All tickets please (9)

‘To say Kilcreggan travellers were pleased with the return of ‘their own vessel’ is putting it mildly’: Chieftain on 14 May 2018

A simple paper ticket for an everyday journey can sometimes assume deeper significance when the story behind it is revealed. In the latest of his ticket-inspired tales, Eric Schofield uncovers one such case.

No. 9  Gourock/Kilcreggan Return

At first sight, the white ‘till roll’ paper ticket printed on a machine with software designed for bus journey operations seems hardly worth retaining, but it is a combination of the name of the vessel and date of travel that makes this ‘throwaway’ style of travel receipt significant, and therefore worth adding to my collection of memorabilia.

Anyone who pays even the slightest attention to the comings and goings of ferries on the upper Firth in recent years, whether steamer enthusiasts, locals or occasional visitors to the Roseneath Peninsula, will have been aware of the travel difficulties with the Gourock/Kilceggan ferry service.

Regular travellers had their spirits uplifted earlier this year when it was confirmed that Clyde Marine had been re-awarded the contract to run the service from mid July. These same travellers were even more buoyed up when, following further disruptions, the previous operator’s contract was terminated early on 12 May and Clyde Marine agreed to commence operation just two days later.

The vessel chosen was MV Chieftain — none other than the former MV Seabus which had covered the service from her introduction in 2007 until 2012, at which time the Helensburgh part of the original service was withdrawn. Regrettably the ship’s return to the Gourock/Kilcreggan route has not seen a re-introduction of the Helensburgh connection.

I came down to Gourock in time for Chieftain’s fifth run on her first day back.  Never have I seen so many passengers and local residents of Kilcreggan with beaming smiles on their faces. To say they were pleased with the return of Clyde Marine to the route and the return of ‘their own vessel’ is putting it mildly. Not even the sizeable jump in fare, from £5 return to £7, could dampen their spirits.

An indication of how hurriedly Clyde Marine had taken up this duty was evident as we sailed over: one of the crew could be seen busily splicing berthing hoops in new ropes during the crossing to Kilcreggan and back.

At Kilcreggan: local residents were overjoyed by the return of the Clyde Marine service

Picturesqe: Kilcreggan has one of the few remaining traditional Clyde steamer piers

All aboard for Gourock: Chieftain leaves Kilcreggan on the return crossing

Rope splicing on Chieftain

Approaching Gourock

Welcome back: Chieftain has returned to the run she first undertook as Seabus in 2007

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

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Published on 3 November 2018