A ro-ro for Mamacormier

Recently Mamacormier (http://mamacormier.wordpress.com) responded to a comment I had written about the ferry she takes to her holiday cabin and the problems of backing onto it. I said we had ferries similar, but larger, on a service across the Clyde estuary. Unlike her ferry, those on the Clyde are ro-ro ferries – ro-ro being the abbreviation for roll-on roll-off. In other words they have a ramp at both bow and stern that attaches to a linkspan, so you drive on at one end and off the other without any need for backing.

Clyde car ferry

One of the ferries operated by Western Ferries (Clyde) Ltd between Gourock and Hunter’s Quay.

This is a larger ferry than the one Mamacormier uses, but in the early years of the service the boats were much smaller, and have grown as traffic has increased.

We used this ferry service regularly when we stayed, for a number of years, on the Cowal Peninsula on Scotland’s west coast. This was an area developed by Victorian merchants, made wealthy by coal and iron, shipbuilding and locomotive building, trade and manufacturing. In search of fresh air, away from the noxious smoke and grime of the rapidly developing city, and to indulge their passion for sailing, the merchants sought areas outwith the city yet within easy travelling distance.

Catching the breeze

Sailing is till enjoyed in the Clyde estuary.

Cowal was one of the areas around the Clyde where they alighted to transform small Highland villages into smart Victorian seaside towns. New railways and steam ships made travel easy and fast, and for the summer months whole households, including servants and coachmen, decamped to the seaside. Many of the Victorian houses have coach houses with accommodation above for the coachman. Horses may well have been transported by the steamships, many modern vessels to the islands still have facilities for transporting livestock, but the coaches are said to have been floated across estuary and loch on flat barges. That must have been quite a sight.

Yacht sailing in Loch Fyne

Sailing in Loch Fyne

Husbands would come and go as work dictated leaving wives and families to enjoy the beach, paddle, play games such as croquet on the lawn, visit other families, draw or paint and become involved with organisations that did good deeds. The men rode, sailed, played golf and, come the invention of the motor car, took their families for drives by sea and lochs, through glens and mountain passes.

One of the few remaining Victorian piers in the Clyde

Blairmore Pier in Loch Long

With changes in methods of transportation, and routes rationalised, most of the once numerous piers fell into disuse and decayed. For a short time I was involved with the restoration of one of these piers, opened in 1855 and in regular use until 1973, it is now fully restored and is one of the piers called at by PS Waverley, the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world.

Paddling along on the Waverley

The Waverley – the last remaining seagoing paddle steamer in the world


About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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13 Responses to A ro-ro for Mamacormier

  1. mamacormier says:

    Thank you Dorothy, for the mention and the explanation. The ro-ro sounds like it would be perfect for our island and loading times would probably be cut in half.

  2. thaygoulart says:

    When I lived in amazon, we had to use one of these ferries to cross a river. The ferry was so old, so slow… I think that is the reason why they traumatized me! 😀

  3. carolee1945 says:

    I really enjoyed both the history lesson and the great photographs. I have had very little experience with ferries, and you brought them to life.

    • In Scotland ferries are a daily or at least very regular way of life for many people, especially those on the west coast or northern isles. Lovely if the weather is good…but can occasionally be quite hair-raising.

  4. Great pictures of the ships 🙂 I didn`t know that there is a paddle steamer still around.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Klausbernd 🙂

  5. This is probably the kind of weather I was made for. Just look at the colors of the water against the skies. Yes, I’m inspired, saw this wonderful exhibition Colour the other day and how to look for and get inspired by it.

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