Lanarkshire Philatelic Society




Mr. Alan Rushworth



The subject of Friday evening (29th Sept) at the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society was "Steamers" – and what an amazing display of these was presented by Alan Rushworth.


The display began from the launch of Henry Bell’s "Comet" in August 1812 – sailing from Glasgow to Bowling and Greenock. This was the first commercial Clyde Steamer. This inspired competition and over the next few years steamers began sailing to Largs, Rothesay, Inveraray, Campbeltown, Loch Goil and Loch Eck. They became a great tourism attraction. And the shipyards knew great business also!


Members were informed that in its heyday the River Clyde had some 200 shipyards working on its banks. Business was booming for many!


On display was a wonderful array of postcards illustrating the many different ships which plied these routes – and details of the shipyards they were built in; their size and weight; their launch date were given.  Other postcards gave details of the different funnel designs and colours – and also many postcards illustrating the many piers used in the tourist trips. Maps showing details of the routes were presented – and notice of the departure arrangements were required from the Broomielaw in Glasgow – so many steamers were in action!


Then on to David MacBrayne!  In 1879 the Company gained a contract from the Post Office to operate a Postal Service on the Clyde - between Glasgow and Ardrishaig - in time also giving freight and passenger service to the Highlands and Islands – Glasgow and Highland Royal Mail Steamers. This included the Mail run to Islay, Harris, Uist, Skye.


From all this new tourist routes opened up and once more a truly amazing number of postcards were viewed reflecting all this – showing the ships going through the locks on the Crinan Canal en route to Oban – and also negotiating the locks of Neptune’s Staircase at Fort William en route to Inverness. There were Illustrations of the ships taking tourists to Iona and Staffa.  Some very interesting postcards showed the charabancs travelled on the route to Inverarary - originally opened by David Napier – going from Glasgow by ship to Kilmun, then charabanc along the shore of Loch Eck to Inveraray – also on the route via Lochgoilhead to St Catherine’s and ship across Loch Fyne.


In all, this was a wonderful view of "Clyde Steamers" postcards and in giving thanks, Ed Archer remarked on the fact that these gave a tremendous service to the Highland and Island communities. It was a most informative and entertaining display. It also invoked many memories of sails "Doon the Watter"!


Our next meeting in the Caledonian Bowling Club, Motherwell Road, Hamilton, is on Friday, 13th October, 2023, at 1:30pm (please note change of time) when members look forward to welcoming visitors from Ayrshire Philatelic Society.


Anyone with an interest in stamps, postal history, postcards etc is very welcome to attend.