WORLD SHIP SOCIETY Firth of Forth

WORLD SHIP SOCIETY ~ Firth of Forth Branch WSS logo

Branch Secretary

W. Iain H. McGeachy

30 Clerwood Terrace

Edinburgh                

EH12 8PG

 

The Firth of Forth Branch of the World Ship Society, meet on the third MONDAY evening of each month, October to April inclusive at the Edinburgh Cine & Video Society, 23A Fettes Row, (off Dundas St.) Edinburgh EH3 6RH. at 7.30 p.m.

NOTE That we have no meetings currently and have switshed to holding meetings on zoom.  Please email for details.

If you have ever stood at Ocean Terminal watching the activity, photographed a ship, bought a shipping magazine then this is for you!   New members welcome –  so come along and enjoy a slide show or power-point and a mid interval cup of tea or coffee.

Contact: email: wssfirthofforth@virginmedia.com (see form at foot of page)

NEWSLETTER no 1 2021: https://www.mastermariners.uk/public/Firth_of_Forth_NEWSLETTER_2021_No_1.pdf

March 16th 2020     Meetings for the rest of 2020 cancelled – see notes below for ‘zoom meetings’

APRIL 2021

Our final meeting of the current session took place in April when
Ann Haynes gave us an excellent talk on her life as a Purserette
with Union Castle Line, sailing on their iconic lavender hull ships
from Southampton to South Africa. She was both entertaining and
informative, giving a personal insight into a way of life now gone.

March 2021

After a false start our March meeting saw Maurice Napier continue his ‘’Ex ….What was her name’?’ starting with SPARTA ex IRISH WILLOW (1956) and  ending with ZANNIS ex EMPIRE PATRIOT (1942) at Antwerp in 1967. He finished the section with NORTHERN ENDEAVOUR which went to the breakers appropriately enough with the removal of letters to become The End. With time to spare Maurice also went back to the start with the letter A moving from ABA PRINCE to AZURYTH. The meeting was attended by members from Dorset, Tyneside, Cobh and the Forth of Clyde Branches, while Firth of Forth members were also present at the Cobh presentation.

February 2021

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Ian Duff at the beginning of the month.  Ian was Branch secretary from 2007 to 2015 and when I joined my first impression was of somebody who was totally committed to the role with vast knowledge in general and especially of European Ferries, a particular interest.  His contacts were considerable and his evening briefings were always full of information.  These combined with his courteous manner and gentle humour meant his presence was sorely missed after his accident as he had not only been Secretary but a true friend to many members over the years. I can only quote from one of the emails I have received: ‘ … we all were touched by the kind, helpful person he was.’

On a personal note he made me very welcome and I was so pleased when he suggested I accompany him to external meetings with a view to sourcing out possible future speakers. He took on the role of mentor to ensure that all went smoothly in my first years.

Our own February zoom meeting was entitled ‘Ships of the Forth 2017’, an important year as  it included the exit of HMS Queen Elizabeth from Rosyth and the opening of the Queensferry Crossing.  We were joined by members of the Dorset Branch and appreciate their support after a ‘bumpy‘ start.  Members also joined the Dorset Branch’s own meeting and that of Cobn in Ireland. Their invitations were much appreciated.

January 2021

It was great that Maurice Napier was able to continue with ‘Ex….what was her name?’  starting appropriately with Papamaurice and finishing with Southern Surveyor. As mentioned previously one of the delights was to see well known ships, their conversions and what became of them. In this episode it included several Escort Carriers in their post war roles – HMS Attacker as the casino ship PHILIPPINE TOURIST and  HMS NAIRANA rebuilt as intended as a fast cargo-passenger ship for Port Line; and Scottish ferries such as Claymore as a cable-layer.  There was an insight into a ship’s progression from a new build for a reputable company, through resale until in one extreme case being lost in an insurance scam.  We were joined by some members from the Dorset Branch and the success of the evening may be summed up by an extract from an email I got from one of them: ‘Many thanks for your invite to join your Zoom meeting last night. … It was a nice change to see slides of real ships and hope that we can join you next month.’ Indeed we had a show which was a joy for ship lovers.

December 2020

The Branch held its third ‘zoom’ meeting where we enjoyed being able to catch up with members in these strange times. We were very grateful to Maurice Napier for continuing his series on ‘Ex … What was her name?’ A look at frequent visitors and British built or owned ships photographed from 1967 on in all corners of the world.  Starting with L’ASTROLABE ex- FORT RESOLUTION built by  Fergusons/Townsend Marine continuing through many well known vessels to Pacsai, ex-Tyne Fisher.  We delighted in seeing a wide range of ships dating from the COUNTY OF PEEBLES of 1875 to the 55 year old Marco Polo photographed leaving Rosyth.  Nostalgia reigned viewing what might be considered a golden age for ship enthusiasts.

Novemeber 2020

Alan Dowie gave us a fine presentation via ‘zoom’on the Associated British Ports TimberLINK service. He outlined the history and rationale, explaining the logic behind the granting of funding for the movement of up to 100,000 tonnes of round timber from Argyll to wood processing plants in Ayrshire.  A sea journey of 30 miles but one which could save up to 190 miles of timber traffic on the roads with a cost benefit analysis showing how the country gained in terms of traffic flow, infrastructure, not to mention air pollution. He went on to outline the ships involved over the years and the introduction of a mobile jetty.

October 2020

Firth of Forth Branch Notes for October The Branch held a ‘zoom’ meeting which included members and friends.  After an introduction by the secretary, Alan Dowie give us a roundup of current coaster movements in Leith. This was followed by a power point presentation by Iain McGeachy covering the major South African ports of Cape Town and Durban in January of this year. We ended with a look at the current state of the shipbuilding market in Durban.  In November Alan will give a presentation on the Associated British Ports TimberLINK service.

Recent evenings:

March 16th 2020     Meetings for the rest of 2020 cancelled 

2020 January / February

A change in programme saw us enjoying Albert Novelli’s Blue Funnel Line (part 1) slide-show, which was very well received.  It is always a joy to view classic vessels and those of the Blue Funnel Line must be the iconic examples with their large upright funnel and distinctive livery.  We moved from the early days, through the majestic Jason of 1902 to the short lived supertanker Troilus of 1974.  The show included war-time liberty ships and those of the fleet called up for service in numerous roles during that conflict.

Our February meeting was a video by John Ives of the 2004 Parade of Paddle Steamers of Lake Lucerne. We were entertained by the sight of all five steamers proudly showing their prowess as they did their annual circumnavigation of the lake, with their engines pounding away.

2019 December

It was a pleasure to welcome Maurice Napier back who give us an account of ‘Six Working Days’ when he was commissioned to examine three trawlers for purchase. His quest took him from Denmark to Iceland, onto South Korea and finally Japan. We enjoyed a vast range of shipping including a look at the Japanese 1902 pre-dreadnought Mikasa and the Japan Coastguard fleet, not to mention scenic shots ranging from the church at Hallgrimskirkja to Japanese fish markets and processions. Sadly our projector played up during the presentation but this did not prevent an excellent show nor our chairman’s traditional mincepies.

November

It was a pleasure to listen to Ian Quinn on ‘Sixty Years of the Paddle Preservation Society’, taking us from its formation to the present day. With his encyclopaedic knowledge and excellent photographs of the steamer scene from 1959 on, he outlined the final days of the paddle steamers around Britain, enhanced with details of captains, owners and routes, giving a vivid account of the passing of an era. Moving from chartering paddlers to the eventual ownership of the Waverley and the Kingswear Castle, outlining the early attempts at preservation, the success and failures of various ventures, he finished with the excellent new of the success of the Waverley boiler appeal.

October

October saw an excellent presentation by Billy Rough, Operations Manager of the HMS Unicorn Preservation Society. HMS Unicorn is one of the six oldest ships in the world and the oldest British-built ship still afloat. Launched in 1824 and not required for immediate service, her hull was roofed over and she was put into reserve. In 1873 she moved to Dundee as reserve training ship, acted as a headquarters ship during both World Wars and as a ‘Wren’ training ship during the latter. Still afloat in a tidal basin she has a combined role as museum and educational and events venue. Thanks to Billy for a fascinating talk and discussion.

July

The Branch’s Summer Lunch was held at the Three Bridges, South Queensferry, overlooking the Forth, at the end of June.   It was very well attended by both members and friends.  In particular we were pleased to welcome our former Secretary, Ian Duff and his wife, as well as members from the Firth of Clyde Branch. We recommence on Monday, 21st October, with Billy Rough from HMS Unicorn –  one of the world’s most historic ships, now preserved as a museum and visitor attraction in Dundee  – on ‘The Life and Times of HMS Unicorn’.

APRIL

It was a pleasure to welcome Alan Dowie back to give us ‘The VIC 32 – Cruising on a steam-fired puffer’.  He started with an outline of the history of the puffer from the Charlotte Dundas of 1812, through the 19th and 20th Centuries with particular reference to the WWII ‘VICs’ (Victualling Inshore Craft).  He then took us on two cruises, the first to the Southern Hebrides from Crinan and the second from Inverness through the Caledonian Canal to Fort William. Both were illustrated with fine photographs of the interior, the locks and places visited, all accompanied by a fund of stories.

MARCH

Our AGM in March saw the current Committee and Office Bearers re-elected and thanked for their work. A draft of next year’s programme was presented. There then followed a slide show by Ian Somerville entitled ‘Ferries to Ireland and the Isle of Man’. Most slides were from the 1970’s onwards concentrating on the Scottish links, by British Rail, through Sealink to the Stena fleets to Ireland and those of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company to Douglas. Apart from the Scottish ports and their destinations we saw others at a wide range of locations including Llandudno, Fleetwood and Portsmouth.

February

Our February meeting saw Iain McGeachy give an extensive power point presentation covering shipping in the ports in the Forth during 2013-16.  We saw a full range of vessels from cruise ships, (complete with a breakdown of locations), general cargo, bulk carriers, container ships, tankers ranging from the small product/gas ones to VLCCs, warships and many others. For offshore vessels and rigs there was also information on those laid up over the period and their eventual fates.  Included was a section on the vessels involved in the building of the Queensferry Crossing and photographs of key stages of the latter’s construction.

January

The New Year opened with an engrossing talk by Douglas Yuill on East Coast Steam Coasters, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of their demise.  His well researched talk, backed by contemporary photographs, showed the fleets of owners from Leith to Shetland.  The vessels, often bought second hand, carried coal south, returning with cement; north for bunkering the sizeable fishing fleets; and all manner of other goods.  What was of note was the longevity of many of the vessels shown – some reaching sixty years service. The end of steam came due to the rising cost of coal and the upkeep of an aging fleet.

2018

December

Our Members’ Night in December saw three fascinating short presentations.  Iain Quinn started with pre-war colour slides of Clyde steamers. Included were rare colour examples – the grey LNER livery of the late 30s and war losses.  In contrast Maurice Napier showed photographs taken this year from Singapore, Norway and the Danube.  We viewed a wide variety of vessels but also the 1872 river monitor SMS Leitha at Budapest.  Peter Gifford, took us from Skye across to the Outer Hebrides, back to the mainland and across to the Inner islands. The evening was complete with homemade mince pies from our Chairman.

November saw a well researched and illustrated talk by Paul Strathdee entitled ‘Fairfield Cargo Ships 1957-1999’.  A fascinating account moving from the  Ore-Oil carrier CUYAHOGA, through refrigerated cargo vessels for Blue Star, tankers for Irish Shipping and BP,  bulk carriers for Reardon Smith and fitting out basins showing ships three abreast. The yard became UCS,  Govan Shipbuilders and finally Kvaerner Govan, producing over forty standard ‘Kuwaiti’ and ‘Cardiff’ class cargo vessels. Paul gave full ship histories with a number still being in service. The numbers involved served as reminder of just how active merchant shipbuilding on the Clyde was right upto the end of the 1990’s.

October

Entitled ‘Don’t go to sea, be an accountant’ Ian Henderson vividly illustrated just how wrong that would have been.  Following in his father’s footsteps we saw him from age two upwards at the helm of a range of vessels from his father’s dinghy, through minesweepers, product tankers, VLCCs, to captain Irish Sea and Clyde ferries; piloting naval vessels on the Clyde, as Marine Rep, Towmaster and Warranty Surveyor for rig moves and other offshore work.  All illustrated with scenes from around the world – tropical beaches, golden sunsets, and bridges and foredecks disappearing under torrents of water.  Thank you for an excellent and most enjoyable evening.

February 2018

Entitled “The Lure of the Red Funnel” saw Robert Warnock tell of his first experiences of sailing first as a young child down the Clyde on the Queen Mary ll, followed by many holidays sailing to the Hebrides. With these, the lure was laid. Illustrated by many photographs covering the MacBrayne’s fleet from the pre war classics to the latest additions to the fleet we were enchanted by both the ships and scenery, enhanced with many panoramic shots of both taken at various ports. Supported by Iain Quinn we were entertained to many stories of these west Highland steamers.

January 2018

We welcomed Peter Gifford, Secretary of the Firth of Clyde Branch with an account of the trips made during the Coastal Cruising Association’s AGM in January 2015 at Southampton.  We sailed around the Solent and to Portsmouth, viewing both merchant and naval vessels. We saw  the vessels from the various ferry fleets which operate to the Isle of Wight and a wide range of car carriers (including details of the grounding of the Hoegh Osaka), containerships and the tankers at the Esso Fawley oil terminal.  Of interest was the Shieldhall, former River Clyde effluent carrier, the largest working steam ship in Northern Europe.

December 2018

Our December meeting took the form of a well researched digital presentation of photographs and video entitled ‘The Merchant Navy in WWII’ by David Fleming-Miller. These were enhanced by his circulated notes on Living Conditions; Captain Walker’s Second Support Group and on MAC ships. David was a Captain with the Palm Line and his account bore all wealth of knowledge and feeling, not only as a Merchant Mariner, but as one who knew from those involved what the merchant seamen endured during the conflict.  We also enjoyed traditional, excellent homemade mince pies from our Chairman, John Ives, at the break. 

NOVEMBER 2017

When one sees that Maurice Napier is the speaker one can be ensured of a fascinating talk combining interesting ships, excellent photography, and amusing anecdotes.  So it was with ‘Peru to Argentina’, our November talk.  It combined not just travels along the coast of South America, but trips to Machu Picchu, Easter Island, inland to Lake Titicaca, 3,812 metres above sea level, and a flight to Puerto Williams south of Tierra del Fuego, the most southerly town in the world.  Gaining entry to the three 19th Century vessels that form the breakwater at Punta Arenas, his interior photographs enhanced those of the already wide range of shipping.

OCTOBER 16th

There can be no better opening to a season than to have a talk by Ian Quinn on the Clyde. His theme  ‘In the Wake of the Queen Mary’ was a celebration of the Clyde’s last turbine excursion steamer and her return home.  Sailing from Bridge Wharf in the city centre she carried an average of 13,500 passengers a week, some half a million a year from 1933 to the late 50’s down river to Dunoon, Rothesay and the Kyles of Bute. She resumed these sailings after being reboilered and fitted with a single funnel in 1957 to become the last operational Clyde Steamer until her withdrawal in 1977.   We sailed past the hailing stations, made our way between all manner of river craft from chain dredgers, hopper barges, cross river ferries, and tugs out to the pilot cutters off Greenock.    Looking back, I for one, did not appreciate how transient the scene of Blue Funnel, Clan Line and other vessels moored end to end in George V, Rothesay docks and along the quays was.  His photographs encaptured the spirit of the period, not just the ships but the docks, cranes, shipyards and associated buildings all now vanished.  A thoroughly enjoyable evening enhanced by a knowledgeable and in depth commentary. 

2016 -2017

April 2017

It is always a pleasure to listen to a speaker who has both mastery and enthusiasm for his subject.  Such was our April talk when Colin Tucker gave us ‘’Steamers to Stornoway’ –  Shipping Services to Lewis from the 1820s to the present day”.  Colin gave us a full account of the development of steamer services to the Island, laced with many contemporary anecdotes gleaned from papers of the time.  One theme which has remained constant was the delight when a new steamer was announced only to be dashed over the following years.  Colin included the loss of HMY Iolaire on New Year 1919 with the loss of 200 men, one of the worst maritime disasters in UK waters.

March 2017 AGM

February 2017

It was a delight to welcome Tom Carreyette with ‘To Europe by Cargo Ship’,  an account of six trips taken between 1993–2003:

  • 1993 Grimsby – Esbjerg & Esbjerg – Grimsby by DANA MAXIMA
  • Grangemouth – Antwerp – Felixstowe – Grangemouth by PASSAT
  • 1997 Hull – Gdynia – Felixstowe by INOWRACŁAW
  • 2000 Greenock – Bilbao – Dublin – Liverpool – Greenock by CERVANTES
  • 2003 Lerwick – Frindsbury (River Medway) – Lowestoft – Port Ellen by SHETLAND TRADER
  • Hamburg – Hamina/Kotka (Finland) – Hamburg – Grangemouth by OOCL NARVA

His presentation differed from the norm, as travelling as a passenger on small cargo and feeder container ships, he gave us an ‘up close and personal’ view of their work.  We got excellent shots of the ships themselves, layout, crew and cargoes, giving a real insight to their world.  These along with well researched photographs of other vessels and views from the bridge of the seas, locks and landmarks of the harbours visited, resulted in a most excellent and much appreciated show.

January 2017  Due to illness our original talk was replaced with an annotated power point presentation from Iain McGeachy entitled ‘ROUND THE FORTH 2010– 2013’; moving from Leith, past Hound Point to Grangemouth, returning via Rosyth, Braefoot, to Burntisland.  We saw nearly 300 ships ranging from Cunard’s Queens to small expedition ships, 330,000 dwt VLCCs to small bunkering tankers, offshore vessels from the pipelayer Solitaire to SAR ships, ‘Leith-max’ bulk carriers to river cargo vessels, there were shots of HMS Queen Elizabeth modules arriving and some winter scenes including the tug Oxcar undertaking ice-breaking.  The chairman thanked Iain for a show which was very well received.

Our December meeting took the traditional format of Members’ photographs, with most excellent homemade mince pies from the Chairman, John Ives, at the break.  We started with photographs from Donald Macdonald of both shipping and steam engines including rail and Victorian tractors.  This was followed by Douglas Yuill with Scottish ferries starting in the Forth, moving north to focus on those serving to and in the Orkneys and Shetland.  Peter Gifford continued the ferry theme with shots of ferries from Ardrossan to Arran and Campbeltown and those of the Inner Hebrides.  Iain McGeachy presented shots from Aberdeen and the Tyne.

November saw an excellent presentation on Coastal Shipping by Alan Downie.  Alan’s enthusiasm as a keen observer of the coastal shipping scene in Scotland was evident as he took as through the recent history of coasters in Leith and the Firth of Forth before giving us an overview round Scotland. Concentrating on the present day, it was fascinating to learn not just of the ships and the shipping companies, but of their cargoes and patterns of trade, giving a real insight into the current position.  We finished with a brief look at the recent developments in the use of temporary piers.  

Our Season started, with a fascinating ‘RMS Queen Mary, an 80th Celebration’, presented by Paul Strathdee.  Paul’s research took us through planning, construction and eventual completion using John Brown’s meticulous photographic record.  His selection gave a real insight into working practices of the vast work force.  We followed her launch, entering service, into the war years, carrying up to 15,000 troops at a time, her return to peace time trade and final years including cruising.  We finished with comparative photographs of her interior now and as she was; plus an update on the original Queen Mary, now back on the Clyde.

Last yea’s Meetings

In December 2014 Robert Warnock gave a highly entertaining and eclectic presentation titled “Bucket, spade and coastal cruising” covering shipping taken on his honeymoon, and subsequent family holidays, embracing, the Clyde, Scottish West Coast, Isle of Man, Scarborough and excursions therefrom. Additionally Calmac, Llandudno, Heysham, Mersey, (river) Wear, and York vessels of yore were featured comprehensively, in great variety, with several transport shots for good measure. The presentation obviously found its mark as the craic was flowing throughout, no doubt influenced by John Ives’ brandy mince pies from the Galley. Many thanks to Robert and John. [Ian Duff]

Our first presentation of 2015 was from member, Dane Murdoch, with “Sydney International Fleet Review” which took place in September 2013. The first day detailed the arrival of the Tall Ships, which neatly coincided, plus a huge amount of shots of all types of smaller vessels plying the harbour. The second day Dane was up very early to take an array of photographs, mainly taken from a harbour ferry, of the arrival of all the various navies’ ships participating. The third day’s pictures provided the actual parade of naval vessels passing the reviewing vessel. Great show Dane, many thanks. [Ian Duff]

February: Iain McGeachy gave another excellent digital show – “Round the Forth – 2004 to 2010”, – to an attentive audience, 2004 being the year Iain went digital. There was a plethora of every type of vessel imaginable visiting the ports on both sides of the lower estuary from Leith, up to just beyond the road bridge at Rosyth/Crombie and back via Inverkeithing to Braefoot & Burntisland. In addition, while at South Queensferry, Iain illustrated a comprehensive and varied selection of passing vessels plying mainly continental feeder services to/from Grangemouth. A professionally illustrated presentation with comprehensively detailed vessel histories. [Ian Duff]

March was our AGM with Ian Duff standing down and being replaced as Secretary, by Iain McGeachy, with all other main office bearers unchanged. Members’ Night followed with Peter Gifford, Firth of Clyde secretary, presenting slides of his childhood trips to Tiree, followed by some of his late father’s slides from the 1960s of a variety of shipping in, and near, the then brand new Inchgreen drydock and adjacent repair facilities at Greenock/Port Glasgow. Douglas Yuill rounded the evening off with a history of shipping at Methil, Fife, in the early part of last century. Thanks to both speakers. {Ian Duff]

April: The evening commenced with a warm vote of thanks in appreciation of the work undertaken by Ian Duff our out-going Secretary.

We were then entertained by Colin Smith with a fine presentation of photographs of cruise ships, passenger ferries and tall ships:  an evening of great photographs taken in excellent conditions with even the Scottish island ones being described as having ‘Caribbean’ skies.  We moved from Scotland, to Canada, through the Mediterranean all in brilliant sunshine; journeyed on the QM2 and Boudicca.  Accompanied by a full and humorous commentary, it was an evening which was much enjoyed by all present. [Iain McGeachy]

Although the Branch does not meet over the summer months we had a successful presence at Bernard McCall’s Scottish Ship Show in June. .July saw us at the North Queensferry Hotel where a good turnout of members and friends enjoyed fellowship at our Summer Lunch, overlooking the Forth. We recommence for 2015 -16 on Monday,19th October.

FOR CURRENT SHIPPING NEWS see our facebook page:                              https://www.facebook.com/wssfirthofforth

World Ship Society Firth of Clyde 2015-2016 Programme

LUSITANIA CENTENARY CONFERENCE

USEFUL LINKS:

CRUISE SHIP VISITS

SHIP AIS: http://www.shipais.com/currentmap.php?map=Forth

http://www.marinetraffic.com/

WORLD SHIP SOCIETY: http://www.worldshipsociety.org/index2.html

Contact: email:

wssfirthofforth@virginmedia.com

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