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...

Southbank Grouping and Tartan Lums

on May 21, 2017

The Caledonian Steam Packet Co. Ltd. had all of its steamships called up for duty in World War I and had to rely on chartered vessels for much of the emergency. As with the other companies that had steamers serving, most of those that had survived the dangerous war time duties returned in dribs and drabs during 1919. Two of the steamers, Duchess of Hamilton and Duchess of Montrose, had been lost while minesweeping during the war. At the beginning of April, Duchess of Fife returned to the Clyde, followed a few days later by Caledonia, damaged badly in a collision with a freighter on the Seine. In the last week of the month, Duchess of Rothesay arrived and a few days later, the turbine Duchess of Argyll, while Marchioness of Breadalbane appeared on the first of May. The remaining unit of the fleet, Marchioness of Lorne, did not return until 1921 and was laid up in Bowling Harbour for a...

Neil Snodgrass’ Cigar

on May 14, 2017

An engraving by Joseph Swan in the book Strath-Clutha by John M. Leighton, published in 1839 shows an unusual vessel in the harbour of Glasgow. The vessel looks to have a twin hull with a series of galleries forming the superstructure. It is almost certainly the early iron steamer nicknamed Cigar that was built on an unusual and patent model for Mr. Neil Snodgrass in 1837. In his obituary in the Glasgow Herald of February 5, 1849, we learn a little of the background of Mr. Snodgrass though some of the details are inaccurate and have been added to from other sources. Mr. Snodgrass was born at Craigie in Ayr around 1776 and was educated at Ayr Academy where he achieved high honours in Mathematics. In 1794, he went to work in the cotton factory of Messrs. George Houston & Co., Johnstone, where he developed a plan for heating the factory by steam rather than the dangerous stoves then...

Craigendoran Steamers between the Wars

on Apr 27, 2017

The North British paddle steamers sailing out of their base at Craigendoran were able to maintain services well into the early years of the First World War. In 1915, Waverley continued sailing to Arrochar and Lochgoilhead until September when she was called up to join Marmion which had gone in June. Kenilworth had been reboilered early in the year and appeared that season with her fore-saloon extended to the full width of the hull and her bridge brought forward of the funnel. She served the Dunoon and Holy Loch connection along with Talisman while Lucy Ashton maintained service to the Gareloch piers. Dandie Dinmont was the spare boat. It was 1917 before Talisman and Kenilworth went to war, leaving Lucy Ashton and Dandie Dimont to cover the Craigendoran services for the remainder of the emergency. Dandie Dinmont approaching Dunoon around 1920 (McGeachie)   Kenilworth in Rothesay Bay...