Classics from the Archive (1)


Duchess of Argyll at speed c1936: the 20-year old turbine is evidently still a flyer in this superbly captured shot off Toward as she heads for Rothesay. The ‘weather cloths’ on the promenade and bridge decks were a recent addition, providing some protection from wind and rain, but a poor substitute for the enclosed shelter decks of the new breed of turbines from King George V onwards. Built by Denny of Dumbarton in 1906, Duchess of Argyll was designed by the Caledonian Steam Packet Company to wrest back the traffic it had lost on the Ardrossan-Arran run to the Glasgow & South Western Railway’s flagship Glen Sannox. The ‘Argyll’ served on the English Channel in the First World War and as a Clyde ferry in the Second. She was sold to the Admiralty in 1952 and used as a base for underwater detection experiments at Portland until 1970. Duchess of Argyll will always have a place in the pantheon of great Clyde steamers. We do not know the name of the Club member who took or donated the glass slide from which this scan was taken, but we salute them in memoriam for their generosity and skill in capturing an epic moment for posterity

Welcome to a new series of photographic delights from the CRSC Digital Archive. This occasional series is designed on one hand to brighten spirits during the current health crisis, and on the other to give exposure to CRSC’s rich repository of images from the past 150 years.

The first two posts will be open to everyone to enjoy. Thereafter the series will be a ‘Members Only’ feature — available exclusively to those who have paid the annual subscription that keeps CRSC going and covers the cost of this website.

You can join CRSC here for £10 and enjoy all the benefits, including two imminent publications — the 2020 edition of Clyde Steamers, the Club’s annual colour magazine, and Review 2018, a detailed record of all west of Scotland ferry activity in that year. These highly prized publications, packed with fascinating information and pictures, are sent free of charge to paid-up members and are not available on the open market.

The next extract from the CRSC Digital Archive will feature colour photography from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Duchess of Rothesay was one of the most graceful paddlers built by the CSP at the height of competition between steamer-owning railway companies on the Clyde in the 1890s. Built by J. & G. Thomson at Clydebank in 1895, she was renowned for being able to ‘dust’ her rivals in a race for coast piers. Closely associated in her early years with the Arran via the Kyles excursion, she served as a minesweeper in the First World War and as a minesweeper/accommodation ship in the Second — in both cases on the south and east coasts of England. After 1945 she was considered not worth reconditioning. Duchess of Rothesay is pictured here in LMS colours (1925-39), leaving Rothesay with winter boarding

Davaar, built in 1885 for the Campbeltown & Glasgow Steam Packet Joint Stock Company, was one of the most handsome steamers ever to grace the waters of the Clyde. Although her trade between Kintyre and the Broomielaw kept her decks full of cargo and cattle, she had an elegance that belied her function. In 1942 she was sold to the Ministry of War Transport for use as a blockship at Newhaven. She is pictured off Gourock c1930

MacBrayne’s Islay mail boat Pioneer cants at West Loch Tarbert pier c1935. The first steamboat to give regular sailings from the West Loch was Maid of Islay No 2 in 1826. Later in the century the Islay mail run was undertaken by a variety of MacBrayne vessels, including Glencoe (1846), Lochiel (1877) and Fingal (1877). Built by Inglis at Pointhouse in 1905, Pioneer served Islay until the Second World War, after which she was sold to the Admiralty and used as a floating laboratory until 1958. Canting at West Loch Tarbert — involving the use of an extra rope at the stern to warp the vessel round at the narrow head of the loch — was a long tradition continued after the war by Pioneer’s successor, MV Lochiel

SEE ALSO:

One Thousand and One Gems from the CRSC Archive: Sou’West Steamers

One Thousand and One Gems from the CRSC Archive: MV Glen Sannox

One Thousand and One Gems from the CRSC Archive: MacBrayne’s Steamers

Treasures from the John Goss Collection (1)

Fab photo donations for benefit of CRSC members

Highlights of 2019 captured on CRSC media

Join CRSC here to stimulate your shipping interest during the current layoff.

Published on 22 March 2020