CRSC President Iain Morgan recalls his astonishment when, on a boyhood visit to the Albert Harbour in Greenock, he found Jeanie Deans and Waverley berthed side-by-side with different hull colours.
This photo was taken in March 1965 with the new 35mm camera I had been given as a Christmas present some three months earlier. It shows two broadly similar paddlers in different liveries — Jeanie Deans in the ‘old’ Caledonian Steam Packet Company livery of black hull and Waverley in the new livery of blue hull, which was introduced throughout the British Railways fleet that year.
The opportunity to take such an unusual shot came during what had become a regular monthly pilgrimage to the Albert Harbour to see the steamers in their winter haven of rest. When I happened upon the newly painted Waverley, it took me by surprise. Until that point I had known only black hulls. ‘Monastral blue’ (as it was described by the CSP) looked more colourful but also a bit unnatural. It took some getting used to — as did red lions on the funnels, which were introduced to the CSP fleet that same year but, at the time of my visit to Greenock, had yet to be affixed to Waverley.
This picture was included in the first film I took with my new camera and I was really pleased with the outcome. What is that I hear you saying — the first film after three months with a new camera? Well, for a teenager in the 1960s, a 20-exposure film for a 35mm camera was relatively expensive (36-exposure if you felt really flush) and great care had to be taken with each photograph. Not like today when digital images can be taken by the dozen at no cost!
The contrast of seeing the two paddlers, built some 16 years apart but with a broadly similar outline and both Craigendoran-based, was stark. One, still with winter caps on her funnels, had an uncertain future and was soon to leave the Clyde. The other was being made ready for the new summer season.
Could we really have imagined then that, over 50 years later, the remaining one would be sporting yet another livery and still be in service?
Jeanie Deans lasted two accident-prone seasons on the Thames before being sold to the breakers in Belgium. By 1969 the Albert Harbour, winter home to the Clyde excursion fleet for more than five decades, had been filled in with rubble from the demolished Princes Pier buildings nearby, and in 1970 the Clyde fleet reverted to black hulls, having sported the ‘monastral blue’ livery for just five seasons.
Since my visit to Greenock all those years ago, pretty much everything has changed — except for the moment in time captured by my photograph.
See also ‘Photo of the month’ for