Our latest Members Night, on 9 February, featured photographic presentations by Charles McCrossan, Iain MacKinnon, Stuart McMahon and Colin Smith. Attended by 96 members and friends, it ranged over a surprisingly wide and varied set of subjects, throwing up all sorts of revealing contrasts. Judging by the feedback at the end of each section, Members Night continues to be one of the most popular components of the CRSC calendar, writes Carrie MacKinnon.
Charles McCrossan began the evening with ‘Then and Now, Been and Gone’ — a series of archive photos of the River Clyde matched to his own shots of the same locations in recent times. Prefaced with informative comments about how the CRSC digital archive was compiled, Charles took the unusual path of focusing not on the boats in each picture but the surrounding buildings and landmarks.
The shipyards that we saw in the older images were replaced in the more up-to-date shots by high-rise blocks and shopping centres. What stood out in these ‘then and now’ scenes was the big cranes: many had survived, quite rightly standing as monuments to the Clyde’s shipbuilding heritage.
One of my favourite images was of St Andrew’s Cathedral in the centre of Glasgow — once part of the historic landscape on the north bank of the river, now surrounded by modern buildings.
Reminding us that the preserved sailing ship Carrick had once been part of that landscape, Charles gave us an update on her new location in the Australian city of Adelaide (after which she has been renamed) and on development plans for the harbour area where she is now berthed. His talk ended with shipping photographs from the Mersey and the Tyne, underlining that the riches of the CRSC digital archive are not confined to the Clyde.
Iain MacKinnon was next with a fluent and witty talk titled ‘Ferries, Me and the CRSC’. His opening shots, chosen for their childhood associations, featured ‘streakers’ and Western Ferries vessels in the Dunoon area, where his father worked. We heard that Iain’s family originally hailed from Mull and that Dad worked in Oban on a Friday: he would bring home freshly landed fish from the fishing boats in Oban Harbour, saying it was definitely the best way to eat fish!
Illustrating his talk with the help of photos supplied by Eric Schofield and Stuart Craig, Iain took on the role of storyteller, sharing his early memories of the ferries before offering a punchy commentary on two of the club’s prized excursions organised by Neil Guthrie — to Colonsay via Oban and Islay via Kennacraig.
Finally stepping in to the frame himself, he bravely applied the same scrutiny to Carrie his wife (me!). The conclusion Iain drew from these trips was that, to get the most out of our Club, you have to ‘get involved’. Let’s hope we will soon be able to recreate the sort of excursions Iain recounted.
Stuart McMahon took us north! Stuart is a relatively new member of CRSC, having joined during lockdown, but he is no stranger, having for some time been a contributor to our Facebook page. In a talk titled ‘Ferries of the North’, he recalled touring Orkney in 1990 a C-reg red Ford Fiesta — the first of a series of adventures there that continue to this day. He used his holiday experiences in Orkney and Shetland to offer some wonderful insights into the ferries that ply north of the Pentland Firth. He even went as far as the Faroe Islands on the Smyril Line ships.
His photographs featured both interior shots and external beauties. For me, the one that stood out was the long exposure in Stromness harbour. Stuart’s passion for the area is clear and his enthusiasm for bird watching, boats and photography shone through.
Colin Smith’s talk, ‘Waverley and Friends 2021’, was a photographic memoir of Waverley in various ports and locations on the Clyde last summer, often accompanied by her friends in the CalMac fleet: lots of atmospheric shots where you could almost hear the paddles of the old lady beating! Colin clearly sacrificed some days of fine-weather sailing in order to bring us these magnificent shore-based shots.
There was an intriguing side-by-side comparison of the paddler at Ardrishaig in 1975 and 2021 — the older photo taken during her first visit there in active preservation, and the latest dating from her return last summer: apart from a different paint job, the day could have been the same! Commenting on his shots of Azamara Quest leaving her lockdown home in King George V Dock at Braehead, Colin pointed out the poignant ‘Thank You Glasgow!’ banner pinned to her side.
Those of us who were on Waverley that day saw the cruise ship leave from our position off the coast of Arran. It reminded us of how lucky we were to have had such a fantastic Waverley season in these strange times.