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A stunning scale model of the paddle steamer PS Duchess of Fife, which saved 1,633 troops from Dunkirk during World War 2, has been gifted to the Scottish Maritime Museum.

 Sharon Barnett and Neil Davis made the trip up from South Gloucestershire and Yorkshire to pass the handmade model of the Duchess of Fife built by their father Gordon Davis into the Museum’s care.

Gordon Davis built the model vessel painstakingly over five years, beginning in 1964 and finishing in January 1983. As well as carving the hull from a block of wood, he finished the model in the vessel’s 1932/34 livery for then owners the Caledonian Steam Packet Company.

Receiving the gifted PS Duchess of Fife Abigail McIntyre, Curator at the Scottish Maritime Museum, says:

We are thrilled to add the PS Duchess of Fife to our large and diverse ship model collection. It is a beautifully made model and the rich story of the vessel’s working life, from leisurely cruising on the Firth of Clyde to the high drama of wartime service, will be fascinating for visitors.”

Handing the model vessel to the Museum Sharon Barnett added:

It is an emotional handover for Neil and I. We have so many fond memories of our dad building his model of the Duchess of Fife and he always wanted it to go to the Scottish Maritime Museum when it was complete.

“We approached the Museum in 2010 with the intention of lending it to the Museum’s Clydebuilt site but this fell through when that Museum had to close its doors. Dad passed away last March but he will be proud of us for finally sorting it out for him. It is a great shame that he could not have brought it to the Museum himself, but he will be delighted that his model has finally found a permanent home at the Scottish Maritime Museum on Irvine Harbourside.”

The paddle steamer PS Duchess of Fife was built for the Caledonian Steam Packet Company by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering of Govan.

After launching on May 9 1903, the 336 tonne paddle steamer served passenger routes in the Firth of Clyde for fifty years, breaking only for wartime service during both World Wars.

PS Duchess of Fife began on the Gourock to Dunoon and Rothesay services before being requisitioned for use as a minesweeper during World War 1 and World War 2.

When the Admiralty rallied private vessels to rescue Allied soldiers from Dunkirk in the May 1940 ‘Operation Dynamo’, PS Duchess of Fife left minesweeping duties to make four perilous crossings under the command of Temporary Lieutenant J N Anderson of the Royal Naval Reserve.

After the final landing at Ramskirk with 300 French troops on 3 June, PS Duchess of Fife had rescued a total of 1,633 Allied troops.

PS Duchess of Fife was later awarded a Royal Navy battle honour for warships for achievements during Operation Dynamo.

Postwar, PS Duchess of Fife returned to passenger sailings, travelling the Wemyss Bay to Millport and Kilchattan Bay routes, before being sold for scrap in September 1953 after 50 years of service.

For more information on the Scottish Maritime Museum or to book, please visit: www.scottishmaritimemuseum.org


Issued on behalf of the Scottish Maritime Museum by 

Joanna Harrison, Mobile: 07884 187404.

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