Loch Lomond Steamers

Text © Copyright Kenneth Mallard, March 2010
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.


Introduction

Loch Lomond is the largest expanse of freshwater in the British Isles. The loch is 22½ miles long, its greatest breadth near the southern extremity is about 5 miles and its greatest depth 623 feet. The River Falloch enters Loch Lomond from Glen Falloch at the head of the loch and the River Endrick near Balmaha in the south-east. At Balloch which is situated on the southern shore, the River Leven connects the loch to the Firth of Clyde. The Loch Lomond steamers apart from the second-hand P.S. Princess Patricia and P.S. Queen Mary, were built at various shipyards on the upper and lower Clyde and, with the exception of P.S. Maid of the Loch which was dismantled and re-assembled because of its large size, were either sailed or hauled up the River Leven to enter the loch.
NS3882 : PS Maid of the Loch by Kenneth Mallard
The first steamer appeared on Loch Lomond in 1818 just a few years after Henry Bell's pioneering steamship The Comet was launched in 1812. David Napier inspired by Bell's Comet built the Marion, a 60 ft. wooden steamer, and plied the loch carrying tourists. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs were made popular by the works of Sir Walter Scott such as his novel Rob Roy and his narrative poem Lady of the Lake published in 1810. A few years later a group of businessmen established The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company buying a rival steamer, The Lady of the Lake. Competition was fierce with a succession of companies being formed and new and bigger steamers capitalising on the newly emerging tourist trade. With the arrival of the railways in Balloch in July 1850, the steamers connected with the passenger trains making Loch Lomond accessible for many people. Cruising remained popular and The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company was eventually taken over by the North British Steam Packet Company. Through a succession of acquisitions and nationalisation of the railways, the last steamer, Maid of the Loch, transferred to Caledonian MacBrayne and was withdrawn from service in 1981. Maid of the Loch, the last conventional paddle steamer to be built in Great Britain has been in the ownership of The Loch Lomond Steamship Company, a registered charity, since 1996 and is undergoing renovation with the aim of returning the Maid to steam operation in 2013.

Steamers of Loch Lomond


P.S. Marion
Marion was built of wood in 1817 by Archibald MacLachlan, Dumbarton. Named after the owner's wife, Marion initially entered service operating between Glasgow and Greenock before being placed in Loch Lomond in 1818 where she plied the loch in summer. Passengers would embark at Balloch for the sail up Loch Lomond. The first point of call was the place where the Inversnaid Hotel is now situated to enable passengers to visit Rob Roy's Cave. The trip continued to Pulpit Rock, a Covenanters' meeting place, at Inveruglas, 6 miles north of Tarbet then to Ardlui for a short stay before returning to Balloch.

Owner: David Napier
Builders: William Denny and Archibald MacLachlan, Dumbarton
Launched: 1817
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1818
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1827
Wrecked: c.1832
Construction: Wood
Dimensions: 60' x 13' x 2'9"
Gross tonnage: 57 tons
Engine builder: David Napier, Camlachie Foundry, Glasgow
Machinery: Steam, side lever. 1 cylinder. N.H.P. 20.
Speed: around 5 knots


The celebrity given to ROB ROY, by the novel
and the drama, has drawn great numbers of
visitors to the scene of his life and adve-
ntures; and throughout the whole of last
summer and autumn, the Glen of Aberfoyle
was the daily resort of numerous parties
of pleasure. So great indeed was the
attraction, that a steam boat was built
upon Loch Lomond, for the express purpose
of conveying these parties from a point
in the neighbourhood of Dumbarton, up the
Loch to ROB ROY'S cave, in the Glen of
Aberfoyle, and for many months it found
ample employment.

The Edinburgh Advertiser, 12th January 1819


THE MARION STEAM-BOAT will begin to
PLY through LOCH LOMOND on the 1st day
of June, and continue to do so every lawful
day during the Summer calling at Balmaha,
Luss, Rue-Ardennan, foot of Benlomond,
Tarbet, and Rob Roy's Cave, leaving Balloch
every morning at ten o'clock and returning
in the evening.

The Morning Chronicle, 5th May 1819


P.S. The Lady of the Lake
Owner: Purchased from the original owner by the Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company.
Builders: William Denny and Archibald MacLachlan, Dumbarton
Launched: 8th April 1825
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1825
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1834
Scrapped: 1834
Construction: Wood
Gross tonnage: 62 tons
Engine builder: Robert Napier, Camlachie Foundry, Glasgow
Machinery: Steam, side lever. 1 cylinder. N.H.P. 51.

P.S. Euphrosyne (formerly Post Boy)
Post Boy originally plied the Clyde from Glasgow to and from Greenock and Dumbarton before entering service on Loch Lomond.
Owner: David Napier
Builders: William Denny and Archibald MacLachlan, Dumbarton
Launched: 1820
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1827
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1838
Scrapped: Unknown
Construction: Wood
Dimensions: 70' x 13'
Gross tonnage: 65 tons
Engine builder: David Napier, Camlachie Foundry, Glasgow
Machinery: Steam, side lever. 1 cylinder. N.H.P. 20.

P.S. Balloch (formerly Robert Napier)
Owner: David Napier
Builders: John Wood & Co., East Yard, Port Glasgow
Launched: 1835
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1835
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1836
Scrapped: 1851
Dimensions: 99'7" x 11'2"
Engine builder: Robert Napier, Vulcan Foundry, Glasgow
Machinery: Steam. 1 cylinder.

P.S. Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond, launched in 1835, was an early iron ship. The first iron steam boat, the Aaron Manby, was built by the Horsely Bridge and Engineering Co. in 1822 at the Engineering Works yard at Tipton. Goliath, an 1836 77-ton ketch, was the first iron vessel registered by Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping.

Owners: David Napier & John McMurrich; The (New) Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company
Builders: David Napier
Launched: 1835
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1836
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1846
Scrapped: c.1864
Construction: Iron
Dimensions: 92'11" x 15'1"
Gross tonnage: 54 tons
Engine builder: David Napier, Glasgow
Machinery: Steam

P.S. Queen of Scots
Owners: Lewis McLellan
Builders: Smith & Rodger
Launched: 1838
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1838
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1841
Scrapped: 1852
Dimensions: 118'6" x 15'8"
Gross tonnage: 96 tons
Machinery: Steam


CONVEYANCE BY WATER
To BALLOCH (whence passengers are
forwarded to DUMBARTON & GLASGOW)
the Loch Lomond steamer, every after-
noon (Sun. excepted) at three in summer.
To TARBET and the HEAD of LOCH
LOMOND (calling at INVERSNAID), the
Loch Lomond steamer, every forenoon
(Sunday excepted) at eleven in summer.



CONVEYANCE BY WATER
The Loch Lomond steam packet leaves
the Balloch Inn every morning during
summer at ten, proceeding to the head
of the loch, calling at all intermediate
places, and returning about half-past
five in the afternoon.

Pigot & Co.'s National Commercial Directory
of the whole of Scotland and of The Isle of Man, 1837


P.S. The Waterwitch
Owner: David Napier & John McMurrich; The (New) Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company, Balloch
Builders: Caird and Company, Greenock
Launched: 1843
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1844
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1852
Scrapped: 1852
Dimensions: 130' x 15'
Machinery: Steam, simple diagonal. 2 cylinders.

P.S. Marchioness of Breadalbane
The Marchioness of Breadalbane was ordered by the Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company for service in Loch Lomond in 1845 however 'the new steamboat was found not to conform to the specification and mutual agreement of parties in respect of both want of speed and overdraught of water' and was 'rejected'. She was sold to the P. & O. Steamship Company who presented her to the Pasha of Egypt.

Ordered by: The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company, Balloch
Builders: Denny Brothers, Leven Shipyard, Dumbarton
Launched: 1847
Did not enter service on Loch Lomond
Dimensions: 138' x 17'6" x 6'10"
Gross tonnage: 130 tons
Engine builder: Caird and Company, Greenock
Machinery: Steam

P.S. Prince Albert
The Prince Albert was built for the Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company and sailed on the loch until 1862 when she was transferred to the Clyde under ownership of The Dumbarton Steamboat Company. In 1863 the Prince Albert was purchased by a foreign shipowner but re-purchased by a Liverpool firm in the same year for use on the ferry service to Eastham and re-named Richmond.

Owner: The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company, Balloch
Builders: William Denny & Brothers, Leven Shipyard, Dumbarton
Launched: 1850 but not registered until 1862
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1862 (transferred to the Clyde in 1862)
Scrapped: 1873
Construction: Iron
Dimensions: 142'2" x 17'1" x 7'
Gross tonnage: 109 tons
Engine builder: Caird and Company, Greenock
Machinery: Steam, simple diagonal. 2 cylinders. N.H.P. 60

P.S. Pilot
Shortly after entering service, the Pilot struck a rock off Ross Point on the eastern shore of the loch on 19 July 1850. The captain of the vessel signalled the Waterwitch steamer, Captain Rowan, which was seen half-a-mile away returning with an English excursion party from the head of the loch. The passengers of the Pilot were quickly transferred to the Waterwitch and conveyed to Balloch. The Pilot was run ashore and beached for some time whilst repairs were undertaken. The rock that she struck has since been known as Pilot Rock.

Owner: The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company, Balloch
Builders: William Denny & Brothers, Leven Shipyard, Dumbarton
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1850
Construction: Iron
Dimensions: 137'5" x 15'10" x 6'10"
Gross tonnage: 92 tons
Machinery: Steam

P.S. Queen Victoria
Owner: The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company, Balloch
Builders: Alexander Denny, Dumbarton
Launched: 1852
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1852
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1868
Scrapped: 1883
Construction: Iron
Dimensions: 131'8" x 15'1"
Gross tonnage: 93 tons
Engine builder: Caird and Company, Greenock
Machinery: Steam, simple diagonal. 2 cylinders.

P.S. Prince of Wales
The Prince of Wales was the last flush deck steamer built for the Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company and the last to have the funnel aft of the paddle boxes. On 13th September 1860, the Prince of Wales struck a submerged rock in thick fog north of Inchmurrin whilst proceeding down the Loch. She was run ashore on a small island to avoid sinking. Major repairs were carried out at Bowling before returning to service for nearly 40 more years.

Owners: The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company, Balloch; North British Steam Packet Company (1888); Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee (1896)
Builders: Laurence Hill & Company, Port Glasgow
Launched: 1857
Entered service on Loch Lomond: July 1858
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1899
Construction: Iron
Dimensions: 153'10" x 18'7" x 7'
Gross tonnage: 142 tons
Engine builder: Scott & Sinclair, Greenock
Machinery: Steam, non-compound, diagonal. 2 cylinders, 34". Stroke 42". N.H.P. 75

P.S. Prince Consort
The Prince Consort was the first steamer on the loch to have the funnel forward of the paddle shaft as well as the earliest saloon steamer to be owned by the Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company.

Owners: The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company, Balloch; North British Steam Packet Company (1888); Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee (1896)
Builders: Caird and Company, Greenock
Launched: 1862
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1862
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1898
Scrapped: 1899
Construction: Iron
Dimensions: 151'4" x 18'1" x 5'
Gross tonnage: 169 tons
Machinery: Steam, non-compound, diagonal. 2 cylinders, 22". Stroke 44". N.H.P. 80

P.S. Princess of Wales
The Princess of Wales was built for the Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company. She was sold to an Alloa firm in 1881 for trade on the Firth of Forth. The vessel changed ownership many times being re-named Albion in 1869 and Shamrock in 1903.

Owner: The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company, Balloch
Builders: Aitken and Mansel, Glasgow
Launched: 9th April 1866
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1866
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1881
Scrapped: 1912
Construction: Iron
Dimensions: 148' x 18' x 6'
Gross tonnage: 118 tons
Engine builder: James Aitken & Company, Glasgow
Machinery: Steam, simple oscillating. 2 cylinders. Stroke 45". N.H.P. 60

P.S. The Queen
The Queen was built in 1883 by Caird and Company, Greenock and was the first Loch Lomond steamer to be built of steel. On 15th June 1896, The Queen ran aground on a sandbank near Rossdhu Point and could not be re-floated until 10th July 1896 when the water level had risen by about four inches. She was scrapped in 1910 and broken-up at Balloch about 1911.

Owners: The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company, Balloch; North British Steam Packet Company (1888); Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee (1896)
Builders: Caird and Company, Greenock
Launched: 1883
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1883
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1910
Scrapped: 1911
Construction: Steel
Dimensions: 165'1" x 20'4" x 6'
Gross tonnage: 238 tons
Engine builder: Caird and Company, Greenock
Machinery: Steam, non-compound, diagonal. 2 cylinders, 36". Stroke 48". N.H.P. 86

P.S. Empress
Owners: The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company, Balloch; North British Steam Packet Company (1888); Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee (1896)
Builders: Napier, Shanks & Bell, Yoker
Launched: 14th November 1888
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1890
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1925
Scrapped: 1933
Construction: Iron
Dimensions: 165' x 20'1" x 6'
Gross tonnage: 229 tons
Engine builder: D. Rowan & Co., Glasgow
Machinery: Steam, non-compound, diagonal. 2 cylinders, 36". Stroke 48". N.H.P. 120

P.S. Prince George
Owner: Harry Grierson, Hugh Brown and others. Sails under the flag of the Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee. In 1915, the Railway Yearbook notes that the Prince George is the joint property of the North British and Caledonian Railway Company. London Midland & Scottish and London & North Eastern Railway Companies.
Builders: A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse
Launched: 1898
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1899
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1942
Scrapped: 1942
Construction: Steel
Dimensions: 165'6" x 21'7" x 6'
Gross tonnage: 256 tons
Engine builder: A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse
Machinery: Steam, non-compound, double diagonal. 2 cylinders, 34". Stroke 48". N.H.P. 77

P.S. Princess May
Owners: Harry Grierson, Hugh Brown and others. Sails under the flag of the Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee. In 1915, the Railway Yearbook notes that the Prince George is the joint property of the North British and Caledonian Railway Company. London Midland & Scottish and London & North Eastern Railway Companies; British Transport Commission.
Builders: A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse
Launched: 1898
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1898
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1952
Scrapped: 1953
Construction: Steel
Dimensions: 165'6" x 21'7" x 6'
Gross tonnage: 256 tons
Engine builder: A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse
Machinery: Steam, non-compound, double diagonal. 2 cylinders, 34". Stroke 48". N.H.P. 77
Speed: 14½ knots
Passengers: 871

P.S. Prince Edward
Prince Edward was the first Loch Lomond steamer to be fitted with compound engines. She left Pointhouse on 4th May 1911 and reached Dumbarton where she proceeded up the River Leven towards Balloch. However after four days and a short distance, she grounded at Kirkland due to the low state of the water and, despite strenuous efforts, the Prince Edward remained until November 1911 when, after a severe rainstorm, two traction engines managed to tow her the remaining distance to Balloch.

Owners: Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee; London Midland & Scottish and London & North Eastern Railway Companies; British Transport Commission.
Builders: A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse
Launched: 1911
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1912
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1954
Disposed: 1955 (Balloch)
Construction: Steel
Dimensions: 175' x 22'1" x 5'
Gross tonnage: 304 tons
Engine builder: A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse
Machinery: Steam, compound, diagonal. 2 cylinders, 26" and 48". Stroke 48". N.H.P. 133
Speed: 15 knots
Passengers: 988

P.S. Queen Mary (formerly Earl Godwin)
The Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee purchased the Queen Mary from the City Steamboat Company where she was in service on the River Thames. Shortly after arriving at Balloch, the Queen Mary was seriously damaged by fire and never entered service. She was eventually scrapped in 1929. P.S. Queen Mary was the first vessel to carry the name Queen Mary.

Owner: (London County Council); Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee.
Builders: Napier & Miller, Yoker
Launched: 12th April 1905
Transferred to Loch Lomond: 1914 - did not enter service.
Scrapped: 1929
Construction: Steel
Dimensions: 130' x 18'6" x 2'10"
Gross tonnage: 116 tons
Engine builder: Scott, Sinclair & Company, Greenock
Machinery: Steam, double diagonal. 2 cylinders

P.S. Princess Patricia (formerly Shakespeare)
Unusually for Loch Lomond steamers of this time, Princess Patricia and Queen Mary had their engines forward of the paddle shafts and the boiler behind.

Owners: (London County Council); Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee; London Midland & Scottish and London & North Eastern Railway Companies
Builders: J. I. Thornycroft, Southampton
Launched: 1905
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1914
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1938
Scrapped: 1939 (Balloch)
Construction: Steel
Dimensions: 130'4" x 18'
Gross tonnage: 120 tons
Engine builder: Scott, Sinclair & Company, Greenock
Machinery: Steam, compound, diagonal. 2 cylinders.

P.S. Maid of the Loch
Maid of the Loch was the last conventional paddle steamer to be built in Great Britain and was a replacement for the elderly Princess May and Prince Edward. Built of steel by A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse, she was dismantled and transported to Balloch by rail on the southern edge of the loch where she was re-assembled and launched on 5th March 1953. She was named by Lady Watson, wife of General Sir Daril Watson, a member of the Railway Executive on 22nd May 1953. Following the ceremony, the ship made her maiden cruise to Ardlui at the head of Loch Lomond. On board were 120 guests, many of them representing trade and industry in the West of Scotland. Maid of the Loch made her first scheduled sailing on 25th May 1953 leaving BallochExternal link and calling at Balmaha, RowardennanExternal link, Tarbet, InversnaidExternal link and ArdluiExternal link. Regular steamer sailings continued till the end of the 1981 season when, due to a continuing decline in passenger numbers from the 1960s, the service was no longer viable to operate. Trains continued to operate on the section of line from Balloch Central StationExternal link (originally Balloch D & B Station) to Balloch Pier StationExternal link (originally Balloch Wharf Station) until 1986. Sailings operated for a short time by the M.V. Countess Fiona (originally M.V. Countess of Breadalbane) however with little reason to continue operating, the station and section of line closed on 28th September 1986.

Owners: British Transport Commission; Caledonian Steam Packet Company (1957); Caledonian MacBrayne (1973); Alloa Brewery Company (1981); Australian Sea Management Corporation (1989); The Francis Hotel Group (1990); Dumbarton District Council (1992); The Loch Lomond Steamship Company (1996).
Builders: A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse
Launched: 1953
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1953
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1982
Construction: Steel
Dimensions: 191' x 28'1" x 4'8½"
Gross tonnage: 555
Engine builder: Rankin & Beardmore, Greenock
Machinery: Steam, compound, diagonal. 2 cylinders, 28" and 48". Stroke 51". I.H.P. 900
Speed: 13¾ knots
Passengers: 1,000

Since 1996, Maid of the Loch has been owned by The Loch Lomond Steamship CompanyExternal link, a registered charity, whose aim is to return her to steam operation on the loch. A dedicated team of volunteers has worked tirelessly to restore as much of the ship as possible. In 2004 the steamer was included in the Designated List of the National Register of Historic Vessels in the U.K. The Loch Lomond Steamship Company have produced a Maid of the Loch computer animationExternal link. The steamer is open to the public - check the Loch Lomond Steamship Company website for details of opening times.

NS3882 : PS Maid of the Loch by Kenneth Mallard NS3882 : PS Maid of the Loch by Kenneth Mallard NS3882 : PS Maid of the Loch by Kenneth Mallard NS3882 : PS Maid of the Loch by Kenneth Mallard

M.V. Countess Fiona (formerly Countess of Breadalbane; Countess of Kempock)
Although a motor vessel rather than a steam vessel, Countess Fiona is included for completeness to the Loch Lomond Paddle Steamers fleet list. Countess Fiona was acquired and brought to the Loch by the Alloa Brewery Company to maintain a cruise schedule while Maid of the Loch's future was decided. She continued sailing until 1989 when her then owners went in to liquidation. Countess Fiona was scrapped in 1999 - her condition having badly deteriorated after nine years lying on the Balloch slipway.

Owners: (Caledonian Steam Packet Company; A.C. Cranes Ltd.; Roy Ritchie; Catherine Ritchie; Offshore Workboats Ltd.); Alloa Brewery Company (1981); Australian Sea Management Corporation (1989); The Francis Hotel Group (1990); Dumbarton District Council (1992)
Builders: William Denny & Brothers, Leven Shipyard, Dumbarton
Launched: 1936
Entered service on Loch Lomond: 1982
Withdrawn from service on Loch Lomond: 1989
Scrapped: 1999
Construction: Steel
Dimensions: 90'11" x 18'1
Gross tonnage: 106
Engine builder: Gleniffer Engines Ltd., re-engined also with Glennifer Diesels in 1956
Machinery: 2 x diesel. 2 x 6 cylinders.

Steamer companies


David Napier
Operated from 1816 - 1828 when David Napier formed a partnership with John McMurrich.

David Napier & John McMurrich
Partnership formed in 1828 - 1845

The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company
Operated from 1825 - 1851 until G. & J. Burns purchased David Napier's controlling interest in the Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company.

Lewis McLellan
Set-up a rival company on Loch Lomond in 1838 with Queen of Scots.

The New Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company
Operated steamer sailings from 1844 until being sold to the North British Steam Packet Company for £30,000 in 1889.

North British Steam Packet Company
Operated from 1889 - 1896 until being taken over by Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee.

Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee
The Caledonian Railways (Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line, &c.) Bill of 1892 gave effect to an agreement between the Company and the North British Company with respect to the joint ownership of the railway between Dumbarton and Balloch, the Pier at Balloch and the joint acquisition and working of steam-boats on Loch Lomond and construction of railways at or near Dumarton, 2 miles 60 chains in length. The Joint Line Committee operated the steamers on Loch Lomond from 1896 until transferring the fleet to the London Midland & Scottish and London & North Eastern Railway Companies in 1934.

London Midland & Scottish and London & North Eastern Railway Companies
Operated steamer sailings from 1934 till the amalgamation of the railway companies on 1st January 1948.

British Transport Commission
Operated steamer sailings under the British Railway Executive Scottish Region after the amalgamation of the railway companies on 1st January 1948

The Caledonian Steam Packet Company Ltd.
The Caledonian Steam Packet Company Ltd. was the shipping subsidiary of the Caledonian Railway Co. Established in 1889, the company was dormant although legally still in existence following the amalgamation of its owner, the Caledonian Railway Company, into the London Midland & Scottish Railway Company in 1923. The Caledonian Steam Packet Company was reborn when the British Railways Clyde Shipping Services was renamed in 1957.

Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd.
Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd. was formed by the amalgamation of the Caledonian Steam Packet Company Ltd. and David MacBrayne Ltd. on 1st January 1973. The company operated steamer sailings on Loch Lomond until the end of the 1981 season on 30th August of that year.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company
The Loch Lomond Steamship Company, a registered charity, has owned Maid of the Loch since 1996. See above.

Cruises


In 1938, cruises began at Balloch Pier where there were 'tea gardens, motor parks and numerous other conveniences for visitors'. Steamers would pass between the large island of Inch Cailleach and the mainland, before touching at Balmaha then threading their way through the islands and heading across the loch for the village of Luss. Leaving Luss, the steamers entered the upper region of the Loch, characterised by its mountainous borders. At Rowardennan, passengers who planned an ascent of Ben Lomond would disembark. From Rowardennan, the steamers would cross the Loch once again for Tarbet where passengers could walk or ride to Arrochar and sail down Loch Long or proceed either north or south from the Arrochar and Tarbet railway station of the L.N.E.R. West Highland Railway. The next port of call was Inversnaid on the eastern shore where a coach ran to Stronalachar on Loch Katrine in connection with a Trossachs Tour. The trip cruise continued past Eilean–a-vow with the ruins of a stronghold of the MacFarlanes and Pulpit RockExternal link, a Covenanters' meeting place, at Inveruglas, then to Ardlui situated one mile from the head of the loch. The return journey could be made by steamer, motor or the railway joined at Ardlui.

In 1953, British Railways advertised 'Daily Sailings from Balloch Pier commencing 25th May by luxurious new paddle steamer'. A day return to Ardlui (Head of Loch) was 8s 6d or 7s 0d for an afternoon cruise. Sailings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays were included in the 'Three Lochs Tour' from the Clyde Resorts.

In 1970, The Caledonian Steam Packet Company Ltd. through connections by British Rail, offered the 'Three Lochs Tour' on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays taking-in Loch Long, Loch Goil and Loch Lomond. Trains connected with steamers at Craigendoran and Gourock for daily sailings to Arrochar on Loch Long. Passengers made their own way to Tarbet, two miles away on Loch Lomond where they could embark on Maid of the Loch for Balloch Pier and onward rail connection to Dumbarton Central and Glasgow Central railway stations. The Tour could also be made in the reverse direction from Balloch Pier. Fares were 29s from Glasgow or 27s from Port Glasgow for the round on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Calls could no longer be made at Tarbet after the pier closed in 1975.

NS3882 : Balloch Pier station from Loch Lomond by John Lawson NS3693 : Luss Pier by Sarah Charlesworth NS3598 : Steamer at  Rowardennan Pier by Sarah Charlesworth NS3598 : Pier at Rowardennan by Sarah Charlesworth NN3115 : Ardlui Pier by Gerald England

Shipyards and engine builders


A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse
A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse was established in 1847 under the title of Pointhouse Shipyard and Warroch Street Engine Works by brothers Anthony and John Inglis.

Aitken and Mansel

Caird and Company
Caird and Company of Greenock was established as an engineering business in 1828. The company moved in to shipbuilding in the 1840s after winning an order to build four ships for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. Taken over by Harland and Wolff in 1915, the company continued in business till 1935 when shipbuilding ceased due to declining orders.

William Denny & Brothers
William Denny Snr. was the first recorded member of the Denny family to be engaged in shipbuilding. Denny's son, also William established William Denny and Brothers, naval architects in 1842 with his brothers Alexander and Peter. In 1850, Peter formed a new partnership John Tulloch and John McAusland. Following William Denny's death in 1854, there were many changes in the partnership, each with a family connection till the demise of the company in 1963.

Laurence Hill & Company
Laurence Hill & Company was a long established shipbuilder with a yard and engine works at Port Glasgow. The company was purchased in 1870 by Cunliff and Dunlop after it failed with liabilities of £25,000.

Archibald MacLachlan

David Napier

Napier, Shanks & Neil

Napier & Miller
Napier & Miller was established in 1898 and took over the neighbouring business of Napier, Shanks & Neil. In 1906, the company moved to a new site at Old Kilpatrick, constructing 120 ships before being purchased by National Shipbuilders Securities in 1930. In 1931, the contents of the yard were sold off and the yard demolished.

David Rowan and Co.
David Rowan made engines for shipbuilders who had no engine works.

John Wood and Co.
John Wood was established in East Yard, Port Glasgow from around 1810 - 1835.

Balloch steam slipway and engine house

Construction began on the Balloch steam slipway and engine house in 1901 by the Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee to assemble, maintain and repair steamers. The slipway comprises of a broad-gauge railway set on wooden sleepers with a central rail with ratchet teeth upon which runs a wooden carriage. The engine house contains a boiler, steam engine and winding gear. The slipway was regularly used from its completion in 1902 until 1990 after which it fell in to disrepair. Volunteers from The Loch Lomond Steamship Company rebuilt the facilities bringing the slipway back into operation again. On 14th November 2006, H.R.H. The Princess Royal officially opened the building and visitor interpretation centre. Check the Loch Lomond Steamship Company website for details of opening times.

NS3882 : Balloch Steam Slipway by Kenneth Mallard NS3882 : Balloch steam slipway by Kenneth Mallard NS3882 : Balloch Steam Slipway engine and gearing by Kenneth Mallard

Railways


NS3881 : Former Balloch Central Railway Station by Kenneth Mallard NS3881 : Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Junction Railway by Kenneth Mallard NS3882 : Blue trains at Balloch Pier by John Lawson NS3882 : Balloch Pier by Kenneth Mallard


Links


The Loch Lomond Steamship Company LinkExternal link

Scottish Screen Archive - 1950s film clip of workmen renovating the 'Maid of the Loch' passenger steamer, LinkExternal link

Steam ships - A gallery depicting the various types of vessels with steam plant by Chris Allen, LinkExternal link

The Stationary Steam Engine - A gallery of photographs of different types of stationary steam engines with accompanying explanatory notes by Chris Allen, LinkExternal link

Appendices


Appendix I - Bibliography


Online resources

Appendix II - Further reading


Acknowledgements

Grateful thanks are due to Leslie Brown of The Loch Lomond Steamship Company for generously providing information used in the research of this article and to John Lawson for copies of timetables and leaflets. Thanks are also due to Sarah Charlesworth and Gerald England for allowing the inclusion of photographs within this article.

Author's notes

This article is an on-going project. Photographs especially of the areas that the steamers called at around the loch and more information will be added in due course. Any information will be much appreciated.

Other Geograph articles by Kenneth Mallard


Eaglesham - the story of an 18th century planned villageExternal link
Vernacular Building in EagleshamExternal link
The Darvel to Eaglesham weavers trailExternal link


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