform the public, that they have now fixed the reduced rate fare betwixt said ports.

The directors grateful for past favors assure the public that no exertion will be wanting on their part a continuance of their patronage. July 1822

The season ended, with the way it began.

Toward Castle (Captain Johnston) will sail from the Broomielaw on Saturday morning the 17th August for Inverary calling at Greenock, Gourock, Rothsay, Tarbert, and Lochgilphead; and return to Glasgow on Monday. 15th August, 1822.

Inverary Castle (Captain Thomson) will sail from the Broomielaw on Saturday morning the 17th August for Inverary calling at Greenock, Gourock, Rothsay, Brodick and Lamlash at one o’clock; and return to Glasgow on Monday. 15th August, 1822.

As in the previous year, the Britannia (Captain Wyse) to Campbeltown once a week and Waterloo (Captain Paul) to Helensburgh were advertised together in April. The Britannia continued her sailings to the Antrim Coast through the summer, on June 11th and August 27th, sailing on Tuesday and returning on Friday, allowing her to sail for Campbeltown on Saturday and return to Glasgow on Monday.

Britannia (Captain Wyse) at the request of a number of gentlemen will sail on Tuesday morning 11th June at half-past four o’clock for at Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay, Campbelton, and the Giant’s Causeway, Londonderry &c. and return to Glasgow on Friday 14th June. Fares moderate.

The Britannia will sail on Saturday next, 8th June, for Greenock, Gourock, Rothesay, Campbelltown and returns to Glasgow on Monday. Hours to be seen on the boards. 6th June, 1822.

In May, the proprietors of the Highlander steam boat announced that the boat will run from Glasgow and Salen, Loch Sunart, in the vicinity of Strontian, calling at Oban, Loch Don, Tobermory, Aros, starting from Glasgow every Tuesday returning from Tobermory on Friday. Salen was well positioned with easy communication to the Hebrides and Skye, and pleasure parties could conveniently visit Staffa and Icolmkill. Comet continued to serve Fort William but also recognized the interest in Staffa and Iona and fit in a visit to the celebrated isles during the season.

The Comet steam packet, Captain R. Bain, will sail from the Broomielaw on the morning of the 8th July, at four o’clock. On her arrival at Fort William, she will, on the following day, leave that place, about mid-day, for he celebrated islands of Staffa and Icolmkill, calling at Oban and Tobermory, and return to Fort William on the evening of the 10th—proceed to Glasgow at the usual time on the morning of Friday the 12th, and thereafter continue to ply betwixt Glasgow and Fort William, on her usual days of sailing, viz. Monday from the former and Thursday from the latter place.

Towards the end of the year, on October 24th, the Comet proceeded through the newly completed locks at Corpach to meet the Stirling in Loch Oich. The Stirling had come from Muirtown and so the completion of the Caledonian Canal was celebrated. Comet had been making connections with the Stirling for some months when the latter was able to sail as far as Banavie. Now it was possible to sail directy through the Canal to Inverness.

Service on the Forth and Clyde Canal was also improved.

Great Canal Passage Boats

Delineations of the Watering Places

List of Steamboats from Delineations of the Watering Places in 1822

An informative List of Steam-Boats plying on the Clyde was compiled by James Smith and presented in a letter of 14th May, 1822:

 Agreeably to your desire, I send you a list of the steam-vessels at present plying upon the River Clyde. The whole of them, except the Liverpool boats, sail from Glasgow to the ports specified in the 2d column; the Liverpool boats go no farther up the river than Greenock. The 3rd column contains the number of horse-power of the engines; the 4th column the tonnage, from which space occupied by the machinery is deducted; and the last column contains the tonnage, calculated in the same manner as other ships. The boats which ply between Glasgow and Greenock generally make two, and frequently three trips a day; and hitherto not a single passenger has lost his life, either from sea-risk, or the nature of the machinery.

James Smith List

James Smith List, 1822

July 1822

List of Vessels in 1822

Some crew in 1822

Some Steamboat Crew Members in 1822



  1. William MacDonald.

    May 17, 2015

    Post a Reply

    Love your site! and would just like to ask if will be doing a page on the MacBrayne Steamers?.

    All the best. Willy

    • valeman

      May 18, 2015

      Post a Reply

      Willy: I’ll be adding some material on MacBrayne Steamers this summer. I’ll tend to do it by the routes that were served. Thanks for the comment.

      • William MacDonald.

        May 21, 2015

        Post a Reply


        Many thanks for your reply.

        If I can help in any way with photos, please me know.


  2. Susan Thomson

    August 5, 2016

    Post a Reply

    As above Captain Dugald Thomson was my Great, Great, Great Grandfather … 1782-1848

    • valeman

      August 19, 2016

      Post a Reply

      Sue: It is always most interesting to hear of relatives of the characters we learn about so fleetingly. Are there any family stories about Captain Thomson?

    • valeman

      October 26, 2017

      Post a Reply

      I’d be interested to see your website. The early songs and poetry associated with the Clyde steamboats has been a continuing interest of mine. There will be a couple of upcoming essays that will include more of them. Graham

  3. Massimo Corradi

    December 12, 2017

    Post a Reply

    are you a bibliography from where did you get this information?
    Thank you

    • valeman

      December 14, 2017

      Post a Reply

      Massimo: Some of the data are not provided with proper references but I can supply sources if you are interested.

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