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Above: Caledonia on 5th August 1967. Photo by kind courtesy of David Perry
Caledonia on the Clyde in photos
Above : A magnificent study of Caledonia by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte
Click on links below for more photos
Caledonia in the mid
1950s by Jimmy Reid (courtesy of Ronnie McLeod)
Caledonia in a view taken by David Owler, by kind courtesy of Glenda Owler
packed Caledonia enables passengers to see the warships up-close off the Tail
o' the Bank during the Royal Naval Review of 1965
Seen off the Cowal coast from the deck of Waverley in 1968
Caledonia at Fairlie and Brodick in 1969
Caledonia as she appeared
in her final years. Photo taken at Rothesay by Alexander Bain and supplied by
kind courtesy of Donald Bain
Caledonia in a magnificent study by Kenny Whyte
Caledonia at Campbeltown in the late 1960s by Kenny Whyte
Not long to go ................... Caledonia on 3rd September
her final season, 1969, in a photo kindly supplied
by Nigel Lawrence
At the beginning of October, Caledonia made a few runs to Tarbet with the mails, a service which the CSP took over from MacBraynes on October 1st. These were the last runs she made for the CSP before being sold for scrapping - whilst local enthusiasts and, to be fair, her new owners deserately sought a buyer who would find a new use for the old ship.
Caledonia in London
Only the engines remain .......
Caledonia's engines were saved and exhibited at the Hollycombe Steam Collection at Liphook,
Photo by kind courtesy of Robert McLuckie
See more of Caledonia's engine
Caledonia was an impressively revolutionary-styled ship when new
PS Caledonia and her very near-sister
Mercury caused eyebrows to be raised when they appeared on the Clyde in 1934.
Perhaps it was a bit of a surprise that the Caledonian Steam Packet Company
(CSP), who had in recent years introduced a couple of highly successful turbine
steamers and had not had built a paddle steamer for 30 years, placed such vessels
on their upper-Clyde ferry services. The CSP had always been near the forefront
of technological innovation, but their choice of ship type was extremely conservative
bearing in mind that elsewhere in Europe, motor ships were now the vessels of
choice. The CSP clearly did not trust motor power for their purpose - and perhaps
they were right. Such ships were not tried and tested, although the David MacBrayne
in the western isles had already begun the experiment which was to totally change
their policy in that part of Scotland. Nevertheless, the CSP did order the most
up-to-date paddle steam engines available - triple-expansion, three crank machinery
which had hardly featured at all on the Clyde until their competitor the LNER
railway had them fitted to their new flier, Jeanie Deans of 1931.
Caledonia and Mercury's biggest immediate impact was, however, in their modern styling. Considerable time had elapsed since the last Clyde paddle steamers had been built and new styles of architectural design were in vogue. The streamlined fore-saloon on the promenade deck reflected the most up-to-date ideas, but the paddle boxes, enclosed in vent-less sponsons created the most surprise - and controversy. From a distance, at least in profile, the two new ships almost appeared as if they were screw ships. To cap it all, one large elliptical funnel gave a much more modern appearance than the tall thin funnels of earlier ships, including even the Jeanie Deans as first built.Were the CSP deliberately trying to hide the fact as well as possible that their new ships were in reality just old-fashioned ships in new clothes? Probably not, but irrespective of motives, the new paddlers brought a style - and quality of accommodation - to the fleet that far outstripped the older vessels. With spacious lounges on the promenade deck fore and aft, both with accessible observation decks above, each linked by alleyways above the open space on the promeade deck amidships she had considerably more space, both inside and out than her paddle predecessors.
With the notable exceptions of three large paddlers built to replace losses in World War II and the ultra-conservative choice to build the Maid of the Loch for Loch Lomond from 1953, the 1930s saw the last new paddle steamers built for the ferry and excursion trade in the U.K. Caledonia was the template for that very final phase of paddle steamer development and in design terms perhaps remained the most "modern" of them all. Unlike Mercury, which was lost during World War II less than seven years after her launch, Caledonia survived until the end of the 1969 season and saw further employment as a pub and restaurant ship moored in central London until so badly damaged by fire in 1980 that she was removed and scrapped. Her engines were recovered and are held in a museum collection.
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