This really is a splendid book, with 29 pages of tables giving details of no less than 309 steamers which plied the River Clyde between the years mentioned. More details and illustrations of many of them are given in the text as are portraits of many steamer captains.
It would have been difficult to find a more qualified author than Captain James Williamson, appointed Secretary and Manager of the Caledonian steam Packet Company, when it was formed in 1889. The son of Capt. Alex Williamson snr., James had two brothers, Alexander jnr. Manager of the Glasgow and South Western Railway Clyde fleet and John, who was manager and part owner of the pioneer turbine passenger steamer King Edward VII. He was also a member of the consortium who, at considerable personal financial risk, funded the construction and trials of the vessel. This was a possibly unique event, for the consortium brought together in common cause, three railway companies, the Caledonian, North British and GSWR, who in normal circumstances could be relied upon to fight like cats in a sack.
The book has chapters on boilers engines and other equipment and gives a pretty good narrative of the development of steam propulsion in a wider context. One cannot but be impressed by the wealth of information and photographs which it contains. It is a monumental work for a single individual to have produced, pre word processor, pre digital, pre internet. One wonders how James found time to manage the Caledonian Steam Packet Company in addition!
This is a wonderful book which, as far as I am aware, has never been surpassed in terms of the quantity of information supplied for this period in the history of navigation on the Clyde.
PREVIEW BELOW – MAY TAKE A WHILE TO LOAD.