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CHARIOTS OF STEAM Scottish Maritime Museum (Denny Tank) Exhibition of Model Ships by Lachie Stewart Opening Friday 26th May

Opening Friday 26th May

A new exhibition celebrating the works of master model maker Lachie Stewart opens at the Scottish Maritime Museum (Denny Tank), Dumbarton, on Friday 26th May.

‘Chariots of Steam’ features seven meticulously built model ships including ships built by Clyde shipbuilders William Denny and Brothers, on whose site the Museum now stands, and Ferguson Brothers.

Born in Vale of Leven, West Dunbartonshire, in 1943, Lachie Stewart began model building at 16 years of age. A Dental Technician by trade, he combined his skills making and repairing artificial teeth and his passion for maritime history over the next sixty years to create a spectacular collection of 75 model ships.

His models, many of which are held in private and public collections, range from elegant paddle steamers to the lifeline Clyde puffers, and from simple half-hull design models to magnificent display models. Most are radio controlled for sailing.

Lachlan, who also enjoyed a successful athletic career winning a Gold in the 10,000 metres at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, moved from Glasgow to Port Glasgow during his working life. There, he was able to visit the Ferguson shipyard and gain unique access to research seven ships built there.

Eva Bukowska, Exhibitions and Events Assistant at the Scottish Maritime Museum, says:

We are delighted to celebrate Lachie Stewart’s exceptional collection of model ships with our latest exhibition ‘Chariots of Steam’.

“We’ve chosen a selection of models which will give visitors the broadest insight into Lachie’s works and the rich variety of vessels built by some of our most famous shipyards.

“Lachie’s skills and his appreciation of shipbuilding on the Clyde shine through each of the models and we’re sure this is going to be a hugely popular exhibition for our visitors.”

Entry to ‘Chariots of Steam: An Exhibition of Model Ships by Lachie Stewart’ is included in Museum Admission and up to three children go FREE with each Adult/Concession ticket.


Models include PS Caledonia which was built by William Denny and Brothers Shipyard in Dumbarton in 1934.

Although many steamers had come from the William Denny and Brothers shipyard, PS Caledonia was the first Denny paddle steamer to serve on the River Clyde since the 1890 Duchess of Hamilton. After being commissioned as a minesweeper, patrol vessel and anti-aircraft ’flack ship’ during WW2, it was extended to carry 1,700 passengers and returned to service on the Clyde.

The exhibition also features models of NLV Pole Star (Image left) and Flying Phantom which were both built by Ferguson Brothers in Port Glasgow.

The lighthouse and buoy tender NLV Pole Star was built for the Northern Lighthouse Board in 2000 and incorporated the latest propulsion, navigational and buoy handling technologies.

The Flying Phantom (1981) was built for the Clyde Shipping Company and based in Greenock. After the tug sank in 2008, with three crew members tragically lost, Lachie’s model was used to aid the salvage team.

The other vessels are PS Maid of the Loch, Volcano, the Kathleen M Stewart and Sealight Greenock (image right).

 PS Maid of the Loch was built by A&J Inglis at their Clyde Pointhouse Yard in 1953. It is now under the care of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company which hopes to return the vessel to cruising service.

Volcano (1900) serves as an example of the Paddle Tug, a style of vessel built in large numbers for hauling barges, especially on long continental rivers, or for harbour work manoeuvring larger sea-going vessels.

The Kathleen M Stewart is Lachie’s homage to the Steam Drifters built from the late nineteenth century. These vessels, which featured a deck close to the water to make pulling fishing nets onboard easier, were often named after the owner’s family or friends. Lachie’s model is named after his daughter.

Built by George Brown and Co, Greenock, in 1930, Sealight Greenock, was a typical puffer, built to fit the locks on the Forth & Clyde Canal. Puffers were named after the distinctive ‘puff, puff’ of steam from the funnel and were flat bottomed so they could be beached on sandy shores to unload cargo.

‘Chariots of Steam: An Exhibition of Model Ships by Lachie Stewart’ runs from Friday 26th May to Sunday 3rd September.

The Scottish Maritime Museum, on Castle Street, Dumbarton, stands on the site of the famous William Denny Shipyard and features the world’s oldest working model experiment tank.

The National Transport Trust recently recognised the 1882 Denny Ship Model Experiment Tank with a ‘Red Wheel’, commemorating it as one of the UK’s most significant transport heritage sites.

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 Issued on behalf of the Scottish Maritime Museum by
Joanna Harrison, Mobile: 07884 187404

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