Throughout the 1800s the Firth of Clyde was populated by steamers. These ships were praised for their speed and would sail as far as Largs, Campbeltown and Inverary, taking holidaymakers to resorts and providing a commuter service for those travelling from holiday homes. They provided an integrated transport system, allowing for fast connections with the new railheads along the coast. The ships were often run by railway companies themselves and the vessels remained especially popular for leisure journeys until the 1960s. However, there were also smaller steamers that ran ferry services along the river, such as Clutha No 10.
Clutha No 10 was a steel screw steamer built by the Murray Brothers of Dumbarton in 1891. Together with No 9, the steamer was certified to hold up to 360 passengers, making them the largest capacity ferries in the fleet. Here we can see No 10 coming into dock at one of the eleven stops that were located either side of the Clyde.
Although the Cluthas began as a service of only six vessels in 1884, they quickly grew to be a fleet of twelve passenger ferries operated by the Clyde Navigation Trust. They ran a round trip service of about three miles from Victoria Bridge to Whiteinch and passengers were charged one penny per journey. The ladies’ cabin was available for an extra penny, and there was also smoking room.The small passenger steamers remained popular for nearly two decades, but were deemed unnecessary with the introduction of the subway in 1896 and the trams in 1901. The service was discontinued in 1903 and little is known about what happened to the Cluthas after this. No 10 was purchased by the Admiralty and transferred to the River Medway.
Thanks to this site, which provided much of the information for this post. New steamer images have been added to our Dan McDonald collection on Flickr.
Olivia Howarth, archives trainee.