In June 1957, when Richard Orr was a mere 18-year old fresh from school, he was handed the much-prized summer job of Assistant Purser on a Clyde steamer. Little did he know that the ship to which he was assigned, Marchioness of Graham, was in her last season on the Clyde. A coal-burning turbine steamer built at Govan in 1936, she was deemed superfluous to requirements at a time when her owners, the Caledonian Steam Packet Company, were desperately trying to minimise costs and modernise their fleet. The following year the ‘Graham’ was sold to Greece.
“The Marchioness of Graham: A Purser’s Log — A Diary from a Clyde Steamer in 1957” chronicles the daily life of a steamer from the vantage point of a wide-eyed young member of the crew, as the ship made her way from Whiting Bay, Campbeltown and Ayr to Gourock, the Kyles of Bute and many other points in-between.
Richard does more than poetic justice to a vessel that is now acknowledged to have been one of the unsung beauties of the Firth of Clyde. His portrait of life on board, with tales of long shifts, unexpected incidents and a motley crew, is both amusing and insightful, documenting as it does an era long vanished.
CRSC is selling this 226-page, handsomely illustrated paperback at the bargain price of £13.50 post free. It will enhance the bookshelf of anyone interested in the Clyde, shipping history and life at sea.