A 90th anniversary dip into the digital archive

CRSC’s 90th anniversary logo was designed by Club member Terry Primrose

Roy Paterson had a lot to live up to in his latest CRSC presentation: only a year ago, also on Zoom, he gave us insights into the wealth of black-and-white images in the Club’s digital archive, including some documenting the Clyde scene as far back as a century and a half ago. For this new presentation, given on 14 September in honour of the Club’s 90th anniversary, Roy focused exclusively on colour images from the 1950s to the 2000s. It proved no less enthralling, as Andy Anderson reports.

At the start of the meeting, CRSC president Robin Copland invited those present to share a few moments of silent reflection in the light of the recent passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

In the past (writes Andy Anderson) I have at times been so looking forward to an event that when it comes along there remains a possibility that all expectations may not be entirely met!

No such fears on this occasion: Roy delivered a splendid evening which amounted to far more than a ‘dip’ into the digital archive.

His opening remarks set the tone: we were to have an evening of ‘full colour’ photography to reflect the rich variety of photographs which CRSC members have donated to the archive over the past decade.

ABCs and Maids: Arran and Maid of Cumbrae midway between Dunoon and Gourock in 1976

The opening shot set the bar high — a beautiful 1969 portrait of Duchess of Hamilton approaching the incomplete Kingston Bridge, having just set off from Bridge Wharf on a trip ‘doon the watter’. This was followed by a succession of wonderful images — of cross-river ferries on the upper river, through Renfrew and Erskine and onward to the Firth and beyond.

Roy then carried us through a veritable heyday of Clyde and related passenger vessels over the past 70 years. Everyone’s favourite paddlers — Jeanie Deans, CaledoniaTalisman, Waverley — featured along with the majestic turbines, ‘Maids’, ABC ferries, ‘Streakers’, representatives of MacBraynes, Burns Laird and Coast Lines, as well as unusual shots of Isle of Man Steam Packet Company steamers at Ardrossan, Ayr and Rothesay.

Car ferry favourites such as Pioneer, Claymore and the 1957 Glen Sannox made a welcome sight, and Roy also found a place for small vessels such as Ashton, Leven, Countess of Breadalbane, Keppel and the ‘Loch’ class ferries.

We were accompanied on this journey by the various changes of livery and design over the years — hull colours black or ‘monastral’ blue, funnel colours buff and red, lions or no lions, masts shortened or original length, ‘goalposts’ or not, paddle-boxes white or black, side-loading or stern ramp, one funnel or two — I’m exhausted! All in glorious colour.

Loch Carron and Clansman at Oban in 1974

There were valuable reminders of winter layup in the Albert Harbour (my favourite was a stern view of the two ‘Duchesses’ next to Queen Mary II), of cattle being herded on and off ferries, of busy piers requiring excellent shiphandling on board and equally excellent rope handling ashore. Splendid stuff!

Resounding applause from the 50 or so present was afforded to Roy, not just for his presentation but also for his work in securing this treasure trove of photography in digital format.

In his closing remarks Roy acknowledged the foresight and generosity of the photographers who, by donating their collections to CRSC, have enabled their images to be more widely appreciated:

James Anderson, Walter Bowie, Robin Boyd, Richard Coton, John Goss, Roy Hamilton, David Landale, John Liddell, Iain MacArthur, James S McCaul, Lawrence Macduff, Fraser MacHaffie, Dr Joe McKendrick, Eric Schofield, Margaret Skee, John Thomas.

Paid-up CRSC members can see all 150 images in Roy Paterson’s presentation by clicking here.

You can join CRSC for £10 here.

Published on 19 September 2022