Friday photo - Scottish Maid

4:29 PM

Today's photo is one which caused me some confusion this week! I'm the Project Scotland volunteer who's been scanning old photos of paddlesteamers. Usually, after scanning a photograph, I look up the ship in one or two places, such as the Clydebuilt database, and find a little information to put on our flickr. Not this one, however.

It looked to me like a very early paddle steamer, and I was quite put out at not being able to find anything. At first I thought the name written beside it was wrong - the second word didn't look like Maid to me - but my eyes deceived me, and Scottish Maid was indeed the name. Staff member Duncan took a look as well, and he recognised that the photograph was taken from Gourock Pier, with Kilcreggan in the background.

Unfortunately for my searching, Scottish Maid is also the name of the first clipper ship, and she dominated the initial search results.

One item caught my eye, though: a genealogy forum. The original post was from an Australian, looking for information on his great-great-grandfather from Port Glasgow, who was lost at sea. Further down the page was a paragraph from the Glasgow Herald about that very man's death in 1863 after falling from "the Tug-Steamer Scottish Maid" in Port Glasgow harbour. Port Glasgow is not very far from Gourock - surely it was the same boat?

Searching for "Scottish Maid tug" brought me immediately to Tyne Tugs which lists four tugs under the name; but only one of them was registered at Port Glasgow.

So, this is - most likely - the wooden tugboat Scottish Maid, built by J Dowey of North Shields, in 1846. She was registered at Port Glasgow in 1853, and stayed on the Clyde until she was broken up in 1873.

Update: New information has come my way, that another of those four tugs was based at Greenock from 1877 to 1892. This was the Scottish Maid built in Gateshead in 1856.

Simply thinking about the development of photography, it's probably more likely to be the later boat; we may never know for sure...

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  1. Looks like it's not a work day, is that a yacht race in the background?
    And is that the Scottish Maid herself sat at the stearn of the tug?