April 2013 – Club’s 81st Annual General Meeting

The CRSC’s annual general meeting on April 17 at Jurys Inn, Glasgow, was the shortest and most cheerful in living memory. It was followed by a captivating ‘Pictures in Motion’ show by Roy Paterson. About 60 members attended.

The brevity of the business part of the meeting (just 50 minutes), was due partly to the fact that, for the first time in the Club’s peacetime history, there was no handover from one president to another, this being the mid-point in Deryk Docherty’s two-year term under the new constitution. Various other factors, including Deryk’s concise and genial chairmanship, contributed to the swift flow of business. In contrast to the past two AGMs, all posts were filled without a vote being necessary, and the recommendation by the Club’s organising committee to keep the annual subscription rate at £23 met with a hum of approval. The Club noted with sadness the recent deaths of Colin Paterson, a distinguished former managing director of CalMac, and John McKechnie, son of the Club’s first president.

Having previously served as president in 1981-2, Deryk began his review of the 2012-13 session by outlining the benefits of a two-year term of office. Under the old constitution the president only began to get the hang of the job by the time it had to be given up, whereas an extended term enabled the office-holder to use his or her experience to move the Club forward on a number of fronts. Deryk said this could have wider constitutional implications for the Club which, together with the impact of crsc.org.uk and the e-letter, would be discussed in the year ahead.

Referring to the Club’s 80th anniversary in 2012, he thanked the Coastal Cruising Association and Paddle Steamer Preservation Society for cooperating with the CRSC on the joint charter of the Waverley to Ormidale last August — “what a wonderful occasion it was” — and paid tribute to Neil Guthrie for his flawless organisation of the anniversary dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in November. Deryk said meetings during the winter session at Jurys Inn had been extremely well attended, thanks to the quality of the speakers and subject-matter.

Turning to the impact of the Club’s website, which was sometimes attracting more than 1,000 hits a day, and the e-letter, of which there had so far been three editions, he noted that the CRSC could not afford to stand still. While nostalgia and camaraderie were a vital part of the Club’s life, the interests of the many members who lived beyond the west of Scotland had to be taken into consideration. Deryk referred to the website as “a superb facility” and thanked info Charles McCrossan for his “enormous input”. The number of paid-up members was rising for the first time in more than two decades, and most of those who had joined at the discounted introductory rate were now subscribing at the full rate.

On the cruising front, Club members had shown enthusiastic support for nominated excursions on the Waverley in October and Hebrides in January. As for the Club’s publications, Deryk saluted the “unstinting efforts” of the editors of the annual Review and magazine, the former amounting to a mammoth 64,000 words. The Club’s calendar, a joint production with the West Highland Steamer Club, had been a sell-out, and sales of photographs, videos and other merchandise had been healthy. Public support for the recent Ship Ahoy exhibition, organised jointly with other organisations, had greatly exceeded expectations.  He commended committee members Robert Cleary, Stuart Craig and Archie MacCallum for the time and effort they had devoted to making the event a success.

Turning to honorary secretary Eric Schofield and honorary treasurer Billy Tomlinson, who were sitting on either side of him, Deryk said their wealth of knowledge of the Club had been a great support: “they carry most responsibility for the business side of the Club, and do so in a quiet and efficient manner” — words that won spontaneous applause from everyone present.

In his secretary’s report, Eric noted there had been six committee meetings during the year, and the Club had fielded many inquiries, including one from the BBC about a proposed programme featuring Clyde-built blockade-runners in the 1860s.

In his treasurer’s report, Billy said the Club had struck the right balance between expenditure and income. While the rising cost of postage would be monitored closely, expenditure was under control. It was agreed that there would be no increase in subscription for the coming year but this would be reviewed again next year.  Shop sales over the past 12 months had proved “very beneficial”, and the Waverley charter had shown the wisdom of pooling resources with other organisations. Expressing surprise that his message had been “not too doleful”, he ended on an uncharacteristically upbeat note: “I feel quite happy tonight”.

The business part of the meeting was followed by two pictorial presentations by Roy Paterson. “The Ormidale Landings” was an account of the Waverley charter last summer, put together in such a skilful, seamless way that photographic stills were made to resemble film footage — an impression heightened by Roy’s tasteful choice of taped music. The involvement of The Second Snark was well documented, so that we saw both ships in action along with a host of Clydeside scenes. Among the most memorable sequences were the tendering process at Ormidale and a brief movie of the Waverley’s paddle wheels in slow motion.

This was followed by “Clyde Steamers on Canvas”, a series of 49 paintings by artist and Club member Hugh McGill, expertly photographed by Nick Wober and linked by Roy’s choice of music. Hugh McGill’s reputation as one of the outstanding steamer artists was bolstered by this selection covering the period from 1877 (the first Lord of the Isles) to 1957 (the car ferry Glen Sannox). Every ship was depicted in her original livery against a background of the Clyde’s magnificent scenery. One of the best, for its sense of proportion and character, was the Jeanie Deans in her 1946-7 condition.

In her vote of thanks, past president Elsie Hinshalwood saluted Roy for his imaginative and technically perfect presentation.

In his closing remarks, Deryk Docherty wished all members a good summer and noted that the Club’s next meeting at Jurys Inn would be on Wednesday 9 October at 7.30pm.