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Built in 1941 by Carrier Engineering of Wembley for the Air Ministry, Air-Sea Rescue Craft 10 is a rare surviving example of a type of craft used in British Waters in WWII.
Also known as “Cuckoos” or “Ocean Hostels”, ASRs had no engines and were moored at strategic intervals along bomber routes to occupied Europe.
Their role was to provide emergency shelter to crews of downed aircraft, and contained vital equipment and supplies such as preserved meat and vegetables, tea, coffee, rum, drinking water, toiletries, blankets, books and playing cards and bunks for 6 men, as well as radio equipment allowing them to call for assistance.
ASR vessels were constructed of welded steel, with their hulls brightly painted in red and yellow to make them easy to spot, and were designed to be easily boarded.
In 1979 Kenneth Kerr’s first attempt to row 2100 miles across the Atlantic ended after 58 days when his vessel, the 13ft dinghy Bass Conqueror, was capsized. Finding his transmitter and inflatable lift-raft nearby, his distress signal was picked up by a British Airways Concorde en-route to New York. The coastguards were alerted and a spotter aircraft passed on his position to a German carrier ship which detoured to his rescue. Five months later Bass Conqueror was found washed up on the Irish coast.
An Orkney Spinner flat-bottomed rowing boat, Bass Conqueror was specially fitted out for his first attempt in 1979 by a boat builder in Kenneth’s home town of Port Seaton, East Lothian, and named after a product brewed by sponsor Tennent’s.
May 21st 1980, Kenneth Kerr began his second attempt to row across the Atlantic. On August 13th he was spotted 500 miles off the coast of Ireland by a cargo ship, who gave him food and water. His last radio transmission was received on October 25th, but Kenneth was never seen or heard from again.
Bass Conqueror was recovered by a Norwegian rescue team near Stavanger on January 26th 1981.
This small sailing dinghy was built in a Glasgow townhouse bedroom in 1896 by brothers William and Walter Bergius. Walter went on to found the firm that developed the Kelvin marine engine.
The brothers were able to suspend a tent over the boom and so sleep out in the boat, making it perfect for weekend cruises around Scotland.
Dodo was presented to the Scottish Maritime Museum by the Bergius family.
A clinker-built ship’s lifeboat, Dolphin was designed to carry 20 people. It is unknown when she was built, but this type of wooden lifeboat was popular due to its strength and size.
Following the sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912, shipping had to take more responsibility for the safety of their passengers (the Titanic held 3,300 passengers but only 20 lifeboats). After the World Wars, lifeboats became lighter and more compact as designers experimented with rubber and inflatables.
Dolphin came to the Scottish Maritime Museum from the Montrose branch of the Sea Cadets.
Dr. Tiller’s Dinghy
This modest little boat was designed and built by G&A Waddell of Dunoon in 1952. A clinker-built (overlapping plank) sailing dinghy she is ideal for cruising, which allows owners to make the most of their leisure time on the water. When not in use they could be easily stored in a garage or a shed. Although 60ft luxury yachts are the preserve of the wealthy, there are many sailors who feel more at home in a dinghy like this.
Motor tuck Garnock was built in 1956 for the Irvine Harbour Company by George Brown & Co. at Garvel Shipyard. She assisted vessels in and out of the private Garnock Wharf which served the ICI Nobel explosives factory at Ardeer. Garnock was the last operational tug to work at Irvine and cost £40,000 to build. Her hull, fittings and 8-cylinder Lister Blackstone engine are original.
Garnock’s other duties including dumping faulty explosives at sea, and in February 1984 while doing so an explosion ripped a hole in her stern. Shortly afterward she was presented to the Scottish Maritime Museum.
Included on the National Register of Historic Vessels of the United Kingdom, Garnock is a fine example of a vessel designed specifically for service at Irvine, and is thought to be the only tug preserved in Scotland.
Golden Orfe Tender
This Fife of Fairlie built tender was made for a Mr Wilson of Greenock in 1932. It would have been used to ferry passengers to and from the moored Golden Orfe.
The Industrial Revolution gave rise to the middle classes who had time and money to sail on the Clyde - many turned their attention to commissioning yachts to raise with and cruise in.
Like her parent ship this tender is expertly built by a yard renowned for building first-class yachts. She is an excellent example of this type.
Jane Anne is a rare surviving double-ended self-righting pulling and sailing lifeboat which in her time at Irvine’s RNLI station saved 12 lives across seven rescues.
Built in 1898 in Milwall, London, Jane Anne began operating out of Irvine soon after and was in use until the station closed in 1914.
Jane Anne’s design meant she was open to the elements, relying on the strength and skill of the crew who manned her. Her diagonal cross planking made her very strong and the closed ends improved buoyancy.
Jane Anne was taken to Falmouth in Southern England and stayed in service with the RNLI until 1920 where she was withdrawn following the introduction of motor boats.
Discovered in a wood near Taunton, Somerset in the 1980s, Jane Anne was transferred to the Scottish Maritime Museum in her present state in 1989.
Katie is a fine example of a Zulu skiff – a type of small inshore line-fishing boat, Katie was built in 1938/9 by J&G Forbes in Aberdeenshire.
Zulu vessels like Katie dominated the Scotland’s east-coast fishing fleet, bringing in large quantities of fish from the North Sea. The vessels were fast and reliable, bringing fresh catches of herring safely into port.
The Zulu uprising of 1879 was the same year the first Zulu vessel was designed by William Campbell of Lossiemouth – a combination of the best features of Fifie and Scaffie fishing boats, two popular types in later half of the 1800s.
Katie was used on the west coast until 1940 when she was requisitioned as a supply boat during World War II. She was later converted into a yacht by the Fairlie Slip Co. before being acquired by the Scottish Maritime Museum in the 1980s.
In 1819 Scottish boatbuilder Lachlan McLean was commissioned by the Marquess of Bute to build a sailing galley. Using local oak and larch, McLean built this beautiful three-masted open sailing boat.
The Marquess named her Lady Guilford, probably in honour of his new wife, Lady Maria North, daughter of the Earl of Guilford.
The boat was later re-rigged as a schooner and became a working boat. Later, an engine was added and she was in service until the 1930s
Lady Guilford is a very early, complete and unaltered survivor of a Scottish vessel of any type, possibly the oldest surviving Scottish built boat.
She is loan to the Scottish Maritime Museum from the present Marquess of Bute, Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute.
Loch Broom Post Boat
This post boat is a small, clinker built sailing vessel used for delivery of mail to the remote community on Loch Broom, Wester Ross. Its date of construction is unknown. She was acquired by the West of Scotland Boat Museum Association in 1983 by donation from Mr W Bailiff, before being transferred to the Scottish Maritime Heritage Association in 1985. She has been loan to the Scottish Maritime Museum since 1987.
Maid of the Loch Lifeboat
This vessel belonged to the last British-built paddle steamer – The Maid of the Loch. This riveted aluminium ship’s lifeboat came to the Scottish Maritime Museum from the Loch Lomond Steam Ship Co, owners of the Maid, and is constructed from light aluminium instead of steel, making it lighter and more stable. If you look at the bow you can see the number of passengers it can hold.
In 1953 the British Transport Commission had A&J Inglis for Glasgow build them a new vessel for the Loch Lomond passenger service. Maid of the Loch was built, becoming the largest inland waterway vessel in Britain. She became the 20th passenger vessel to sail the historic route since 1818.
In 2004 the Maid officially became a historic ship on the UK Designated Vessels List, and is now open to the public at Balloch pier.
Mary Chalmers is a rare surviving example of an open-water recreational rowing skiff, known as a jolly boat.
She was built in 1953 by McAllister of Dumbarton, who also build collapsible lifeboats for Titanic, and originally belonged to the Ladyburn Trades Amateur Rowing Club in Greenock. Travelling by boat had been a necessary form of transport for those living in waterside communities, but as other forms of transport developed, people started to take to the water for fun and rowing clubs were established. Jolly boats were fast, shallow draft racing gigs, and Mary Chalmers was one of the last of her class to be built. She was named after the daughter of Jock Chalmers, who had been a foreman plater in Caird’s yard in Greenock.
Leisure and industry were closely linked on the Clyde, with teams of sportsmen from various trades competing to see who was best.
MV Kyles is the oldest Clydebuilt vessel still afloat in the UK. She has more than two dozen owners and retained her original name throughout the whole of her working life. Launched in 1872 by John Fullerton and Co. of Paisley, she was built for Glasgow owners at the Merksworth yard and was destined for the coasting trade.
Kyles was a basic steam-engined cargo coaster, typical of those built by the smaller yards of the Clyde. She has an iron and steel hull, much of which is in original condition, and a steel deck. Most of the upper works date from major restorations in 1945 and 1998.
Coastal traders provided an essential service before land transport became dominant and there was no standard design of cargo coaster, with ships often being modified to suit a specific role. Kyles is an excellent example of this despite having no spectacular history, the changes she has undergone as her many owners have adapted her to the changing demands of the casting trade make her a fascinating vessel.
The original owner of Kyles was Stuart Manford of Glasgow, and she was originally used as a tender for the fishing fleet, collecting the catch from the Clyde fishing boats and transporting the fish to railheads on the coast. A succession of owners followed, the Kyles carrying heavy and general cargoes on short coastal voyages in Scotland, Newcastle upon Tyne and the South Wales area. Her port of registry remained Glasgow until 1900 when she was registered at Hull, and the first major changes in her structure came in 1921 when she was converted to work as a sand dredger in the Bristol Channel.
A familiar sight to many in this area, a letter from a Mr L G Gardiner in Ships Monthly magazine recounted his fond memories of watching Kyles as a child in the 1920s as she pumped her sand cargo in the channel. He recalled that this was before her bow and stern were built up, adding that “When she was pumping she was low in the water and looked more like a submarine. In fact she became a bit of a joke with the sailors on the other dredgers because they said as long as you could see steam rising from the sand pump engine or an odd beer bottle thrown over the side, the little Kyles was still afloat”.
By the start of WWII, Kyles was out of service and de-registered. She was surveyed in 1942 while laid up on the Glamorganshire canal and found to be in a poor condition, and in 1944 she was sold on by a salvage contractor to Ivor P Langford, a ship owner and repairer based near Gloucester, who had her repaired and removed her dredging equipment in order to return her to a cargo role. She was re-registered at Gloucester and worked in the Bristol Channel for a number of years before being converted from steam to a diesel engine in 1953. In 1960 she was structurally altered again, this time to enable her to function as a sludge tanker for dumping industrial waste in the Bristol Channel. She was later downgraded to a storage hulk for waste and continued in this role until 1974.
Despite the owner’s tradition of naming his boats after female members of the family the name Kyles was kept out of respect for her long and varied history and as the vessel was a favourite of Mr Langford his family was keen to see her preserved once her working days were over. An offer was accepted from Captain Peter M Herbert of Bude, who had himself a long career in the coasting trade, and Kyles became a much loved vessel in the Bude area.
When the West of Scotland Boast Museum Association – precursor to the Scottish Maritime Museum - was formed in the early 1980s, Mr Herbert offered to sell Kyles to the group, and in 1984 the Scottish Maritime Museum became her 24th registered owner. Kyles was re-registered in Glasgow, 112 years after he name first appeared in the records.
Funding for a full restoration of the vessel became available in 1996, and it was decided that the most suitable appearance to restore her to was to take her back to the 1953 refit when she was changed from steam to diesel power. Work began in 1997 to strip out the sludge tanks, reinstate the original hatch and hatch cover, and replicate the mast and derrick. Her wheel house had been removed in the 1970s and this was replicated with help from old photographs of the vessel.
Recognised as one of Britain’s most important historic vessels, Kyles in included in the Designated vessels list of the National Historic Ships Committee.
In fairy folklore, Queen Mab was the tiny fairy who visited people when they were asleep, fulfilling their wishes via their dreams. Perhaps the owners of this little yacht were fulfilling a dream of their own when they commissioned a half scale, 6-metre yacht!
Her unusual size has made her an object of interest, with historians suggesting that she was a prototype of the 6-metre yachts which became famous as racing vessels in the 20th century.
The presence of a wheatsheaf carving on her bow also led some to believe that she might have been built by renowned yacht builders William Fife & Son, but modern sources disagree. The real identity of her builder is a mystery, but her unusual toy-like size continues to fascinate and intrigue.
The exact date and place of construction are unknown, as are her builder and original owner. However, we do know that the iron-hulled steamship Rifle was bought on the Clyde in the 1860s by the then Cameron of Locheil.
Rifle was in general service on Loch Arkaig, ferrying goods, passengers and mail between isolated dwellings around the loch and linking them with Clunes and Achnacarry. Queen Victoria travelled on-board in 1873, an outing which is recorded in her diary accounts. Rifle continued in this service until 1938 or 1939 when she was to be broken up. Her engine was removed but sank before she could be broken up. During WWII her wreck blocked the pier and so she was blasted or pulled into deeper water, which is why she is missing her bow.
In the mid-1980s the surviving section of hull was located and was acquired by the Scottish Maritime Museum in 1990
Built in 1962 by J&J White of Cowes, Isle of White, RNLI TGB is a 47ft twin screw motor lifeboat built to carry up to 95 people. Despite being strong vessels, Watson-class boats like TGB were not designed to self-right when capsized, and this ultimately led to her involvement in one of the worst tragedies in the history of the lifeboat service.
Serving the treacherous waters of the Pentland Firth, TGB was stationed at Longhope in the Orkneys and was launched 34 times, rescuing 24 people. However on 17th March 1969, TGB was called to assist a Liberian freighter which had found herself in trouble on the east side of Orkney. Before TGBreached her, the crew of the freighter had already run aground and the crew disembarked for dry land, and contact with TGB was lost in the storm.
At first daylight the next day aircraft began the search for RNLI TGB which was located that afternoon. Overturned by 100ft high waves she had been unable to right herself and all eight crewmembers had been lost, three from one family.
RNLI TGB was salvaged and refurbished and continued to save lives in Ireland, before retiring from service in 1979, and was loaned to the Scottish Maritime Museum in the late 1980s.
Seamew is a unique surviving Scottish example of a yard tender – a boat used to carry passengers and materials out to vessels in shipyards.
Built around 1904-1908, the level of craftsmanship suggest that she was designed and built by yacht firm William Fife & Sons of Fairlie for use in their own yard, and their successors the Fairlie Yacht Slip Company.
Fife’s yard was renowned for building racing yachts, such as Shamrock (1899) and Shamrock II (1903), both of which competed for the Americas Cup.
Clinker-built with overlapping mahogany planking on elm frames, and held together with brass clenched nails, this 25ft vessel still has some original Fife fittings. Originally a rowing boat, she is now fitted with a Thornycroft ‘Handy Billy’ engine dating from around 1939.
Built in 1942 by J. Hay & Sons, Kirkintilloch, Spartan the only surviving Scottish-built ‘puffer’, a type of steam-powered cargo vessel first built in the 1850s for use on the Clyde and Forth Canal, Now on the Designated List of the National Historic Ships Committee, she was the first vessel in the museum’s collection when it was established in 1983.
The term ‘puffer’ came from the characteristic puffs of steam – and accompanying sound – from the early single-stroke steam engines. The name stuck despite only the earliest examples of this type used this engine.
Sea-going puffers were being built by the 1870s, supplying an essential link to the maritime communities of Scotland. Carrying all manner of cargoes, they traded mainly in the Firth of Clyde and the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Their flat-bottomed hulls mean puffers were able to beach and unload their cargoes at low tide, not relying on piers.
Spartan has been much altered since her construction. She was built as a waterways puffer with riveted steel plating and pitch-pine deck. At a length of 66ft she was the longest a canal dock would allow.
At the outbreak of WWII the Ministry of War Transport required a fleet of small cargo boats, for servicing Naval ships and installations on Scotland’s west coast. Rather than designing a new vessel type, it was decided that the 66ft Clyde puffer type made an ideal model for the basis of a fleet.
A large number of these ‘Victualling Inshore Craft’ – known as the VIC series – were built, most of them constructed south of the border. Spartan, or VIC 18 as she was known, was an exception.
VIC 18 remained in Naval service until 1946 when she was laid up. She was reacquired by Hay’s in 1946 and converted to join there fleet of puffers, before being re-registered as ‘Spartan’.
Spartan’s steam engine was replaced by a Scania diesel in 1961, and remained in use as a cargo vessel until 1980. She was handed over the West of Scotland Boat Museum Association (the precursor of the Scottish Maritime Museum) in 1982.
With growing competition from subsidised road haulage and ferry services, and the islands using less coal, operators began to go out of business and by the mind 1990s the puffer trade was no more.