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Comet Steamboat, Port Glasgow, Scotland

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The theme of my blog posting this evening is a pioneering steamboat (above) built in Port Glasgow in 1811-1812. Before focusing on this particular topic I will first address daily developments:

Scotland Tours: Made progress with a range of tours under review including a self-drive tour of the British Isles and a Rennie Mackintosh walking tour of Glasgow. Discovered its extremely difficult to get a rental car for one way, Belfast to Dublin. Only one company will do it!

Glasgow Weather: Mild, overcast and dry. About right for this time of year.

Glasgow Genealogy: Posted information to my Glasgow Ancestry blog on Stewart family history from information at Glasgow's Necropolis.

Catswhiskerstours website: Just completed a new page for Glasgow. Waiting for this and another Scotland tour page to go live.

Blogging: My Scottish Country Dance post of Jan 16th 2010 was well received by the local branch. They have put in a link to the post from their website.

Steamboat Comet: Port Glasgow is best known as the birthplace of the first steam passenger vessel which was developed by Henry Bell, a semi-literate stone-mason. The Comet was built by John Wood & Co and was launched July 24th 1812. The vessel provided passenger services between Glasgow, Greenock and Helensburgh on the river Clyde. John Wood, the builder was born 1745, became a carpenter and then purchased his own ship yard in 1781. He died Nov 22nd 1811 leaving his son to oversee the launch of the Comet on July 24th 1812.

The vessel shown in the video clip below is a replica and is evidently in a deteriorating state of repair. If this continues there will be a need for a replica of the replica! Why not establish a shipbuilding museum in Port Glasgow and take the vessel under cover? There is plenty of space, and much marine heritage and history to record in this area.

video

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Visit Port Glasgow, Scotland

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This evening, the theme of my blog posting is Port Glasgow. However, first I will address other daily developments, viz:

Glasgow Weather: Mild, dry and overcast. Virtually all the snow and ice has gone-for the time being!

Scotland Tours: Very positive developments: Two new enquiries, one of which looks quite promising. Also received confirmation of a somewhat unusual faith group Whisky Tour for next month.

Glasgow Genealogy: Posted information to my separate Glasgow Ancestry blog on the Lyall family which suffered a very high incidence of infant mortality, even by the standards of Victorian times.

Port Glasgow: This is tonight's blog theme. Hitherto, I have only ever passed through Port Glasgow en route between Greenock and somewhere else. However, after visiting the place and undertaking some research it transpires to have some fascinating history and architecture. Historically, Port Glasgow was connected with the Maxwell family which owned close by Newark Castle. A port was developed in the late 17th century as the Clyde was then too shallow to facilitate movement of large ships upstream to Glasgow. Then a shipbuilding industry began which grew and prospered and still lingers on to this day, albeit a shadow if its former self. The following images with supporting narrative will help the reader gain an appreciation of this town.

This is the early 19th century, Port Glasgow Town Buildings. Refer also video clip at foot of this post.


Port Glasgow War Memorial.

St. Andrew's Port Glasgow. (Church of Scotland)


Replica of the Comet, a very early (1812) steamboat which provided a passenger service on the Clyde.

Moribund shipyard.
A waterlogged soccer pitch, which only the seagulls can play.


The following two images show Port Glasgow's only remaining functioning shipyard, Fergusons.


These stakes are the remnants of timber ponds which are a relic of the (wooden) shipbuilding industry. They were used to store imported timber.

This is Newark Castle which originated as a 15th century Tower House.
Video no 1 shows a redundant ship building facility with cranes.

Video no 2 shows the impressive Town Buildings.

video video

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Visit Port Glasgow Timber Ponds, Scotland

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Today's blog theme is the unique timber ponds at Port Glasgow. However, before focusing on this piece of history, will first discuss other topics, viz:

Swan Image: An opportunity taken this morning. Swans can be aggressive or shy, so I was pleased to get close to this specimen on the Clyde.

Glasgow Weather: Dry and relatively warm with temperature at plus 6 or 8 centigrade. Most of the snow and ice has gone.

Tour Bookings: Quite busy. Interestingly, received an enquiry for a small group tour following a personal recommendation from guests dating back to a tour which I provided in 2007.

Blogging: Received favourable comment on details of a local war memorial posted to my Glasgow Ancestry blog. Have plans to post information on another war memorial- a task which takes considerable time due to the extensive lists of casualties. Today, I posted information on Motion family history obtained from an 1852 grave stone in Port Glasgow.

Port Glasgow Timber Ponds: This morning I motored down to Port Glasgow to explore a unique part of Scotland's industrial history. From time to time I provide day tours from cruise ships moored at Greenock and when driving along the A8 road have always been intrigued by the rows of wooden poles sticking out of the River Clyde between Langbank and Port Glasgow. Having researched the matter, it transpires that the wooden poles date from the 18th century when shipbuilding on the Clyde began in earnest in turn triggering a huge demand for timber. The timber was imported from North America in specially designed vessels fitted with bow doors. The imported wood was discharged into the Clyde and stored in the timber ponds until need for ship construction. The seawater environment both seasoned and preserved the logs. This timber trade declined due to a combination of (a) dredging of the Clyde which provided a deep water access to Glasgow and (b) switch from wooded to iron ship construction. Last wooden ship was built on the Clyde in 1859.

The rectangular timber ponds extend for 2.5 miles from Newark Castle to Langbank and consist of poles over 6 feet ( 2 metres) tall.

This research led me to discover a useful cycle path/walkway along the Clyde the existence of which I was previously unaware.



video video video

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