All tickets please (20)

In the latest of his trips down memory lane, prompted by a superb collection of tickets, Eric Schofield takes a nostalgic look at the ‘Day Sea Rover’.

Day Sea Rover Leaflet 1963

In any series of articles about Clyde steamer tickets it would be remiss of me not to consider a day trip ticket that was, if not unique, quite rare in offering the purchaser a remarkable variety of options.

The topography of the Firth of Clyde, with its unrivalled number of piers in relatively close proximity, coupled with the interaction between basic ferry services and pleasure cruises, provided the perfect setting in which the holder of a Day Sea Rover ticket could experience many and varied days out on the waters of the Firth. With timetable to hand, the day’s sailings could be planned in advance or substitute itineraries be quickly considered if, say, a vessel ran late, thus missing a connecting sailing. 

Introduced in 1963 the Day Sea Rover ticket, initially priced at 15/-, was available up until 1972, by then costing £2.10. Twelve of the ‘Rover’ tickets I used have survived in my collection: they were issued on the following vessels:

19/7/65   Duchess of Hamilton

30/5/66   Waverley

21/6/66   Talisman

6/8/66     Duchess of Hamilton

2/6/67     Maid of Cumbrae

Day Sea Rover: ‘a flexibility unchallenged in any other area offering day excursions sailings’

6/7/69     Waverley

14/9/69   PS Caledonia

27/3/70   Maid of Argyll

5/7/70     Queen Mary II

1/8/70     Bute

27/9/71   Queen Mary II

25/9/72   MV Caledonia

Writing this piece during the Covid-19 lockdown makes the restrictions on freedom of movement seem even more abhorrent when the subject matter is about the wonderfully relaxed and carefree pleasures to be had when in possession of a Day Sea Rover.

At the start of the period when such tickets were available, the Clyde fleet had four paddle steamers, three turbine steamers, seven passenger motor vessels and four car/passenger ferries. This was gradually whittled down to one paddler and one turbine steamer, three passenger motor vessels, five car/passenger ferries plus a further five small bow loading car/passenger ferries by 1972.

Rather than focussing in on just one of my Rover ticket days, I felt that this was an opportunity to give a ‘highlights’ programme —  a selection of images obtained on the above listed occasions, all apart from my 1972 trip when camera failure intervened.

Hopefully this glance at past glories will help to fill the void until such time as we can get back aboard a CalMac Clyde ferry or, more tantalisingly, a reboilered and revitalised Waverley.

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19 July 1965: Cowal on the Wemyss Bay, Largs and Millport sailing, viewed from Duchess of Hamilton, with both vessels bound for Largs. The ‘Hamilton’ was on her Monday Campbeltown sailing

19 July 1965: Maid of Argyll off Farland Point

30 May 1966: Maid of Cumbrae sets off from Dunoon ‘with a bone in her teeth’

30 May 1966: Waverley arriving at Gourock, with Maid of Skelmorlie in the foreground

21 June 1966: Talisman on a rare visit to Arrochar in her final summer on the Firth. Waverley had broken down on Sunday the 19th,  and so her former LNER fleetmate was transferred from Millport for a few days of Craigendoran sailings, including a Round Bute cruise on Monday 20th. Waverley resumed her regular roster on Friday 24th

21 June 1966: Arran arriving at Dunoon

2 June 1967: Lochfyne approaches Innellan on the return journey of the Ardrishaig mail run

6 July 1969: Duchess of Hamilton lies alongside at Dunoon as Waverley races off. This was her first summer with shortened masts, a cause of much negative comment in enthusiast circles

6 July 1969: ‘A feather in her cap’ as Duchess of Hamilton departs Keppel Pier for Lochranza and Campbeltown

6 July 1969: Glen Sannox heads for Fairlie, viewed from Waverley on the Sunday afternoon Millport-Kyles of Bute excursion

6 July 1969: Waverley leaves Largs in the last summer of blue hulls on the Clyde

14 September 1969: Waverley arriving at Dunoon on the Sunday afternoon Kyles cruise from Craigendoran

27 March 1970: Easter Monday morning and the Clyde Pilot boats, Cloch and Cumbrae, enjoy the morning sun along with Maid of Cumbrae, Cowal and Duchess of Hamilton

27 March 1970: the MacBrayne car ferry Clansman, with yellow funnel while on charter to the CSP, lies at Gourock during her five-month spell on the Dunoon service

5 July 1970: the brand new Iona succeeded Clansman on the Gourock-Dunoon service

1 August 1970: with Glen Sannox running late, Countess of Breadalbane is pressed into assisting on the Gourock-Dunoon service to help move the crowds

27 September 1971: Waverley as autumn holiday weekend relief vessel at Brodick. Note the stump foremast: she lost the top half at Arrochar on 15 July after being blown against the pier, and continued in this state until early the following year

ALL TICKETS PLEASE — the series so far:
Excursion to Ardrishaig with return journey up-river to Glasgow
Helensburgh to Holy Loch Cruise
Ardgour to Nether Lochaber (Corran)
Princes Dock to Ardrishaig and back via the Millport Illuminations
Campbeltown to Craigendoran
Campbeltown to Red Bay
Arran Embarkation Tickets and Brodick/Craigendoran single
Tobermory to Drimnin
Gourock/Kilcreggan return
The Short Sea Route and Larne/Islandmagee ferry
Up-river to view QE2 before launch
Glenfiddich pub menu (holiday trip to Denmark)
Midsummer amendments at Oban
Oban to Oban via Craignure, Lochaline and Corran
Cairnryan to Belfast with Stena Line
Visits to Gigha over the past 50 years
Unusual visits to Mull
By Clansman and Caledonian Isles to Arran
Scotland’s turntable ferries
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Published on 21 June 2020