What a Party!

We are amused: CRSC members and friends were well entertained by the after-dinner speeches at our 90th anniversary celebration

Wow! The evening of 14 October 2022 certainly beat our expectations. Plenty of people came. Conversation flowed. The speeches were a hoot. There was more than enough to eat and drink — and a lot of laughter. 

Yes, CRSC’s 90th anniversary dinner at Loks Bar & Kitchen in Shawlands was a wonderful gathering of kindred spirits — sharing a beautifully served meal and a welcome drink, enjoying each others relaxed company, and revelling in the wit of three highly entertaining speakers. The keynote was conviviality.

As a birthday celebration, a 90-year old steamer club cant ask for more. 

CRSC has a long history of birthday parties. Some of us are long enough in the tooth to remember them: the hardest to forget is the one where the guest speaker just went on and on, and on — till we were told to leave the room!

Menu card produced by Loks Bar & Restaurant. Click on image to enlarge

But our 90th — the one we have just had — will without doubt go down as the jolliest of all. Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t the ‘singing and dancing’ kind of party. It was just a good old ‘social’, where you grab a drink, chat to people you know and don’t know, and sit back while dinner courses are rolled out and the speakers entertain. And then go home.

Our president, Robin Copland, is a born master of ceremonies — a man to whom the microphone is a friend, who radiates bonhomie, who takes care to recite the names of all who helped to organise the evening (including the excellent Loks staff) without it sounding overlong, and who keeps the proceedings flowing. Robin made particular mention of the professional seafarers (active and retired) who were at the party — Captain Dominic McCall, Captain Alex Morrison, Captain Murray Paterson, Chief Engineer Alex Forrest, Purser Walter Bowie, Chief Steward Aoife Charles.

Our coup de grâce was winning the support of Paul Semple as guest speaker. As if the general manager of Waverley Excursions Ltd — hot-foot from London after an exhausting south coast season — did not have enough on his plate… But Paul doesn’t seem to know the word ‘tired’. And (in a previous life) he wasn’t a successful teacher for nothing. Out came the visual aids — a Lego toy and a Weetabix box, no less — and a question: what did they have in common with our club? No, I didn’t know either, but it transpires they were all ‘born’ in 1932 — as was the turbine steamer Duchess of Hamilton, the Ayr excursion steamer that summer.

The £35 ticket price included a three-course meal and a complimentary drink from the bar. The brisket won special praise, with perfectly cooked veg and roasted potatoes

John Wood, our founder, came from Ayr; Paul grew up in Ayr — and first saw Waverley at Ayr, noticing on his schoolboy paper round that her two masts were angled differently to the vertical lights along the prom. Before we knew it, he was moving round our dining tables, microphone in hand, to circulate copies of the 1996 Waverley timetable and relate his introduction to CRSC that summer. We are, he said, ‘a very sociable club’.

That was nice to know (Paul himself is a member), but the praise did not stop there. He acknowledged the support we had given to the paddler’s boiler appeal, and the way we had remained true to our founding aims, while adapting to the challenges of the digital age and the pandemic. He also paid tribute to the paddler’s crew, who had ‘done Waverley proud. Operating a Clyde steamer is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘quiet’ day is a good day.’

He closed with a Toast — to the Clyde River Steamer Club’s 90th year, and ‘many more to come’. Whereupon everyone was upstanding.

Replying on behalf of the Club, and thanking Paul for his tribute, Stuart Craig recited the following limerick: There was a young teacher called Paul/Who taught chemistry best of all/He then joined the crew of a paddler he knew/And soon he was boss of them all. Well, Stuart may win no prizes for poetry, but he definitely deserves an award for a very funny speech in which he managed to find steamer/ferry-related puns for all the chemical elements, before making some equally hilarious allusions to CalMac food, Isle of Arran and Yard No. 801. Could it be that, somewhere along his career path, Stuart missed his calling as a stand-up comic?

Earlier, before the serving of the meal, the ‘formal’ part of the evening had begun with a notably dignified and moving Grace from Douglas Allan.

CRSC’s next event is on Wednesday 9 November, when we welcome Captain John Gillies, Raasay-born master of Hebridean Isles, as guest speaker at Jurys Inn.

Paul Semple unpacks his bag of goodies — a Lego toy and a box of Weetabix (on the small table next to the wall)

Is he singing through that microphone? No, Stuart Craig gets going with his ‘Reply to the Toast’, and soon has everyone in stitches

There were plenty of laughs at the 90th anniversary dinner. The only CRSC member present not individually shown in these photographs (apologies) is Dougie McInnes, seated in the middle distance and partially obscured behind Jane Liston

Captain Dominic McCall (left) with Lois and Robin Copland

Violet and Alex Morrison (left) with Robert Cleary (centre) and Jim and Isabel Stirling

Left to right: Graeme Phanco, Susan and Alex Forrest, Stuart and Clare Craig

John Beveridge (left) and Roy Paterson (right) with Eric and Carol Schofield (centre)

Each table was named after a Club luminary of the past. Ian McCrorie is well remembered

The reverse side of the table card gave a summary of each luminary’s contribution to CRSC

Left to right: Brian Innes, Paul Semple, Iain Quinn, Gill and Andy Anderson

Gordon Law, Angus Ross, Iain and Helen Dewar

Table card commemorating Graham Langmuir

Walter Bowie wearing his CalMac pullover

Douglas and Morag Allan (left) with Alan Chalmers

On arrival in our function room at Loks, Ian Jack (left) and Derek Peters inspect the table layout sheets, flanked by tributes to past honorary presidents Andrew McQueen and Captain Alex Rodger

Richard Orr (left) and Colin Smith admire the archive material that Billy Tomlinson had displayed, including artefacts from Clyde and Hebridean steamers. Click on image to enlarge

Left to right: David Mackie, Lawrence Macduff, Carrie and Iain MacKinnon, James Weir

Aiofe Charles (left) and Deryk Docherty with Kathryn and Murray Paterson (right)

Neil Guthrie, Alistair McLeod and Graeme Hogg

Alison Brown, Angela Johnson and Jane Liston

Among the archive exhibits was the 1914-18 war record plaque of the 1912 Queen Alexandra

Unable to attend due to indisposition, Olive McCrorie (Ian’s widow) sent a special message of congratulations

Left to right: Ian Ferguson, Alex Crighton, Peter Nicolson, James Hamilton

The display of archive material included this brass plaque from Glen Rosa of 1893

Paul Semple’s Toast was a wonderful blend of past, present, congratulation and improvisation. He described CRSC as ‘a very sociable club’, and wished it ‘many more birthdays to come’

See also: November 2012 — 80th Anniversary Dinner

There has never been a better time to join CRSC.

Your introductory pack will include two publications — a comprehensive Review of CalMac ferry services in 2020 and a magazine with fascinating insights into classic steamers of the past such as Duchess of Hamilton, Queen Mary and Jeanie Deans — plus free access to photo-rich ‘Members Only’ posts on this website.

You will also be able to share your enthusiasm for ships with like-minded people.

Join CRSC here for £10. You won’t regret it!

Photography and write-up by Andrew Clark. Published on 16 October 2022