Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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P S Waverley at Science Centre, Glasgow, Scotland.

This evening, I am providing information on an iconic paddle steamer, Waverley which is usually based at Glasgow in S.W.Scotland. This ship has a long history, viz:

  • Built 1946 by A&J Inglis at Glasgow.
  • Hull is 240 feet long, 58 feet wide and of traditional construction.
  • Originally certificated for 1350 passengers since reduced to 860 now.
  • Rebuilt in 2000 and 2003.
  • Engine is a 2100 h.p. diagonal triple expansion which normally operates at 44 rpm to give a 13 knot service speed.
  • Paddles are 17 feet across and each has floats of 11 feet by 3 feet.
  • The ship undergoes extensive maintenance during the winter period and during April undergoes a full hull survey, painting and repairs.

Clyde Cruising

Paddle steamers had carried commuters and tourists on the Firth of Clyde since Victorian times. By 1900 there were over 50 such Clyde Steamers operating. The Waverley was the only paddle steamer built after WW2. However, demand for cruising declined in tandem with increasing car use and changes of holiday habits.

The Waverley sails on the Clyde during June, July and August calling at sixteen ports.She also visits:

  • Scottish Western Isles.
  • Liverpool and Llandudno
  • Bristol Channel
  • English South Coast.
  • London and Thames.

Tourism revenue generated by the Waverley is estimated to reach GBP7.3M each year.

P S Waverley at Erskine on River Clyde.

Waverley at winter mooring, Glasgow.

This evening, I am reporting on a piece of Scotland’s social history as manifested in a recently erected statue in Govan, part of Glasgow.
The statue was erected to commemorate Mary Barbour, a leading radical female social pioneer of the early 20th century who was an inspirational campaigner, activist and local government representative.
Mary was a key figure in the 1915 Rent Strikes, which exposed and protested against landlords who took advantage of the wartime economy to increase rents for workers, evicting those who could not pay. This was a time when Britain was engaged in the WW1 conflict and women were not granted limited voting rights until late 1918. At the time Govan was at the heart of Britain’s  commercial and military shipbuilding industry.
Mary’s campaign proved successful in forcing a change in legislation governing rented accommodation, which was the main source of housing for working people at the time.
Mary continued to campaign vigorously to improve housing and social conditions for working people. She was elected as one of the first woman councillors for Glasgow in 1920, and appointed the first woman Baillie (civic officer) of the City of Glasgow in 1924. 

The statue was unveiled to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Mary Barbour Statue at Govan Cross

Ailsa Craig, Firth of Clyde, Scotland.

This evening, I am focusing on Ailsa Craig, an ancient volcanic plug which sits in the Firth of Clyde (S.W.Scotland) about nine miles west of the town of Girvan on the Ayrshire coast.

Ailsa Craig viewed from Ayrshire Coast

The name Ailsa Craig translates from Gaelic into English as ‘Fairy Rock’.

More information:

  • Uninhabited and covers an area of two hundred and twenty acres, is two miles circumference and one hundred and ten feet high.
  • Formed from the plug of a Paleogene volcano, between 66 million and  23 million years ago.
  • Now effectively a bird sanctuary and home to colonies of gannets and puffins.
  • Historically, the island is best known as a source material for curling stones. There are reports that Ailsa Craig’s very smooth blue hone granite is used in 70 pct. of the world’s curling stones.
  • Kays of Mauchline have the sole lease to remove the only known source of the following three  granites: Ailsa Craig Common Green Granite, Ailsa Craig Blue Hone Granite and Ailsa Craig Red Hone Granite in the world. Extraction of between 1600 tons of Ailsa Craig Common Green granite and 400 tons of Ailsa Craig Blue Hone granite is an operation that takes place as required.The granite is transported to the mainland by boat to be stored and subsequently transformed into finished curling stones.

Curling on Lake of Menteith, Scotland

  • A mecca for bird watchers and naturalists. There are boat trips from Girvan. The paddle steamer, Waverley sometimes includes Ailsa Craig in its itinerary.
  • A good subject for photographers who can capture the island in the ever-changing light conditions. Sometimes the island disappears completely when shrouded in mist. Joke: ‘If you can see Ailsa Craig it’s going to rain, if you can’t see Ailsa Craig it is raining!’.

Ailsa Craig viewed from Isle of Arran