Friday, 5 October 2012

Late Victorian & Edwardian Era Scottish Passenger Steamers (Part Four)

This is the fourth and final part of my gallery featuring a series of views of late Victorian to Edwardian era Scottish passenger paddle and screw steamers. Sadly few examples of this type of transport remain, let alone in operation.

"T.S. Duchess of  Argyle"

The turbine steamer "Duchess of Argyle" was built in 1905-06 by William Denny & Brothers for the Caledonian Steam Packet Company. Powered by three direct drive steam turbines, she achieved 21.65 knots on trial, speed being essential for her intended Ardrossan to Arran run. In 1908 a co-operation agreement with the Glasgow and South Western Railway unfortunately deprived her of this route. So after having her main forward deck plated and port holes cut to enable sailing on more exposed routes she regularly ran between Larne (Northern Ireland) and Stranraer. Requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1915 as a troopship, she made 655 sailings across the English Channel until her release in 1919.

The "T.S. Duchess of Argyle" then made the Isles of Arran via the Kyles of Bute run her own route until 1935 before moving to the long distance routes of Gourock to Campbeltown and Inverary in 1936.

From 1939 and apart from some Admiralty tendering work during the war she mainly operated around the Firth of Clyde. She was unfortunately not suited to shorter "ferry routes", her lack of astern power earning her the less than complimentary title of "The Slow Boat to Rothesay". While she returned to the Kyles of Bute run after the war her days in service were now numbered and she was sold in February 1952.

Surprisingly she continued to be used by the Admiralty for experimental work in Portland Harbour until finally being scrapped at Newhaven as late as 1970.

The Osian (?) and horse-drawn passenger coach at Loch Etive

A steamer, believed to be the "Osian" (1885 - 1913), moored at a pier on Loch Etive. Since 1877 a tour had run from Oban sailing the 17 miles up Loch Etive (via Connell where it opened to the sea), with coach connections to Tyndrum and Ballachulish Railway Stations. From a pier at the north end of Loch Etive tourists were able to link with a carriage service which took them up Glen Etive to see Glen Coe. That is most likely the view illustrated here.

"P.S. Neptune" entering Ayr Harbour

The Paddle Steamer "Neptune" was built by Napier, Shanks & Bell of Yoker on the Clyde, being launched on the 10th March 1892, and achieving a credible 18 knots on trial. Then considered one of the fastest vessels of her size she was fitted out to a high standard by her owners, the Glasgow & South Western Railway. She went on to serve on the Ardrossan to Arran service, then the Rothsay and Kyles of Bute service from Greenock. She was replaced on services out of Ayr by the "P.S. Juno" in 1898. 

"P.S. Neptune" was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1914 during "The Great War" and renamed "HMS Nepaulin" but was lost on the 20th April 1917 when she struck a mine laid by the German submarine UB-12 near the 'Dyck lightvessel'. 19 persons on board were lost. UB-12 herself, which had been converted to a mine layer in 1917, disappeared without trace in August 1918 with all hands lost.

Bibliography :

- Internet Sources 
- All images are from my own personal collections and may be freely copied for non-commercial use provided a link is given back to this page.


  1. I love these histories, thank you.

    It is interesting, and unfortunate, that cooperation with the Glasgow and South Western Railway stopped some of the ferries doing business. I would have thought that they were serving somewhat different populations.

  2. An interesting question which I have been unable to resolve. The business practicalities of it all no doubt over-rode company pride. I do find it interesting that the Caledonian Railway and the Glasgow and South Western Railway, who also ran their own respective steamer companies, managed to swallow their great pride and fierce competitiveness and fully amalgamate at the 1923 grouping under the LMS Railway whereas they could not form such an alliance with the despised North British Railway Company and their own steamer company thus it went to the LNER.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...