Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Sad to see the Bluebird story is unresolved as craft reportedly heads back to Loch Fad

Some things amaze me, and the Bluebird scenario, or apparent fiasco, is one of them.

It’s hard to believe the wreckage was recovered, restored, and trialled, yet there was no clear definition of ownership and responsibility.

Given that there must have been a fair amount of money involved, which must have been administered, it’s hard to see how things got to where they are without that clear definition being spelt out somewhere in the legal documentation around the project.

Yet, as I noted a while ago, the saga of who’s in control is STILL unclear with the dispute as active as it was back then.

The man behind the restoration of Bluebird plans to run the vessel on a Scottish loch for a second summer, despite the threat of legal action.

Donald Campbell’s craft was recovered from Coniston Water in 2001 and rebuilt by Tyneside engineer Bill Smith.

Last week, lawyers for the Ruskin Museum demanded the hydroplane be handed over so it can go on display.

But Mr Smith said the vessel should be seen in action and it would be taken back for test runs on Loch Fad in July.

Campbell’s family gifted Bluebird’s wreckage to the museum in Coniston, but the Ruskin Museum Trust and Mr Smith’s Bluebird Project restoration team cannot agree what the craft’s future should be.

Bluebird: Iconic craft set for Scottish loch test run

If both sides really care about the craft, then the solution is that both should be satisfied by having it on show in the museum during the winter season, and out on the water, running (to keep it in good order) during the summer season when weather permits.

Incredibly, they don’t even seem to have a problem funding this, which is usually where these projects die their death, with no money to maintain such craft, or even fill the fuel tanks!

One word for all those involved –  DAFT!

I hope this isn’t really a clash of personalities waging war by proxy, with Bluebird potentially being locked up in some legal battle, and lost to everyone while it plays out.

And this nonsense after the trials on Loch Fad went so well.

Bluebird Planes Courtesy Zak

Bluebird Planes Courtesy Zak


18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Maid of the Loch will open to visitors at Easter

Nice to see the Maid of the Loch continues to progress toward the ultimate goal of sailing on Loch Lomond once more.

Following a cash injection from the Scottish Government, the tearoom will be opening with guided tours of the ship and nearby Balloch Steam Slipway will be available.

Seems the work in hand will see the addition of a lift!

That will help in getting between decks – they never had things like that when the paddle steamer was originally in service.

From Easter weekend onwards, the Maid of the Loch will open every day until the end of October. Opening hours and any closures due to works on the ship will be posted online.

Some people like to be glum, but I’ve always held out for this restoration to have a successful conclusion, no matter how slow progress may seem at times.

I sailed on the Maid as a kid, only a few years before the paddle steamer was taken out of service and disappeared, so never even got the chance to go back.

Then I was wandering around a park somewhere at the bottom of the loch, near Balloch, and came across what seemed to be little more than the abandoned hull one day.

No Internet or easy way to ask about it then, so I’m afraid I forgot about the find (I didn’t even get a pic), and it was years later, as the recovery project was made public and an appeal was made for ‘scavenged’ parts to be returned to help with the restoration, that I learned it had not been scrapped.

  • Maid of the Loch was the last paddle steamer built in Britain.
  • It was built by A. & J. Inglis of Glasgow and was launched on March 5, 1953. It entered service later that year.
  • The ship operated on Loch Lomond for 29 years, and as with other steamers, cost pressures led to the ship being laid up after a last commercial sailing on August 31, 1981.
  • A series of attempts to bring the boat back into service under a succession of owners were unsuccessful, to which it gradually deteriorated at the side of the loch.
  • Since 2016, it has been undergoing restoration work at Balloch Pier thanks to The Loch Lomond Steamship Company.

Maid of the Loch set to open its doors on Easter weekend

I intend to make a serious attempt at a revisit to see the steamer. Last time I did it things went very badly, as I was able to drive, but my car’s battery decided to expire without warning in the car park near the Maid. Rather than a nice visit, I ended up spending the rest of the day getting buses, trains, other vehicles, and long walks in order to get a new battery and rescue my car.

This time I’ll either cycle (I did just over half the trip last year, and it was easy) – even though the Glasgow/Balloch is reputedly one many try, but never finish 🙂

Alternatively, I’ve been looking at alternate transport I can afford (ie free) and found that the same route that can me to Helensburgh also goes to Balloch, so might be a nice day out.

I need a decent pic.

When I last visited and actually took a digital pic, the camera I used was so down-market (at the time, a 1 MP Olympus cost around £560 – I know because I had to buy one for work) that it only pretended to take a 640×480 pixel image. In reality, the resolution was about half of that, and it interpolated the capture to scale it to that number.

I don’t even have those image, or I do, but the barely used hard drive they were stored on failed, and fixing/recovering is a job I need to get around to one day. Before you ask, IT was the backup, and only had a few hours use before going wonky. Of course, it was also the only backup drive I’ve ever really needed , as the source did fail.


Was there ever any follow-up to the incident that occurred during the slipping of the vessel some months back?

I don’t recall seeing anything in the news after the initial report, and the media had looked as if it was going to feed well on it.

16/04/2019 Posted by | council, Maritime, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Almost a ‘City of Adelaide’ story

Although I’m just interested – since I knew, and was even on board, The Carrick, when it wasn’t sinking in Glasgow – rather than a fanatic, I do find myself reading between the lines of the stories that my search bot sometimes finds published in Australian media.

While I’m not impressed by any ‘conspiracy theories’, I keep getting the impression that there’s something not just quite ‘right’ about the way plans are vaporised, or are just plain inconsistent, after being shown to the folk working on the ship.

We’ve just had ‘Smoke and Mirrors Day‘, and that the sort of feeling I get whenever I read of some plan that they might depend on.

As if others with their own agenda are making plans, and the like of the City of Adelaide group are a bit of a nuisance, but have to be thrown crumbs to stop them becoming a bigger nuisance, and disrupting even more of some scheming they know nothing about.

I don’t know enough, and never will as I’m not spending the amount of time it would take to find out more, but I was interested to see an article today, not about City of Adelaide as such, but nevertheless revealing as regards the surrounding area, and the interest who have fingers in it, and what is happening there.

That’s all.

It is astonishing that after 183 years there is nowhere in the state that visitors – let alone our own citizens and students – can get an overview of our history. Such an overview that would excite interest and signpost heritage tourism attractions across the state. It would be a place where South Australia’s story could begin to be appreciated.

Much can be learnt from the state’s more than 350 museums and historical organisations, but the big picture is missing.

As I write, another opportunity to address this gap is threatened. The former main workshop of the Government Dockyard at Port Adelaide – the vast sawtooth-roofed Shed 26 – is the last surviving building of an enterprise that serviced ports across the state. It may be demolished for housing.

It and the adjacent Fletcher’s Dock sit next to a State Heritage Place, ‘The Fletcher’s Slip Precinct’. Managed as one, those sites represent the last chance to develop a ‘must-see’ Port attraction at a highly visible site in the Inner Harbour – a site where currently inaccessible, unique collections and significant vessels of the SA Maritime Museum and the clipper ship City of Adelaide could combine to form a lively and appealing precinct. Indeed, the entire Maritime Museum could relocate there and become the drawcard that old port cities like Fremantle, Liverpool and Glasgow have had the sense to create.

It could even become the Museum of South Australian History – a proposal going back to the 1930s – mentioned in the Government’s election platform.

Saving Shed 26: why keeping this threatened building could rejuvenate the Port

Carrick berth

Carrick berth and former car parking area

05/04/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Silly season – aka Ferry tender time

I’ve said before, I’ll say it again, and I know I’ll say it yet again in a few years.

When ferry tender comes around – you can be sure SOMEBODY will be unhappy.

And, nowadays, you can probably also be pretty sure someone will start jumping up and down and shouting about how the Government is doing something is illegal, or something similar.

I mentioned this tender a few weeks ago, things seemed to be quiet, now…

A firm has claimed the proposed next £370m Northern Isles ferry contract poses an “existential threat” to its market position.

Three companies tendering for the contract – CalMac Ferries, Förde Reederei Seetouristik GmbH and Serco NorthLink – were revealed by the Scottish government last month.

Lawyers for Pentland Ferries told the Court of Session the Scottish Government was acting unlawfully.

Well, THAAR’s a surprise.

Just like some years ago, someone has better and smarter lawyers than the Government, and they know the law better.

Good luck with that.

Northern Isles contract ‘poses threat’ to Pentland Ferries

Care to bet on whether or not the challenge is valid, or… sinks?

The real problem with this is the money that is wasted while this sort of stuff is debated.

Cats could do better…


Puzzled cat

27/03/2019 Posted by | Maritime | , , | Leave a comment

So, that’s what became of the Clydebuilt Museum building

Since I happened to end up in the Braehead shopping centre yesterday, I had to wander along to see what had become of the former Clydebuilt museum building.

I did manage to visit the museum a few times, and it was quite good.

Oh dear.

Capital Shopping Centres, which owned Braehead then, withdrew the museum’s funding in 2010, making one full-time and three part-time members of staff redundant – most of the exhibits were said to have gone to a museum in Irvine. The withdrawal of funding from the museum trust was blamed on a general economic downturn at the time.

The building was a gift to the museum when it opened, and the money from Capital covered wages and general running costs, which would clearly have been in the order of tens of thousands over the years. The Clydebuilt Museum opened in September 1999 and had attracted about 15,000 visitors each year.

Now, it’s a glorified doughnut hut.

Former Clydebuilt Museum building

Former Clydebuilt Museum building

23/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Yet another misleading headline

There seems to be an increasing number of headlines on articles I look at which don’t accurately reflect the media content.

I’ve noticed this on a number of news articles, and wonder if it’s just poor proofreading and cross-checking (assuming there is any nowadays, given the number of complaints I see some people post about how poorly checked some articles are), or a blatant aim by the editors and writers to attract readers (and ad clicks) to their web site by offering an apparently interesting story in the headline, but which then disappears into little more than speculation, ifs, buts, and maybes, when the article is read.

I may be wrong, but this article headline seems pretty clear and definite to me:

Scotland’s largest drydock to be transformed into ferry shipyard

I expected to read details of who was carrying out this transformation, and when it was planned to happen.

But when I read the accompanying text, all I got was a load of waffle about broken promises, and ongoing campaign and effort to have the dock turned into a shipyard – so far, not happening!

Pretty poor stuff, and you sometimes have to wonder if anyone actually reads the article presented to go with the headline, or why the headline was definite, when the story was far from supportive of the claim.

Construction of a floating jetty for the MOD continues night and day in Inchgreen dry dock

Construction of a floating jetty for the MOD continues night and day in Inchgreen dry dock (2008)

21/03/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, Maritime, Naval, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Nice to see progress reported with TS Queen Mary

Having mentioned the depressing lack of interest with regard to some maritime projects and vessel rescues (which I won’t divert into here), it’s actually quite nice to be able to mention positive progress with regard to the TS Queen Mary, now permanently berthed on the River Clyde next to the Glasgow Science Centre.

I even managed some pics (in better weather than we have now – I haven’t been down there for ages, and only passed quickly a few weeks ago, during the ‘warm’ spell). Still there 🙂

TS Queen Mary

TS Queen Mary

It makes a nice change not to be mentioning some bad news about one such project.

The Princess Royal has backed efforts to restore a historic steamship, which is berthed in Glasgow.

The TS Queen Mary, which is undergoing a multimillion pound refurbishment, returned to the city for the first time since 1977 in November 2016.

Friends of TS Queen Mary said Princess Anne’s decision to become the ship’s royal patron was a “huge honour” which would boost the restoration work.

The steamer was named after her great-grandmother Queen Mary.

Chairman of TS Friends of Queen Mary Iain Sim said: ‘We are delighted and deeply honoured that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has agreed to become our Royal Patron.

“This is a great boost for our ongoing work to restore this British icon to her former glory and to preserve her for future generations.”

The TS Queen Mary was built in 1933 and was affectionately called “The Glasgow Boat”, having sailed daily from Broomielaw.

Trustees say that once restoration works are complete, the TS Queen Mary will offer educational experiences for school pupils.

It will also be offered as a venue for functions.

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander said: “I’m incredibly proud to support this multi-faceted project to refurbish and promote this iconic steamer as an exciting visitor attraction as well as an educational, interactive maritime experience.

“Its permanent berth at Glasgow Science Centre is the perfect location for what was once the world’s largest and most luxurious Clyde pleasure steamer.”

Princess Royal backs Glasgow’s TS Queen Mary restoration

12/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

City of Adelaide and Falls of Clyde mentioned in blog

While I just keep one eye on events around the City of Adelaide, and only recently learned of the significance of the Falls of Clyde, there are blogs which are better placed to find detail about the progress and status of these projects.

One such is ‘The Old Salt Blog‘, which I’ve been alerted to a recent post that summarised the situation around the City of Adelaide (better known to Scots perhaps as The Carrick), and which attracted a comment about the Falls of Clyde in response, and is worth a closer look…

In 2017, it was announced that a permanent home would be created for the ship in Adelaide’s Dock 2. A new road and pedestrian walkway would be built and the area would become ac enter for historic ships and boats. A minimum of $3 million in funding toward maintaining the vessels over the next five years was also promised.

In the last two years, nothing has happened to prepare Dock 2 for the clipper ship. The area is still a largely inaccessible, industrial wasteland. In the meantime, however, real estate development has progressed in the area around Dock 1. The clipper ship City of Adelaide is being kicked off the dock to make way for a 750 unit housing development.

World’s Oldest Clipper Ship, City Of Adelaide – Forced to Move, In Need of a Home

It’s worth looking at that post, and the first reply (I’d have to quote the whole text for it to make sense, and don’t think I can). This mentions the problems with the Adelaide, Falls of Clyde, Cutty Sark (even the Glasgow School of Art, due to the fires these have suffered), but at least is able to be positive, with references to Glenlee, Queen Mary, and Maid of the Loch.

Things may be dire for some, but over time, others are being saved.


TS Queen Mary

TS Queen Mary


MV Glenlee

MV Glenlee


Sunk Carrick

Sunk Carrick

07/03/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clyde Walkway – Blockade Runners to Spain memorial

Apparently missed by local media (I didn’t see any mentions, nor did a quick search find any), a memorial to the blockade runner to Spain was unveiled on Saturday, 02 March 2019.

I only found two mentions online, and one of those was the RMT’s own invitation to members to attend the unveiling. It notes the Glasgow Shipping Branch worked for some 15 years to raise funding for the memorial.

Carelessly, I’d been passing this spot for some time, and failed to stop for some pics of the construction of the memorial (which it obviously was, even if I didn’t know for what), always being late on my out, and then returning home via a different route, and forgetting to detour back to the spot for some pics.

I remembered yesterday, only to find it had been completed and unveiled the day before (my usual perfect timing).

Previously just the bare stonework was to be seen, then I noticed the sculptural parts had been added.

The memorial remembers British seafarers who braved fascist bombs and U-boats to trade with Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

The rail and maritime union RMT and its Glasgow Shipping Branch raised the money for this memorial to the crews of British ships who risked, and in some cases gave, their lives to break Franco’s blockade of Spanish Republican ports. Thirty-five merchant navy and eight Royal Navy seafarers died (in May 1937 the destroyer HMS Hunter struck a mine laid by Franco’s navy south of Almeria), while almost 50 were injured on vessels attacked by submarine, naval, and aerial forces then under fascist control.

The Spanish Republic’s embassy in London reported that in the first two years of the war, up to June 1938, 13 British merchant ships had been sunk, 51 others bombed from the air, two had been damaged by mines, five were attacked by submarines and 23 had been seized or detained by Franco’s forces. By the end of the war in April 1939 the figure had rises. At least 26 sunk or wrecked – though the number of British seafarer deaths is unknown.

Later in the war, British ships and crews played a key role in taking thousands of Republican refugees to safety, again running the gauntlet of Franco’s mines and bombs.

The full story is long, complex, legal, and political, so is best read in historical accounts, rather than attempted in summary here.

The memorial was designed by sculptor Frank Casey, list many of the ships lost, and stands on the other side of Glasgow Bridge from Arthur Dooley’s memorial, La Pasionaria (Dolores Ibárruri) .

Click for bigger.

Blockade Runners to Spain memorial

Blockade Runners to Spain memorial

Plaque detail.

Blockade Runners memorial panel

Blockade Runners memorial plaque

04/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Falls of Clyde – Not just a wet spot along from New Lanark

I have to confess that when some remarks were made to me about another subject, and compared it to the Falls of Clyde, I was absolutely lost and confused. I just couldn’t see the connection, and was afraid to ask.

It just so happens I live not too far from the location of the actual Falls of Clyde, which I discovered many years ago, and have always been a little sad that it’s so hard to see them in full flow. You have to time your visit to scheduled dates as the waters are usually diverted to a nearby hydroelectric power station, so a chance visit usually only shows little more than a trickle. The open days have become quite popular (or had, last time I was able to get there), so it’s not really much fun on those days either, as the place can be quite crowded if it’s a really nice day, since access is slightly limited.

So, despite having completed a small essay on New Lanark, including the Falls of Clyde, and occasionally looked up the name online, I somehow NEVER came across any references to the OTHER Falls of Clyde.

In fact, this was the FIRST EVER reference I was ever given to that one, and it really came as a surprise…

Historic Tall Ship Falls of Clyde Almost Sinks at Dock

This really is a good example of how you can think you know about a subject, yet may miss a whole aspect if you look in wrong places, or just don’t look deeply enough at online searches related to the name. Although I suspect I am not wholly to blame since web searches claim to be ‘learn’ what subject you are interested in, so if this is so and I always picked results related to the geographic location, it may explain why the ship never figured at the top of my results.

Sadly, now that I have picked a few search results relating to the ship, it is beginning to appear in my results, and there’s more bad news…

Historic ship Falls of Clyde is now up for auction

It’s basically falling apart after years of neglect and lack of maintenance, and the port where it lies has finally decided it is a hazard, which is no great surprise.

Unfortunately, despite various plans and proposals, those interesting in saving the ship have, so far, been unable to raise enough interest and money for any of those plans to be realised.

The auction result was no great surprise – nobody wanted the floating liability.

The Falls of Clyde didn’t sell at auction. Now what?

It seems there are many who think the remains should be saved, but few who will provide, or have, the cash to make it happen.

Those who wish(ed) to bid on the ship must post a bond of $1.5m to cover the cost of removal of the vessel from Honolulu Harbour, an event that must take place within 60 days from the sale.

The clock may really be ticking on this one, as it has on similar ship rescues, as there is a potential deadline, and few options…

Officials, though, do want to have the Falls of Clyde out of the harbor by June 1, the start of the 2019 hurricane season.

The Department of Transportation said it has three potential options for the Falls of Clyde:

  1. It could sell the vessel.
  2. It could donate it to a government agency.
  3. Or it could “otherwise dispose of the vessel” as provided by law.

The Falls of Clyde has been at Honolulu Harbor for years, rotting in place. In fact, the state ― citing safety concerns ― had wanted the vessel out of the harbor since 2014.

I found this plaque on a page of pics taken when the ship looked a lot better, but the web site it’s on seems to have been restructured and I can’t find a way to get to the original page to credit it, just this page with the pics.

“The Falls of Clyde”

Falls of Clyde 1878 plaque

Falls of Clyde 1878 plaque


02/03/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Bet you didn’t see THAT coming – ANOTHER ferry challenge story

I don’t even think I’ll waste the skin on the tips of my fingers by tapping in some witty comments on my decades of watching every ferry tendering process bring some whining crybaby out of the woodwork to complain about THEY are singled out for being (insert your favourite discriminatory option here) picked on and excluded – in their opinion.

It’s like some sort of game these people play with the ferry tendering in Scotland, as far as I can see.

Legal challenge to Northern Isles ferry tendering process

The funniest thing about this one is that, if I remember correctly (and unless history has been rewritten), the lot that got this particular job last time out… came back after a while and said they wanted MORE money to run it.

I may be naïve, but doesn’t that just mean they were incompetent and underbid, or bid so low just get the contract that they forgot the idea was that they were supposed to run it using the money they were given at the start?

I can’t be bothered now, it’s just boring and silly, every, damned, time.

It’s like a club for moaners.

Northlink Magnus

Northlink Magnus

22/02/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | | Leave a comment

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