January 2013 Meeting – Sunset on CSP; Sunrise on CalMac

The first CRSC meeting of 2013 took place on January 9 at Jurys Inn, Glasgow, under the title “Sunset on CSP, Sunrise on CalMac”. Iain Quinn, speaking without notes, regaled us with another of his fascinating slide-shows, examining the remarkable transformation that took place on the Firth of Clyde in the early and mid 1970s
Judging by the rapid changes in ownership, fleet composition, cruise rosters, piers, livery and atmosphere, it was one of the most action-packed and revolutionary periods in Clyde shipping history. Recounting last steamer calls at Ardrishaig, Arrochar, Craigendoran, Fairlie, Innellan and Keppel, Iain brought back memories of the devastating impact of economic change on the Clyde and the fast-developing focus on point-to-point traffic – culminating in the arrival of Western Ferries in 1973.
The early 1970s were the years when the Duchess of Hamilton was put up for sale, the Queen Mary II underwent internal modernisation, the Maid of Cumbrae became a car ferry and the Arran a stern loader. Iain showed a preference for the Maid of Cumbrae’s “fireman’s helmet funnel” over her original outline and, recalling the foggy day when the Queen Mary II dented her bow off the Cloch, said “the sound of that tug hitting the Mary will never leave me”.
Among the more unusual pictures he showed were a red-funnelled CalMac Bute still with CSP house-flag, a red-funnelled Queen Mary II next to a yellow-funnelled Keppel at Largs, and three “Island” class ferries on the stocks at Port Glasgow next to the Waverley with red-yellow-and-black funnels – a picture taken when CalMac were trying out colour schemes but this one was never adopted. A wave of nostalgia swept the room as Iain showed slides of the old Gourock Pier buildings in their distressed finery, of the Cowal picking up the last gangway at Fairlie Pier, of the Maid of the Loch in active service “when she was still a teenager” and of a yellow-funnelled Glen Sannox making an impressive arrival at Wemyss Bay. 
Throughout his talk Iain paid handsome tribute to his father, Edward Quinn, who had introduced him to the ways of the Firth from an early age and taken many fine colour photographs, and to CRSC Honorary President Robin Boyd, whose absence due to ill health was much lamented. Reminding us of how unsuited the King George V was to the CalMac yellow discs and lions, Iain nevertheless underlined what a handsome ship she was, quoting Robin’s view that “you would suffer the KGV in any funnel colour”.
Iain gave his audience just the tonic they needed in the dead of winter. Roy Paterson gave the vote of thanks.

The following images are not from the evening’s presentation but are indicative of the period covered, and are included in the spirit of having the website provide distant members, and others who are unable to attend, with some idea of our meetings and presentations.  Some alternative images have been supplied by Iain Quinn, and others as indicated.

From the Iain Quinn collection
Iona at Brodick – 290172

Cowal off Gourock -1972

Maid of Cumbrae – 1972

  Glen Sannox and Pilot Cutter Cloch off Gourock – 230673
Caledonia at Brodick – 200473

Queen Mary II at Keppel Pier showing off CSP funnel – 1971
Maid of Cumbrae at Dunoon – 1973King George V laid up at end of summer 1973
Glen Sannox leaving Dunoon

Loch Arkaig in drydock at Greenock with a fine array of steamer funnels behind

From the Andrew Clark collection
The Maid of Cumbrae with her fireman’s helmet funnel


The Queen Mary II in August 1972 with stove in bow

The King George V at Tobermory
in 1973 with the Iona

Maid of the Loch –
still a teenager in 1971


From the Peter Knight collection
Waverley approaching Largs with red lions on CSP funnelsKing George V at Greenock 

Waverley with red funnels and Lions

Waverley departing Largs with red funnels and lions
King George V and Claymore
at Greenock    

Queen Mary with shortened masts, red funnel and lions approaching Largs