On the Spot – Lawrence Macduff

‘I can still remember the first time I saw Pioneer’s bow wave’: Lawrence Macduff at home. Copyright Stuart Craig

Lawrence Macduff is a well-kent face among the steamer’ and bus fraternity. If he is not hanging off the end of a pier snapping a favourite ferry he is driving his vintage MacBraynes bus along Hebridean by-ways. CRSC President during the 1990-91 session, Lawrence becomes the latest subject of our On the Spot’ series.  Stuart Craig tracked him down to his home in Kilmarnock to ask some vital questions about his interest in ships.

What is your earliest memory of sailing on a Clyde steamer?  

Jeanie Deans 1958, from Broomielaw, with the family. It was my first time on a steamer, as far as I can remember.

The young Lawrence Macduff

The young Lawrence Macduff, ever eager to visit a ship’s engine room

What was the last sailing you took?

Last night! Sound of Soay from Hunters Quay to McInroys Point.

Holidays: Dunoon, Rothesay or Arran?


What is your favourite steamer?

Pioneer. I can still remember the first time I saw that bow wave.

Which was Waverley’s best livery, LNER, CSP, CalMac or WSN?


What was your favourite ‘Maid’ (if old enough) or ‘streaker’ if young enough?

Maid of Ashton. She was the least hard-worked of the four and in my opinion the best presented.

Jeanie Deans or Waverley?

Oh Jeanie Deans. I got interested in Clyde steamers when I went to school in Dunoon and remember them all well, but somehow Waverley just didn’t figure.

A new turbine has been built on the Clyde, what would you name her?

Turbinia II, in celebration of the propulsion system.

Favourite steamer: Lawrences classic portrait of Pioneer off Mallaig on 22 June 1979 -- copyright photo Lawrence Macduff

Favourite steamer: Lawrence’s classic portrait of Pioneer off Mallaig on 22 June 1979. Copyright Lawrence Macduff

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

New vehicle ferry routes: from Rosneath to Gourock and from Port Bannatyne to Ardyne.

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

Kennacraig to Port Askaig, it’s lovely.

Which pier would you like to see re-open?

Innellan. It’s just so dead now south of Dunoon.

What direction would you like to see CRSC take in the next few years?

As the age profile of members advances we should try to enhance the appeal of the history and heritage of the ships to younger people.

If CRSC had loads of money in the bank – what would you spend it on?

More resources put in place for accessing Club photographs.

What makes you continue your membership of the Club, year on year?

Two things. I don’t go to as many meetings as I would like, but I believe the quality of speakers has definitely improved over the years. Secondly, the quality of the articles in the Club Magazine.

What could the Club do better?

As I said earlier, more access to photographs. However this is an observation, not a criticism, for I am fully aware that the Club is run by volunteers. 

Lawrence Macduff with his vintage MacBrayne bus -- copyright photo CRSC

Lawrence Macduff with his vintage MacBrayne bus. Copyright CRSC

The quality of speakers has improved, thanks not least to Lawrence himself, who addressed CRSC in January 2016 -- copyright CRSC

‘The quality of speakers has improved’, thanks not least to Lawrence himself, who addressed CRSC in January 2016. Copyright CRSC

CRSC Roy Hamilton Collection

‘More access to Club photographs’: Iona leaving Mallaig for Armadale. Copyright CRSC Roy Hamilton Collection

Lawrence Macduff (foreground) on King George V at Lochranza on 14 May 1970, during a CRSC charter of the veteran MacBrayne steamer. Copyright C. Kennedy Mills

CRSC’s spring 2017 photo offer comprises 12 vintage colour images from the Dr Joe McKendrick Collection. For details, click here.

On the Spot: Robin Urie