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New Photography Exhibition Opens




Window on the Clyde: Family Photos of the River’s Golden Age

Scottish Maritime Museum

Harbour Road, Irvine

Saturday 20 July – Sunday 3 November

A fascinating photography exhibition showcasing the golden era of the River Clyde opens at the Scottish Maritime Museum on Irvine Harbourside on Saturday 20 July.

‘Window on the Clyde: Family Photos of the River’s Golden Age’ brings together photographs taken by three generations of the Paterson family of Dunoon between the late 1800s up to the end of World War II.

Together, the family’s photographs tell the Clyde’s story through the unique perspective of one Scottish family. They showcase the pleasure, innovation and tragedy of the ships of the Clyde, from the paddle steamers going ‘doon the watter’ to the Glasgow shipyards.

Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, amateur photographer Robert Beatty Paterson was the last generation to capture the maritime scenes he saw through the window of his family’s Dunoon home.

The exhibition also tells the story of his near fatal experience aboard a torpedoed Merchant Navy boat during WW2.

Also on show are sketches Robert Beatty Paterson drew of paddlesteamers and yachts as a hobby, additional family photos on loan and a 1940 Merchant Navy uniform and historic objects from the heyday of the pleasure steamer from the Museum’s own collection.

Born in Glasgow in 1917, Robert Beatty Paterson moved to the family home, Beach House in Dunoon’s West Bay, as a small child and there began his life-long personal and professional maritime connection.

When a commission to join the Royal Navy in 1941 was rescinded due to discovery of his acute colour blindness, Robert Beatty Paterson became a radio officer in the Merchant Navy.

When his vessel, SS ‘Chumleigh’, was torpedoed on 5 November 1942 whilst serving on a Russian convoy, Robert Beatty Paterson found himself navigating his lifeboat towards the Arctic island of Spitsbergen.

After weeks in an open boat in near Arctic conditions, the exhausted and injured crew took refuge in a trapper’s hut. Over coming days, shipmates passed away and the health of the survivors weakened, until, they were finally discovered by the Norwegian Resistance. Robert, who weighed only 4.5 stones, went on to recover and provide a communications network for the Resistance Movement on the island.

After the war, he joined the Sandbank yachtbuilding firm of Morris & Lorimer Limited becoming managing director.

In 1989 Robert Beatty Paterson loaned 60,000 images to the Scottish Maritime Museum. Here they were curated into the Paterson Photography Collection.

‘Window on the Clyde: Family Photos of the River’s Golden Age’ is the first public exhibition of photographs from the Paterson Photography Collection shown by the Scottish Maritime Museum.

Images include Clyde puffers unloading at Dunoon coal pier and PS Gael berthing at Dunoon as people watch on from the rocks around 1900; PS Laguna Belle berthed on the south quay of the James Watt Dock in Greenock around 1930; and SB Archibald Russell being towed by the Steel & Bennie Limited tug Warrior on the Firth of Clyde around 1920.

Window on the Clyde: Family Photos of the River’s Golden Age runs until Sunday 3 November.

Entry to the exhibition is included in general Museum admission.

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