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Firth of Clyde, UK
The Campbells of Kilmun - Keith & Campbell - Captain Bob Campbell
Brothers Alexander and John Campbell from Rosneath on the Gareloch became steamship captains in thre 1830s and it is understood that both became part shareholdrs in the vessels they mastered. In 1854, the brothers became majority shareholders in PS Duchess of Argyle, assigning the captaincy to their nephew Robert Campbell. originally on the Gareloch trade, the focus of operations was switched to the Holy Loch and Robert moved his home from Rhu on the Gareloch to Kilmun.

Captain Bob Campbell succeeded his uncles Alexander and John and developed a loyal following for his services to Kilmun and the Holy Loch. From 1871 to 1884, this was in a loose business partnership with Glasgow coal merchants Hugh Keith & Co, who were already operating PS Lady Brisbane on excursion services. This gave Bob Campbell the financial backing to develop his business, vessels running in parallel to that of Keith & Co, on different routes and with different funnel colours, but some interchange of vessels.

The partnership dissolved as its assets were sold to Captain Buchanan to ward off bankruptcy. Campbell immediately ordered one new steamer and purchased another "off the stocks" of a local shipbuilder, causing much disgust to Captain Buchanan who had understood that he had also bought the goodwill of the business. Campbell was, however, extremely popular with the travelling public and, with new steamers, was able to recover much of the Holy Loch trade.

His death in 1888 combined with the entry of the Caledonian Railway into steamboat operation led captain Bob's two sons, Peter and Alec to sell the business to the newly-established Caledonian Steam Packet Co and take Waverley to the Bristol Channel where P&A Campbell were to establish a new operation known as the White Funnel Fleet which would dominate services in those waters for 90 years.

Alexander and John Campbell
Duchess of Argyle

Hugh Keith & Co
Lady Brisbane (renamed Balmoral when taken into Keith & Campbell fleet)

Keith & Campbell Steamers
Vivid, Vesta, and Ardencaple were in the Campbell fleet and
(ex-Lady Brisbane) in the Keith fleet at the time of establishment of Keith & Campbell.

New purchases from 1871

(purchased from Graham Brymner)

Captain Bob Campbell
PS Meg Merrilies
PS Waverley
PS Madge Wildfire

The Campbells of Kilmun
By Iain Hope
Published in 1981 by Aggregate Publications, Johnstone, Scotland
History of the Campbell steamers in the Bristol Channel with early chapters devoted to the Clyde operation.

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