Members’ Night on February 12 took the theme of “Steamer Anniversaries”. There were nine contributors, including one from the Lake District and one from Stornoway. Each interpreted the theme in a markedly different way, so there was no duplication of material. Despite an exceptionally poor run of winter weather, our room at Jurys Inn, Glasgow, was well filled. This was one of the most successful Members’ Nights of recent years.
Please note that the images shown below have been selected from some of the member presentations on the night and are shown as a mixed collection of images to reflect the flavour of the evening, and not in sequence for any one presenter.
Graeme Dunlop began the proceedings with “40 years ago”, a personal photographic diary of 1974. We were treated to crisp winter scenes at the East India Harbour, glimpses of Countess of Kempock at Gourock, Sound of Islay at McInroy’s Point and Cowal on a caravan run at Largs, and attractive shots of two CalMac ferries that entered service that year — Pioneer and Suilven.
Duncan Graham made the perfectly reasonable claim that he may be the only person still alive to have sailed (and worked) on the Loch Lomond paddler Prince Edward. This took us back to 1954, her last season. Atmospheric slides reminded us of the positioning of her wheel abaft the funnel, of her hell-fire stokehold, of Loch Lomond paddlers’ mast rot, of the remarkable ‘ladies from the Vale’ who staffed the dining saloon — pictured in all its Edwardian splendour. We were told of how Prince Edward could show the new Maid of the Loch ‘a clean pair of heels’ and that in retrospect she might have been a better prospect for preservation.
Douglas Rolland’s selection oscillated between 1964 and 1974, allowing us to appreciate the stillness of King George V cleaving the waters of the Corran Narrows, the silence of steamers laid up in Queen’s Dock, the quaintness of a piano being manhandled aboard Duchess of Hamilton at Dunoon. There were also photographs of an SRN6 hovercraft at Portavadie — probably the earliest passenger call there.
Eric Schofield brought us up to date with a “25 years on” look at Lord of the Isles, launched in 1989. This took the form of an intriguing sequence of photographs of LOTI approaching and leaving Lochboisdale last autumn — all taken from unusual angles, thereby adding to Eric’s reputation as master of the unexpected shot. Most distinctive of all were the pictures taken from high up Ben Kenneth, giving us a bird’s eye view of the LOTI’s berthing procedures.
Alistair Deayton reminded us that this year is the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Iona — the third steamer to bear that name and the first in the world to have steam steering and engine room telegraphs (1873). The beauty of one of the longest-serving Hutcheson-MacBrayne steamers was well captured in a variety of locations, from Ardrishaig to Corpach.
Colin Tucker’s “six days, 12 islands and 13 ships” was a memoir of his first trip to the Western Isles just under 50 years ago — a travelogue that took in Lismore on Loch Toscaig, Skye on Loch Arkaig, Barra on Claymore and Lewis on Loch Seaforth. We were regaled with tales of the bus at Uig waiting for the delayed arrival of Hebrides, and the train at Kyle being held for Loch Seaforth. “Today they would be penalised.”
Donald McColl took us beyond Scottish waters — to the happy hunting ground of the Solent, whose shipping he has known for many a year. On this occasion he showed images of some relatively up to date craft — ranging from three Port Glasgow-built Red Funnel ferries to the “Saint” class, as well as the 1930 Calshot and the former Clyde sludge boat Shieldhall.
Donald Stirling focused on “imprecisely linked ship anniversaries” — a highly personal selection taking in the Cromarty Firth, Lakes Windermere and Como, and the Hong Kong ‘Star’ ferries, as well as CalMac ships. There were beautifully composed photographs of Coruisk and Ali Cat at Gourock and Juno and Saturn at Rosneath, a glimpse of Lochbuie at Iona, a portrait of Bute mid-channel and an unusually detailed shot of Sound of Seil’s sparkling engine room. Donald either has an expensive camera or an exceptional eye — almost certainly the latter.
John Newth’s choice of “Sisters….almost” was the most idiosyncratic of all. He book-ended his presentation with images of two “nearly sisters” that started operating in 1954, Arran and Cowal, but the crux of his tale concerned two often overlooked “nearly sisters” that were withdrawn that same year, the cargo boats Minard of 1926 and Ardyne of 1928. This proved most illuminating — not least a photograph of Ardyne at Tarbert old pier, taken from the hilltop directly above.
Elsie Hinshalwood, who coordinated the evening, is to be congratulated for balancing out these contributions so effectively. Club president Deryk Docherty deserves an award for diverting everyone’s attention with a series of newsy items while a technical problem was sorted. Eric Schofield saved the day by disappearing to the car park and coming back with his own projector — enabling the digital presentations to go ahead. All in all, it was a memorable night.
At the Club’s next meeting, on Wednesday 12 March at Jurys Inn, Glasgow, Eric Schofield will give a presentation titled “Kyles Kaleidoscope”.