The Latter Years of Iona

By on Jun 13, 2017 in Ardrishaig, Arrochar, Broomielaw, Clyde River and Firth, Colintraive, Douglas Pier, Fort William, Glasgow Harbour, Greenock, Kentallen, Oban, Otter Ferry, Rothesay, Tarbert | 0 comments

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 (Valentine)

Iona picking her way through Glasgow Harbour

Iona at Dunoon (Poulton)

Iona at Rothesay

Iona leaving Rothesay (Poulton)

Iona at Colintraive

Heading up river off Greenock

In 1890, Iona was reboilered, but otherwise, this schedule was maintained till the turn of the century. With two steamers available, there was also the opportunity for excursion traffic.

Iona on an excursion (Robertson)

Iona at Arrochar

In 1902, the new turbine King Edward intruded into the MacBrayne fiefdom by running a service to Tarbert and Ardrishaig from Fairlie and the response from Messrs MacBrayne was swift and decisive. Iona sailed as before at 5:45 but terminated her run at Greenock, from where passengers for the Broomielaw caught Grenadier, berthed overnight at Rothesay and sailing to Glasgow, returning at 1:30 to Rothesay and Kyles of Bute piers.

After a quick turn around at Greenock, Iona sailed for Wemyss Bay, then direct for Ardrishaig, arriving shortly after Columba. She took the mail service for the usual pier calls to Greenock from where she returned in the evening at 5:10 to Ardrishaig, calling at Wemyss Bay, Rothesay, Colintraive, Tighnabruich, and Tarbert. This allowed Columba to make a later departure from Ardrishaig.

Iona at Greenock

Iona at speed

The following year, the Grenadier connection was dropped and there was no afternoon Broomielaw sailing. On her return to Ardrishaig on certain days in the high season, Iona was able to call at Otter Ferry, a pier that was at one time served by the Inveraray steamer, Lord of the Isles, but that had been dropped from her schedule in the competition with the turbine steamers. They switched their attention from Tarbert and Ardrishaig to the seat of the Dukes of Argyll.

Iona at Otter Ferry (Spencer)

The schedule for Iona and Columba remained much the same until the First Word War.

Iona loading passengers at Rothesay (Stengel)

Iona leaving Rothesay (Stengel)

Iona arriving at Ardrishaig (Stengel)

Iona off the Bullwood making smoke

Iona at Rothesay

Iona and Columba at Ardrishaig in 1913 (Valentine)

In 1914, she added extra lifeboats on the forward sponsons. Iona maintained the Ardrishaig service on her own in 1915, while Columba was laid up and in the following years, Iona was placed on charter to the Caledonian Steam Packet Co.

After the war, Iona was spare steamer and provided excursions around the Clyde. In 1922 she was placed on the Lochgoilhead and Arrochar service that had had a rather uncertain service since the demise of the Lochgoil and Lochlong Company.

Iona in Rothesay Bay in the 1920s (Adamson)

Iona off Dunoon in the early 1920s (McGeachie)

Iona off Gourock (Robertson)

Iona at Douglas Pier on Lochgoil (Valentine)

Iona at Lochgoilhead (Valentine)

Iona and Waverley at Arrochar

Iona off Dunoon in 1930

When Grenadier was burned at the end of the 1927 season, Iona was moved to Oban for the 1928 season where she took over the Oban to Fort William service. It is on that service that she spent the remainder of her career, being broken up alongside Columba after the 1935 season.

Iona at Oban in 1931 (Judges)

Iona at Kentallen in her last season (Valentine)

Iona passing Corran Narrows in her last season (Valentine)

The Royal Route, I. McCrorie, I. C. MacArthur (Ed.), Clyde River Steamer Club, Glasgow, 1978.

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