Obituary: Robin Urie

Robin Urie was a well liked member of our Club. He had a lifelong love of west coast shipping routes

The sudden death of Robin Urie on Sunday 30 April at the age of 71 has left those who knew him in a state of shock. It has also robbed the Clyde River Steamer Club of one of its most loyal and longstanding members.

Robin steering MacBrayne’s Lochfyne in 1968

Robin, who died of a heart attack, was at our AGM barely three weeks ago, looking fit and well. He was a keen cyclist.

He had been a CRSC member from the age of 12, and served as president in 1986-87 and cruise convener from 1992 to 1997. By nature reticent and thoughtful, he was the first interviewee, in June 2017, for this website’s long-running ‘On the Spot’ series — an ironic choice, because Robin was one of the last people you could imagine wanting to face a spotlight.

He nevertheless used that platform to express a wish that the Club should do more to attract younger people, and it was a sense of nostalgia for his own youthful sailing exploits up and down the west coast that came across most strongly in ‘On the Spot’ — as it did in his presidential address back in October 1986, when he spoke of the astounding number of places where ship enthusiasts in Scotland could have a sail, not necessarily in a ‘big’ boat.

Robin was born in January 1952 and grew up in Motherwell. His earliest steamer memory was of going to Millport on PS Jupiter in 1957.

His favourite route, he recently disclosed, was Oban to Lochboisdale — a choice based on a boyhood experience of sailing to the Uist port on the 1955 Claymore with his father Tom, also a CRSC past president.

Robin at a CRSC meeting in February 2023

In Tom’s later years the two were often seen together at Club meetings. When Balmoral gave a short season of cruises on the Clyde in 2016 (little more than a year before Tom died), it was obvious to all who knew them that father and son derived huge shared pleasure from sailing together.

In a moving tribute to his father for this website, Robin recalled how childhood holidays were spent at Millport, ‘and as soon as my brother and I became old enough to appreciate the cruises [which had long been a feature of Tom’s life], we were included. The ‘bug’ bit me in the summer of 1964. My enthusiasm seemed to encourage him. The following winter, on a visit to William Porteous’ bookshop in Exchange Square, Glasgow, my mother bought me MacArthur, McCrorie and MacHaffie’s Steamers of the Clyde and Western Isles. The book had details of the Clyde River Steamer Club. Dad and I joined.’

In his professional life, Robin was an electrical engineer. He was still working at the time of his death, and apparently enjoying it.

We extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife Erica, his children Alison and Colin and grandchildren, and to his brother David — and indeed to all the family.

The funeral service will be at St John’s Church, Hamilton Street, Carluke ML8 4HA, on Monday 22 May at 11.15am. Robin’s family extends a warm welcome to Club members who wish to attend. No flowers please, but donations may be made to the global safe water charity

Robin Urie at a CRSC meeting in December 2016, with his father Tom (back to camera) on the left

On the Spot: Robin Urie

Remembering Tom Urie

Published on 11 May 2023