A Survey of Vessels in the Collection of the Scottish Maritime Museum
Kyles is a rare survivor, a representative of Clyde shipbuilding dating from the 1870s - a period
of expansion both the shipbuilding on the west coast of Scotland and for Glasgow as a whole.
Kyles was launched on Tuesday 12th March 1872 at the Merksworth yard of John Fullarton &
Co of Paisley. Her engines were supplied and fitted by Wm. King & Co of the Dock Engine
Works, Glasgow. Her first register entry in Lloyds lists her as a 90A1 flush deck lighter with
an iron hull and a pitch pine deck. She was fitted with a single pitch pine mast and derrick and
carried a single suit of sails.
She was registered in Glasgow and her first owner was one Stuart Manford of 24 Oswald Street
in the city. Kyles was a basic cargo coaster, typical of the many built by the smaller yards on
the Clyde. Manford worked her as a tender for the firth of Clyde fishing fleet. The fishing fleet
tenders collected the catch from the fishing boats and transported the fish to railheads on the
coast allowing the fleet itself to remain profitably at the fishing grounds.
In 1881 Manford sold Kyles to William Vietch, a chemical manufacturer resident in Creiff in
Perthshire. Only a few years later he sold her on to another owner in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Records show that Kyles was bought and sold several times over the next fifteen years,
although her port of registry remained Glasgow. It was not until 1900 that this was altered and
she was registered at Hull.
Kyles seemed destined to be moved rapidly from owner to owner, for only a year later she was
purchased by a grocer and corn dealer from Pontypridd in Wales, who was the first in a
succession of owners in the South Wales area. From 1919 to 1921 she was working in the East
Kent and Thames waters, before once again being bought by a Welsh owner - this time a
Cardiff tug master. During all these years she had been used for the purpose she had been built
for and carried heavy and general cargoes on short coastal voyages. The first major change in
Kyles‟s structure was made in 1921 when she was converted to work as a sand dredger in the
Bristol Channel, lifting sand and gravel for the building industries. The sand dredging fleet
contained many such conversions of small, often Clyde built, coasters.
By the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 Kyles seems to have been taken out of
service and de-registered. She was surveyed in 1942 while laid up on the Glamorganshire
canal, and was found to be in poor condition. She was acquired by a salvage contractor and
sold on to Ivor P Langford, a ship owner and ship repairer based at Sharpness near Gloucester.
Langford bought her in 1944 and had her repaired and structurally altered, removing the
dredging equipment to return her to a modernised cargo form. The alterations were substantial
and included enlarging the forecastle and poop and adding improved and expanded crew
quarters. Kyles was reregistered at Gloucester.
Langfords fleet was made up of second hand barges and small coasters which he used for a
variety of trades. Members of the Langford family recollect that he had a particular affection
for Kyles. She was the only vessel in his fleet that he did not rename, possibly because he
respected the fact that she had managed to keep her original name for such a long time.
Langford worked Kyles as a steamer in the Bristol Channel for a number of years, then in 1953
had her converted from steam to a diesel engine. In 1960 she converted structurally once again
to function as a sludge tanker for dumping industrial waste in the Bristol Channel. Eventually
she was downgraded even from this lowly work and became a storage hulk for the waste, which
was taken out for dumping by another, more modern, tanker.
The Langford family had by this time retained a long association with Kyles and were keen to
ensure that a vessel to such age and varied history should be preserved. There were moves to
establish a maritime museum at Gloucester but in the meantime the Langfords accepted an
offer from Captain Peter M Herbert of Bude, who had himself a long career in the coasting
trade. Kyles became a celebrated vessel in the Bude area.
During the early 1980s the West of Scotland Boat Museum Association, precursor of the
Scottish Maritime Museum, was established and came to the notice of Peter Herbert, who
offered to sell Kyles to the group. On the 8th of November 1984 the Scottish Maritime
Museum became the 24th registered owner of the vessel and Kyles was reregistered in
Glasgow, 112 years after her first appearance in the records.
In 1996 funding for a full restoration of the vessel became available. It was decided to
recognise Kyles‟ long and varied career in the restoration and that the most suitable appearance
to restore her to was to take her back to her 1953 refit when she was changed from steam to
diesel power. Work began in 1997 to strip out the sludge tanks, reinstate the original hatch and
hatch cover and replicate the mast and derrick. Her wheelhouse had been removed in the 1970s
and this was replicated from old photographs of the vessel. Work was completed in 1999 and
after sea trials Kyles made a well publicised arrival back to her birthplace on the river Clyde
where she forms part of the displays at Clydebuilt, the Scottish Maritime Museum at Braehead.
Dimensions: Length of deck 83ft, breadth 18ft and draught 8ft 1in
Construction: Iron and steel hull. Steel deck. Much of hull is 1872 iron in original condition,
most of upper works date from major restorations in 1945 and 1998.
Vessel is operational.
Included in “Designated List” of National Register of Historic Ships.
Vagrant was built in 1884 to an early design by William Fife III (who was ultimately to be
known as the patriarch of British yacht design) by the Marquis of Ailsa‟s Culzean Ship &
Boatbuilding Company at Maidens in Ayrshire. The 1880s and 1890s were a time of great
changes in yacht design and Vagrant is one of the last surviving examples of the earlier
methods of “plank on edge” of cutters.
She was designed for an Irish owner, Thomas Trocke, who was already the owner of a Fife
designed and built yacht called “Rival”. Trocke wanted to compete in racing a new class of
vessel becoming popular in Dublin Bay - small 18‟ waterline cutters with gaff rigs. His order
was executed in fairly basic materials - pitch pine below the waterline with yellow pine above
all fastened with Muntz metal spikes, and an inexpensive cast iron keel. Trocke found success
with his new vessel - winning £12 in prize money in 1884 and almost £20 in 1885. The
popularity of the class was short lived, however, and by 1888 she was no longer being raced
competitively. Vagrant was sold on to a variety of other owners, but soon after the First World
War Jack McGuinness, who had lost a leg on the western front, bought her. McGuinness
maintained the boat for almost fifty years on his veterans pension. After his death in 1970
Vagrant was laid up for a number of years until acquired by Hal Sisk, who undertook a major
restoration between 1979 and 1982. Vagrant was acquired by the Scottish Maritime Museum
in 1984 and soon became a popular exhibit, especially when display sailing in the harbour. In
2002/2003 Vagrant is undergoing a refit to prepare her for the 2003 Fife Regatta at Fairlie,
Dimensions: 22ft length, 5ft breadth, 4ft5ins draught.
Construction: Carvel Construction, Oak Framed, Planked in Pitch Pine below waterline.
Planked above the waterline in Yellow Pine. Planks fastened to oak frames by clenched Muntz
(a copper and zinc alloy) spikes. Deck presently Iroko. External Iron Keel fitted rather than a
more sophisticated expensive lead casting. Mast is of Douglas Fir.
Carola was built in 1898 at Scott & Sons Shipbuilding and Engineering Co at Bowling on the
river Clyde. She was built as a yacht for the personal use of the Scott family and for the closing
years of the nineteenth century and up until the 1920s she carried the Scott family on holiday
trips, including their yearly summer visit to Colintraive on the Kyles of Bute. She also took
groups of senior yard staff and foreman on cruises on the Clyde and in the winter months
undertook less glamorous duties and a tender and yard tug.
She was built of steel and was of all riveted construction and was fitted out with saloon, owners
cabin, aft cabin and a tiny galley as part of a deckhouse. Her decks and superstructure are all of
teak, and there are stories, probably of the “legendary” type, that Carola‟s deckhouse was built
using recycled railway carriage windows and doors.
During the Second World War she was fitted with fire fighting apparatus and a steam driven
fire pump and remained on standby in the yard. After the war was over she declined into a
semi-derelict state and was purchased by Mr Manning of Glasgow in 1964 for £600. The
Mannings kept the boat at Garelochhead and on the river Leven and maintained the boat until
1970, when an owner in the south of England acquired her.
Carola was purchased by a marine company called Plysolene as an advertising and corporate
vessel in 1981 and underwent a major refit which included renovation of all public areas,
installation of a galley in what had been a little used owners cabin, along with major repairs to
She now has a large saloon or fore cabin with a teak skylight and teak saloon table. Her
moulded oak panelling and brass gimballed light fittings are original, as are the bunks/seats on
either side of the cabin, though the buttoned maroon velvet cushions are replicas of the original
fittings. Abaft the saloon there is now a galley, with a “heads” on the other side of the
companionway, which is also a restored, original fitting. The companionway leads to the
deckhouse which has a chart table, some storage and seating.
The aft cabin is fitted out with four bunks and has a WC/shower.
The engine was carefully restored and remains in close to original condition, while the present
boiler dates from 1952. An auxiliary diesel engine was fitted in 1981, together with diesel
powered bow thrusters for manoeuvrability.
Carola was acquired by the Scottish Maritime Museum in 1987.
Dimensions: Length 70ft 5ins, breadth 13ft, draught 7ft5ins.
Construction: steel construction, teak decking & deckhouse. The vessel now has two masts,
both gaff-rigged, sails furled and they are raked in line with the funnel. Both funnel and hull
repainted in their original colours of cream and black respectively. Her fore deck is still in
original condition and the gunmetal propeller has a diameter of 4‟2”. The cable steering works,
the original steering gear, and wheel are all original.
Engine is the original two cylinder compound steam engine by Ross & Duncan (Govan,
Boiler is by Marshall & Anderson (Motherwell), and dates from 1952. She also has a 50hp
Thornycroft Diesel Aux Engine and is fitted with bow thrusters.
SY Carola is included in the “Designated List” of National Historic Ships Committee.
THE PUFFER SPARTAN
The “Puffer” was an form of small coastal trading lighter which developed from the sail
gabbart into a small (usually around 66 feet long to give access to both the Forth and Clyde and
Crinan canals), flat bottomed (so the vessel could beach itself at remote coastal locations
lacking proper piers) vessels which gained their distinctive name from the manner in which
their original single expansion steam engines vented exhaust to the atmosphere with a “puff” at
each stroke. Puffers were the ubiquitous inshore craft for transporting grain, coal, slate, gravel
and whisky from the west coast highland and island ports, as well as general building and trade
cargoes, and were a well loved element of island life even before they were celebrated in Neil
Munro‟s tales of the “Vital Spark”, Para Handy and his crew.
The puffer “Spartan” was built in 1942 by J Hay & Sons of Kirkintilloch for war service as VIC
(Victualling Inshore Craft) 18. The admiralty had looked at various vessel types before
deciding that the “puffer” suited their purposed best, and after drawing up plans based of the
Hay vessels “Anzac” and “Lascar” nearly one hundred of these little craft were built at yards
around the country, though only one, VIC18 was completed in Scotland.
After war service the VIC fleet was sold off and Hay‟s (who also ran a puffer fleet) bought back
VIC18 and registered her as “Spartan” on the 24th September 1946. Spartan was the third
vessel of the Hays fleet to hold that name and continued their tradition of naming vessels after
peoples or tribes - other vessels owned by them carried the names Saxon, Celt, Briton, Trojan,
Slav etc. Spartan was soon employed in carrying coal and general cargoes around the Firth of
Clyde and as far as Mull, Iona and Islay.
In 1959 the continuing decline of the coasting trade encouraged Hays to convert their fleet to
diesel power for efficiency and Spartan was fitted with a Scania diesel engine in 1961. She
continued to work for Hays, and their successors Glenlight Shipping Company until 1980,
when she was laid up at Bowling. In 1982 she was acquired by the enthusiast group the West of
Scotland Boat Museum Association and became the focus of the nascent Scottish Maritime
Museum, set up in Irvine in 1983. An ever-popular exhibit she has taken part in classic ship
gatherings and appeared in the 1990s series of the “Para Handy” tales as the “Golden Star”.
Dimensions: Length 66ft 9ins, breadth 18ft5ins, depth 9ft6ins.
Construction: Welded steel hull and deck, part pitch pine deck. Most of the hull is original.
Her steam engine was replaced by Scania diesel in 1970s, cabin fittings in 1950‟s.
She is included in the “Designated List” of the National Historic Ships Committee.
DRAMA ON THE HIGH SEAS
Spartan: a proposal for a theatre, exhibition and education Puffer
Spartan, owned by the Scottish Maritime Museum is the only surviving Scottish-built puffer
and the last surviving vessel to have been built in Kirkintilloch. It is proposed that she should
be equipped as a floating performance and exhibition facility able to operate around the
Scottish coast, including the islands, and on Scotland's navigable rivers and canals. She will
provide both on-board and on-shore facilities to locations where such provision would not
otherwise be possible.
The great joy of these proposals is that they will enable the museum to return this most well
loved of all Scottish vessels to her traditional role of serving the coastal communities of
Scotland. Further, it will ensure her long-term preservation as both a working vessel and a
cultural object in her own right. She will give a service both to local people and to the tourist
industry by providing a unique and flexible venue. She will be a potential platform for all art
Convert the former cargo hold into a flexible space, which can host music, story telling,
drama, film, video, mask and puppet performances, as well as providing a stimulating
venue for meetings, exhibitions and a range of educational activities.
For larger scale performances to on-shore audiences construct a demountable stage that
can be erected on deck.
Devise and construct an awning that can be hung between the mast and deckhouse to
provide shelter for the stage and a backdrop for scenery.
Provide a tented structure that can be used to provide cover on-shore for exhibitions and
an audience of 100-120 people.
Provide generators, batteries, lighting, sound, and audio-visual systems.
Make the vessel accessible to the public, including, those with disabilities.
Comply with marine and land-based health and safety requirements.
Maintain the historic integrity of the vessel.
The vessel will operate during two distinct periods over the year. Over the winter
period she will be moored on the pontoon at Braehead shopping centre. During the
period April to October she will visit coastal, river and canal-side locations in other
areas of Scotland.
In addition to presenting professional performances Spartan will be available as a
platform for informal performances by amateur and student performers, who could be
presented under the banner of “Puffer Buskers”.
When not in use for performance the vessel will provide a flexible and atmospheric
space that can be used for various artistic, commercial and community purposes.
Local organisations and communities will be encouraged to develop their own uses for
Built in 1956 by George Brown & Co (Marine) Ltd, Greenock. Bought as a harbour tug by ICI
(Nobel Explosives) for use in Irvine Harbour and at their Ardeer site. Garnock was the last
operational tug to be used in Irvine harbour, but was badly damaged when she was carrying out
one of her other duties - dumping explosives in the Firth of Clyde in 1984. Part of her
explosive load caught and detonated under her rudder after dumping, severely damaging her aft
end and propeller. ICI decided that the vessel was beyond economic repair and after essential
work she was donated to the Scottish Maritime Museum where she now forms a static, floating
Dimensions: 78ft 5ins length, breadth 21ft 11ins, draught 8ft 2ins.
Construction: Steel, part welded and part riveted. Her hull and fittings are mainly original
but in fair to poor condition. She has her original Lister Blackstone Engine.
Originally a Blackwater Sloop built in 1962 by Dan, Webb and Freesey of Maldon, Essex.
These small yachts were common day sailing vessels, but this example was but developed into
an experimental turbine vessel by Strathclyde University in 1970s. The mast was removed and
a fifteen foot wind rotor erected on a stand amidships. This powered a small propeller unit,
enabling Falcon to sail in any direction - even directly into the prevailing wind. The yacht also
has an auxiliary Stewart Tuner Engine.
Dimensions: Length 18ft overall, breadth 6ft5ins.
Construction: Carvel built, mahogany planking on oak frames.
Air Sea Rescue “10” (ASR 10) was built in 1942 by Carrier Engineering Ltd as an
experimental rescue vessel. She is of all welded steel construction, with a steel superstructure
and mast. Her hull is brightly painted in red and yellow bands (yellow is the colour most easily
seen at sea).
ASR 10 was never fitted with an engine - her function was to be moored as a dumb barge at
strategic intervals around the coast (in particular under the flight path of aircraft returning from
the continent) during the second world war, to provide emergency shelter for the crews of
downed 'planes. She is designed to be easy to board and is fitted with six bunks, emergency
rations and signalling apparatus to attract attention.
These "floats" were built for the RAF and maintained by the Air Sea Rescue Service. They
were not found to be particularly useful - they could only be moored close to shore in positions
where an aircraft in trouble could usually be spotted anyway. Few airmen were rescued from
the floats - but one did provide shelter for the survivors of a German aircraft shot down over the
ASR 10 has been restored to original condition after conversion to yacht in 1950s.
Dimensions: Length 30ft6ins, breadth 9ft6ins.
Construction: All steel welded construction. No engines or rigging.
MFV Antares is an example of a very common type of motor fishing vessel built for Scottish
waters built by many smaller shipbuilder in the 1960s. J & G Forbes of Sandhaven in
Aberdeenshire built her in 1965. She is a trawler - a type of fishing boat that seeks bottom
living fish like cod and ling using a trawl net.
Antares is of carvel construction with larch planks on oak frames. She has a steel wheelhouse
and an aluminium "whaleback" fo'c'sle. She is powered by a Caterpillar 3006 diesel engine.
Antares was involved in a fatal accident in 1990 when HMS Trenchant, a naval submarine on
exercises in the area, snagged her nets. Antares sank and her crew were drowned. The vessel
was raised as evidence for the official enquiry into the accident and after their investigations
she was restored as a static exhibit at the Scottish Maritime Museum.
Dimensions: 57 ft length overall, 18ft 6in breadth, draught 7ft 6in.
The motor launch "Seamew" was used by the yacht building firm William Fife & Sons for
water transport within their Fairlie yard, and by their successors the Fairlie Yacht Slip
Company. A shipyard launch was used to carry passengers and fit out materials to moored
vessels and for general carrying work around the yard.
She was built c 1904/08 and while no builder is recorded there is evidence - particularly the
physical evidence of her masterful construction and fine detailing - that she was built by the
famous yacht builders for their own use.
She is a clinker built vessel with mahogany planking on elm frames. Originally powered by
oars, she is now fitted with a Thornycroft DB/2 petrol paraffin "Handy Billy" engine dating
from around 1939. She is still in full operating condition.
Dimensions: 25ft length overall, 5ft 3ins breadth.
RNLB JANE ANNE
RNLB Jane Anne was built in 1898 by the Thames Ironworks Co of Millwall in London, an
established builder of lifeboats. She cost the RNLI £680, and was sent to the lifeboat station at
Irvine which had been operating since 1834, and remained as the lifeboat there until 1914 when
the station was closed down. During her service at Irvine she took part in seven rescues, saving
12 lives. In 1922 she was moved to Falmouth, now rather an old fashioned vessel, but she
served there for another 14 years before being taken out of service in 1928.
Along with many similar vessels being replaced with motorised lifeboats in the 1920s, Jane
Anne was sold to a private owner and was converted into a yacht. This was a frequent form of
retirement for lifeboats, as with minimal alterations they could be converted into yachts. Jane
Anne was lost to official records until the 1980s when the RNLI were informed that she was
laid up in a wood near Taunton.
Jane Anne is a double ended, self righting sail and pull lifeboat, 37 feet long with a 9 foot 3 inch
beam. She is constructed of mahogany double diagonal planking on English oak and Canadian
elm frames. There is a large air box at each end with a pair of Samson posts incorporated into
the stern box framework. Nothing is left of any masts or rigging. The centreboard is still in
place and the centreboard covers are extant, although removed from their fixings. Holes in the
rails suggest that she was fitted out for use by eight oarsmen
Built in 1962 by J & J White of Cowes, Watson Type Motor Lifeboat. Last vessel of type ex
Longhope, Orkney. The TGB can hold the weight of up to 95 people. It was stationed at
Longhope, Hoy in Orkney. In March 1969, the TGB went out to rescue a Liberian vessel called
the „Irene‟ - she capsized and all eight crew members were lost, three of which were from one
The TGB was not self-righting, after the „Longhope Disaster‟, all lifeboats were fitted with
self-righting systems and crew had to be from separate families.
TGB was refurbished and relocated to Aranmore, County Donegal, Eire. It retired from
Aranmore in 1979.
Dimensions: Length 47ft, breadth 13ft, draught 4ft6ins.
Miniature Zulu skiff built 1938/9 by J & G Forbes of Sandhaven as a “long liner” (fishing
boat). Operated around the west coast of Scotland as a fishing vessel until 1940 when she was
requisitioned by the Admiralty and used as a supply boat for the rest of the war. It returned to
use as a fishing vessel in 1946 and remained as such until 1958 when the Fairlie Yacht Slip
Company converted her to a yacht.
She is a clinker built vessel, but has lost her original fishing features (fo‟c‟sle, fish hold, deck).
Dimensions: Length 24ft, breadth 7ft.