On the Spot: Eric Schofield

On board King George V heading for Staffa and Iona: the sailing Eric would most like to see revived is the Oban-based Sacred Isle’ excursion, of which he cherishes happy memories from his youth. In this scene Iona can be espied on the far left, with the Treshnish Isles centre right

Eric Schofield has a long association with the Clyde River Steamer Club: he has been a member since 1963. In addition to serving as President in the 1970-71 session, he was Club Curator, Cruise Convenor and, from 1993 until last year, Honorary Secretary. Eric remains a valuable voice on our management committee. Those who have enjoyed his presentations over the years know that he is one of the best west coast ship photographers around. Here, in our regular series, he takes his turn to answer Stuart Craig’s ‘On the Spot’ questions.

Bachelor boy: Eric (left) and lifelong steamer friend David Scott at Brodick on 15 April 1968, with Duchess of Hamilton at the old wooden steamer pier. Nowadays, when grandparent duties allow, Eric and his wife Carol still enjoy escaping to Arran

What is your earliest memory of sailing on a ferry?

If ‘ferry’ can also mean ‘steamer’, it has to be a 1950 summer holiday to Kames, sailing by paddler (Jeanie Deans or Waverley ?) from Craigendoran to Dunoon, and changing there to a turbine steamer (QM II) for Tighnabruaich.  The return voyage was by MacBrayne’s Saint Columba to Rothesay, where we transhipped to the Craigendoran-bound paddle steamer. My only vivid memory — I was a six-year old whose interest in boats had yet to be kindled — was seeing in the distance the three red funnels of the ship we had been on, lying at her base at Greenock as we paddled our way back to Craigendoran.

What was the last sailing you took?

At time of writing it was a January 8 outing — Oban/Craignure/Oban, with bus to Fishnish and walk back to Craignure between the respective sailings.

Holidays: which island  would you choose?

Eric (far right) with Club curator David Morton at Craigendoran on the morning of 4 May 1968, when CRSC chartered the paddle steamer Caledonia to Ardrishaig and Inveraray. Click on image to enlarge

Arran, but all the islands are different and each has its worthwhile attractions.

Do you have a favourite steamer or ferry?

MacBrayne’s 1934 Lochnevis a neat, perky looking ship whose officers and deckhands always came over as a very friendly and happy crew.

Which was Waverley’s best livery?

No particular favourite: she looks good in CSP, CalMac or WSN guise.

If young enough, what was your favourite ‘streaker’, or if older,  your favourite ‘Maid’?

Perhaps Maid of Ashton, simply because I got to do quite a few Holy Loch excursions over the years [Maid of Ashton was the Holy Loch ‘steamer’ for most of working her life on the Clyde].

A brand new paddle steamer is being built for Clyde service. What name would you give it?

Pioneer, if the name was available.

Looking back, what is the perfect example of the Clyde steamer, or car ferry?

The turbine steamers of the 1930s.

Eric (centre foreground) with a CRSC party on the ABC ferry Bute on 20 March 1971. Iain MacArthur (in light brown overcoat), who founded the Club magazine Clyde Steamers’, stands next to him in front of Ian McCrorie, with Peter Milne and David Scott on the other side. Click on image to enlarge

What would you like to see happen on the Clyde or Hebridean  ferry scene over the next few years?

Joined up thinking and application of proposals/plans.

The best point-to-point route you’ve sailed on?

 Gourock to Campbeltown, especially the 1960s-style Sunday excursions.

Which new west coast route would you like to see open up?

A proper ‘Sacred Isle’ excursion, Round Mull from Oban to Iona with call at Tobermory en route.

What inspired you to join CRSC?

My love of boats, both large and small, combined with the natural beauty of the Firth.

You have served the CRSC in various roles over the years. Do you have a particular highlight?

Eric (centre) talking to Robin Boyd (partially obscured) and Ian McCrorie on a CRSC charter of Waverley round Ailsa Craig on 4 September 1971. Click on image to enlarge

No particular highlight – I took pleasure in working on behalf of our diverse and friendly members, whatever the task.

How would you like the Club to evolve over the next few years?

Whilst facing many changes brought about by pressures from finance, technology and ever-increasing restrictions on freedom to follow our passion, I sincerely hope that the Club can continue to engender the social interaction and lifelong friendships that have been the hallmark of its 90-plus years.

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Over the years Eric Schofield has been one of the most prolific contributors to CRSC winter meetings and, more recently, to its website. Lower down this page you will find some of his extraordinary output, including his celebrated ‘All tickets please’ series and an account of his 21st century record of sailing on 14 Clyde ships in a day.

Halcyon days: on board King George V in the Sound of Mull on 31 August 1970

Eric Schofield (far right) on the bridge of Waverley during a CRSC excursion on 24 June 2007. Standing next to Captain Steve Michel are club treasurer William Tomlinson (left), president Gibby Anderson and cruise convenor John Newth (right)

Eric (right) on Ali Cat at Gourock on 29 July 2011, midway through his epic 14-vessel day of Clyde sailing. Crew member Ryan Hamil stands on the left, with CRSC past president Iain MacLeod in the centre

Eric (left foreground) at CRSC’s 80th anniversary dinner on 16 November 2012, with (l-r) Angus Ross, Graeme Hogg, Robert Cleary and Stuart Craig

Cruise convenors: Eric (left) on a CRSC excursion on 17 May 2017, with his predecessor Ian McCrorie and our current cruising supremo Neil Guthrie

‘I hope the Club can continue to engender the lifelong friendships that have been the hallmark of its 90-plus years’: presentation by CRSC president Robin Copland at the 2023 AGM, as a token of gratitude for Eric’s 30-year stint as honorary secretary (framed double-portrait of the 1934 Lochnevis)


A Picture Perfect Evening with Eric Schofield

Video of Eric Schofield’s King George V presentation

Video of Eric Schofield’s ‘Hebridean Jaunts’ presentation

All tickets please — the full 28-part series of Eric Schofields articles inspired by the tickets he has collected

Eric Schofield: 14 Ships in a Day — A 21st Century Record? (photos)

Eric Schofield: 14 Ships in a Day (text)


Rob Beale, Mark Nicolson, Lawrence Macduff, Carrie MacKinnon, Allan Smith, Paul Semple, Stuart McMahon, Barbara Craig, Graeme Roy, Charles McCrossan, Jane Liston, Andrew Anderson, Fraser MacHaffie, Gavin Stewart, Graeme Phanco, Walter Bowie, Robin Urie, Kay Hutchison, Graham Lappin, Jim Stirling, Duncan Wilson, Susan Forrest, Derek Peters, Anne Mitchell, Ken Mills, John Beveridge, Terry Sylvester, David Scott, Graeme Dunlop, Iain Dewar, Derek Crawford.

Published on 11 February 2024