In the 1860s, a boat yard was built at the mouth of the burn at Rosneath on the Gareloch by Archibald McKellar. In May 1909, the yard was purchased by James Silver, a local man who had served his apprenticeship in the yard, and a yacht designer, John McCallum, and they set about building yachts of high quality. The business failed in 1914 and was taken over by Ferguson and Thompson, Ltd., of Glasgow who retained James Silver as manager and continued the business under the name of James A. Silver, Ltd. A new designer, John Bain, arrived at the yard and became the yard manager when James Silver left in 1916. The firm developed a reputation for the production of high quality motor yachts at Rosneath in the 1920s and 1930s. Their designs and their methods are well documented in the publication “Motor Yacht Building” by John Bain that was published in the late 1930s. The firm closed its doors in July 1971.
This 36 ft Silverette was capable of just over 8 knots , driven by two 12 hp Morris engines. The accommodation consisted of two folding cot berths in the forecastle that adjoined the saloon and galley with two more berths in the aft cabin.
The Brisk was built in 1931. She was a 62 ft wooden construction driven by two 60 hp Gleniffer diesel engines and capable of 10.6 knots. There was self-contained accommodation for a crew of three in the forecastle, a forward double berth cabin, a single cabin amidships and the owner’s cabin aft, in addition to a galley, dining saloon, saloon, bathrooms and toilets.
The firm also built orders for foreign owners. The state barge Baqqa was ordered by an owner in the Gulf.
The Sandpoint Yard of Robert McAlister & Son at Dumbarton
The Sandpoint yard at the mouth of the Leven in Dumbarton was another location famous for the construction of sailing yachts and steam yachts. It was owned by Robert McAlister & Son from 1885 but in 1908, the firm of McLaren Brothers, Ltd., set up as a builder of motor yachts, lasting until 1926. Latterly they had strong connections with the James Silver at Rosneath on the Gareloch.
Rosneath Bay (McLaren Brothers, Dumbarton)
The picture of the fine motor yachts with a backdrop of the merchant ships laid up in the Gareloch during and after the trade depression of the late 1920s provides an interesting contrast. Some better-off working men with an interest in answering the “call of the sea” began purchasing motorized lifeboats available as many of the older merchant ships were scrapped. These were converted into “cabin cruisers” and saw much use on the Clyde and Leven.
Ships laid up in the Gareloch around 1929
Yachts were far beyond the reach of the unemployed. The Renton photographer, William McKim, however, provided some relief to a few men who were laid-off. Equipped with a camera, they provided an excellent record of the times.
Looking across the Gareloch to Shandon Hydropathic Hotel (McKim)
Maudorces was a 42 ft yacht of wooden construction with a 32 hp Morris engine driving two propellors. She was built in 1925 by McLaren Brothers, Ltd., for Mr. Charles J. Waldie of Glasgow.
Phyllis Irene (McGeachie)
The Phyllis Irene came from McLaren Brothers in 1926 for Mr Alexander Watson of Rutherglen. At just over 39 feet, she was powered by two Bergius paraffin engines.
One of the leading lights in shipbuilding in Dumbarton, Walter Brock, ordered a motor yacht, Papakura, from McLaren Brothers in 1912. At 60ft long by 11 and a half feet in the beam, she was powered by a Bolinders motor of 80 hp. It would appear that a new Papakura was built around 1927, and this is the vessel shown here, completed by Silver at Rosneath.
Seahawk at Caladh Harbour in the Kyles of Bute (Cuthbert Spencer)
Demand for motor yachts was high. The Seahawk was built in 1929 by the Rigidus Boat Co., of Whiteinch. She was powered by two Gleniffer motors of 80 hp.
Seahawk in the Kyles of Bute in 1936
The remaining pictures await more information. The neat looking Waveney dates from 1927, while the remaining motor yacht, is unidentified.
unidentified motor yacht in the Kyles of Bute