Replica Paddle Steamer - Comet

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In 2009 the Ballast Trust was approached by the Inverclyde Community Development Trust, who were involved, along with Ferguson Shipbuilders, in the refurbishment of the Replica paddle steamer “COMET”. They were seeking information about the building of the replica in 1962.

A few variations of the replica’s history had been gathered in from people in Inverclyde District who had been involved, in some capacity or knew someone who had been involved, in the project some forty seven years before. Fortunately, the Ballast Trust has a set of Lithgow Journals and Kincaid’s Works Magazines, these companies being the leading local firms involved in building the replica, which was duly recorded in these publications. We also had copies of some of the plans for the vessel and various other items, so were able to provide accurate information. This process was aided and abetted by the fact that one of the Trust’s employees was a young draughtsman in Kincaid’s drawing office at the time the replica’s engine and boiler were designed there. He was also the firm’s Drawing Office Administrator at the time the company withdrew from engine building and was instrumental in the safe handing over of the original plans for the replica’s machinery to the Ballast Trust for depositing in a leading West of Scotland archive. He had already deposited copies of these plans with the leading U.K. archive for such material.

Unfortunately, when the Inverclyde Community Development Trust sought copies of the Kincaid plans, to aid in the refurbishment, neither archive could find them! However, all was not lost. Mr Andrew Mumford, was Kincaid’s Chief Draughtsman in 1962 and the man responsible for the initial inspection of the original Comet’s engine at the Science Museum in South Kensington and its subsequent survey along with Mr Alex Day, the leader of the Boiler Section of the Drawing Office. Mr Mumford kept the office copies of the plans relating to the Comet exercise, as a memento and these were subsequently deposited with the McLean Museum in Greenock by his son, also Andrew.

These dyeline prints were temporarily taken in by the Trust, where a number of faint prints were carefully enhanced, prior to them all being electronically scanned and put on disk. At the same time the Trust added some prints from its own collection which were not included in the material held by the Museum and listed the entire collection on the Archivist’s Toolkit system, adding the listing to the disk. The material has now been returned to the Museum, suitably rolled and protected to the latest archive standards and copies of the disk supplied to the development Trust and the two major archives that cannot find their originals.

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