In the latest in our ‘On the Spot’ series, longstanding CRSC member Graeme Phanco takes the hot seat. The questions are the same — but what about the answers? Well, here they are…
What is your earliest memory of sailing on a Clyde steamer?
I remember being dragged screaming past a black steam locomotive belching smoke and steam at Wemyss Bay Station when I was three or four, then onto the Talisman for a trip to our holiday home in Millport.
What was the last sailing you took?
Loch Shira, Cumbrae Slip to Largs last week. Last trip on a major unit was on Hebrides from Lochmaddy to Uig on the return trip from our summer holiday on Eriskay in 2018.
Holidays: Dunoon, Rothesay or Arran?
Always Millport, from the age of three to 16. I’m still a regular visitor. We always went on excursions — Duchess of Hamilton to Lochranza or Campbeltown was a favourite trip. I remember standing below the bridge watching out for porpoises and being amazed at the silence and lack of vibration. The turbine steamers really were in a different class.
What is your favourite steamer?
Duchess of Hamilton. More recently I had a soft spot for Pioneer. She always looked very purposeful and proved to be extremely versatile serving on many routes.
Which was Waverley’s best livery — LNER, CSP or CalMac?
LNER. I didn’t like the CSP white paddleboxes or CalMac funnels.
What was your favourite ‘Maid’ (if old enough) or ‘streaker’ (if young enough)?
My favourite was the ‘Skelmorlie’. As for the ‘streakers’, I liked Saturn best. Her forward looking area below the bridge was a great improvement over her sisters. I didn’t like the tripod masts on Jupiter and Juno.
Jeanie Deans or Waverley?
It really has to be Waverley, as she is the great survivor. I only sailed on Jeanie Deans once on a very short trip between Millport Old Pier and Fairlie, so I don’t have many memories of her.
A new turbine has been built on the Clyde: what would you name her?
Duchess of Hamilton.
What would you like to see happen on the Clyde ferry scene over the next few years?
The introduction of a passenger-only summer service between the Clyde resorts — perhaps with a vessel the size of Keppel. I am sure if it was properly marketed it could be successful.
The best point-to-point route you’ve sailed on?
That is a hard one. Probably from Tiree to Oban down the Sound of Mull: great scenery and usually plenty shipping activity.
Apart from Millport, which pier would you like to see re-open?
It would be nice to see Dunoon’s Victorian Pier restored. I don’t understand the logic in carrying out a major refurbishment of the buildings while leaving the structure of the pier to rot. Helensburgh also requires major work but the outlook is not very promising. Let’s hope funds become available.
What inspired you to join CRSC?
I was always interested in the steamers. A work colleague, John Robertson, told me about the Club, and so I joined.
If CRSC had loads of money in the bank, what would you spend it on?
Digitising and cataloguing as much of the archive as possible.
What makes you continue your membership of the Club, year on year?
The subscription is good value. You get excellent talks and publications, especially the magazine.
What could the Club do better?
The Club has a wonderful archive of photographs and other material, which members get only occasional glimpses of. It would be good if members could access the digitised holdings online.
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