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Side-Wheeled Paddle Steamers
1862, the company was established to provide steamer connections from
Wemyss Bay for the Greenock and Wemyss Bay Railway Company which was
about to open services to the coastal village. An order was placed
for three vessels in anticipation of the railway opening, one of
which was sold off the stocks at Caird's yard for blockade running in
the American Civil War. The first vessel, PS Largs was launched in
September of 1864, followed by the larger PS Kyles in the following
month. The railway opened in May 1865 and the vessels which had been
run from Glasgow as an interim measure, sailed to Wemyss Bay from
Lamlash and Tighnabruaich to meet the morning commuter service to
Glasgow. Daytime services included Rothesay / Kyles and Millport /
Largs connections from the railhead.
PS Victory was bought from Captain Duncan Stewart and the replacement
for the steamer sold to America, PS Bute, arrived from her builders
shortly afterwards. Surprisingly, the new tonnage was placed on
direct runs to Glasgow whilst connections at Wemyss Bay suffered from
poor timekeeping. Under great criticism the company withdrew the
direct services to improve the railway connections, but the opening
season had been chaotic.
PS Kyles and PS Bute were sold to River Thames owners, the latter
sinking 13 years later in the worst coastal pleasure steamer disaster
in British history. The almost-new PS Argyle was bought from Duncan
Stewart to restore a three-vessel service as originally planned and
serving less ambitious destinations.
Despite the changes, the company went into liquidation in early 1869.
Largs, Victory and Argyle were bought by James Gillies &
Alexander Campbell, owners of PS Venus, and were used in connection
with the Wemyss Bay railway until the coming of the Caledonian Steam