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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

MOD may now build Royal Navy ships overseas

Shipbuilding and Politics such unlikely and poor partners as ever, unless there is a war looming of course.

And so it begins with this latest story from the Scotsman newspaper, everyone knows that they can be got cheaper by buying overseas, just ask the Australian Navy (but don't mention the problems and cost over runs) they could even just buy a finished hull and tow  it to a U.K. yard for outfitting and weapons platform fitting but at what cost to this Island Nation which was built on ships and shipbuilding.
For more on this stupid story read here

 It is also not new as they (MOD) have already gone to South Korea for the build of three fleet tankers for the RFA as there is no longer the capacity or expertise to build vessels such as this any more in the U.K. (There words not mine)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

850,000 Poppy's each one a life lost

We should never forget

Each ceramic poppy represents a life lost in World War I

We should be able to learn from History


Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Arctic Convoys to Russia


The Arctic Convoys


As we approach the annual remembrance day ceremonies Worldwide (November 11th) It is poignant at this time that some of the brave or should I say very brave sailors who were allocated to run the gauntlet of voyages from the U.K. to the Northern ports of Russia during the Second World War are at long last to receive some recognition some 70 years after they faced some of the harshest conditions of anyone who spent there wartime experiences at sea.


Dozens of veterans who braved freezing conditions to maintain a lifeline between the Soviet Union and the west during the Second World War will finally be honoured at a medal-giving ceremony today.

The Arctic convoys boasted crews of British and other allied navies who sailed vital supplies to soldiers battling against Hitler in the Eastern Front.

Fleets of merchant vessels were flanked by Royal Navy warships and dozens were lost as they were attacked from the air and sea.

The are to be honoured by the Russians at a ceremony which will see so few of the brave still left.

For more on the story from the local Edinburgh Evening News

Friday, 31 October 2014

Leith Ship & The Pirates

The Ex Wilson Line Leith Built MV SORRENTO as Al Marjan receiving assistance from the U.S. Navy in this old released photograph taken from USS Whidbey Island

The ex MV SORRENTO was to go on and have many different names over her life span of 43 years as a useful working vessel, same ship with a different name traded around some of the many smaller and somewhat less reputable shipping lines, she was sold on by the Gracechurch line to be re-named as Waybridge in 1983 next in line was the name of Five Stars three years later in 1986 only to change her name again six years on from being called Five Stars she then took on the name Sea Princes in 1992 to trade under this name before yet another name change this time in 1997 to be named as the MV ALBATROS, before she was to take her last and final known name of AL MARJAN in the year 2000.
As the Al Marjan she would end up captured by Somalia Pirates in 2007, read more about the amazing ships history at the Leith Shipyards website


Thursday, 30 October 2014

MV ARGOS Shipwreck

The MV ARGOS was Ship No 216 from the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd, and we have just been sent some more information and photographs about her and her eventual fate in Argentina.

This was another one of the special ships built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd, she was of a design that the shipyard was becoming very adept at and for work on the Tidal Rivers of South America.
The MV ARGOS was destined for work on the famous River Plate in Argentina. Her owners were Compagnia Argentina de Lanches, Buenos Aires, which was the South American branch of The Forestal Land, Timber & Railways Company of London.

The wreck of the MV ARGOS

You can read a whole lot more about this shipwreck at the Leith Shipyards website


Monday, 20 October 2014

Robb Caledon Shipyards

The ex Duchray Ship No 517 built at the Leith Shipyards of Robb Caledon now re-named as Eide Rex

Good to see she is still working away in gainful employment as seen in the photographs from the shipspotting website it is just a pity that they cannot get it correct where she was actually built, perhaps due to the confusion of when Henry Robb Ltd amalgamated with the Caledon shipyard of Dundee in 1968 to be called Robb Caledon Ltd, the dominant partner is shown in the name and for the avoidance of any doubt she and some 500 other ships were built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd, later to be called Robb Caledon Ltd then to revert back to the name of Henry Robb Ltd when the Caledon Shipyard was closed in 1981 by British Shipbuilders Ltd as the Privatised enterprise was called at that time.
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The long pedigree of some of the shipyards in Scotland can understandably get a little bit confusing especially to non shipbuilders but that is not to say that this site is not worth a visit as it really is a great website for all interested in ships and the sea they just need to get some of the facts corrected as to where the actual ship was built, otherwise some people may get the impression that the yard at Dundee built twice as many ships as they actually did which would of course clearly be incorrect.
© frode adolfsen

Best in Britain

Someone sent me this link to an article in today's Edinburgh Evening News and I just could not resist the temptation to have a wee playful dig at the rest of Britain.

Edinburgh Castle

This of course is not news if you are from this area of the country!
The best looking and best evolved people in Britain live in Edinburgh, Leith and the south-east of Scotland. Outrageous! How can you possibly say that! Biased? Not at all. Just a statement of fact – and a story that goes back 10,000 years.

Cash Back Coupon!

Don’t believe me then read on in this article from the Edinburgh Evening News.

One of the most striking inherited traits is massively present in Edinburgh and the south-east where a staggering 57 per cent of all people have blue eyes. That is the highest in Britain where the average is 48 per cent.

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But here is the other side of the coin so to speak!

The same might be true for the other dominant trait in Edinburgh and the south-east. Red hair. Nobody needs a DNA test to tell if they have red hair, just a mirror. But what is hidden is what causes children to inherit the glorious spectrum of tints from strawberry blonde to deep auburn. And that is the recessive gene variant, what both parents must carry if they are to have children with red hair.
In Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Borders, 40 per cent of all people carry it. It is the highest proportion in Britain, which itself has the highest number of carriers in the world per capita.

New York hotel deals Perhaps migration provides an answer. The Northern Isles, the Hebrides and the Atlantic 
coastlands saw significant Viking incursions and settlement after circa 800AD, and in the south-east of Britain, the Anglo-Saxons settled in numbers after circa 400AD. These in-migrations may have significantly diluted the red-hair variants present in the indigenous populations before those dates. And if that’s correct, then one of the most persistent bits of folk DNA about Vikings being redheaded will turn out to be wrong. And it may be significant that south-east Scotland appears to have had little Viking in-migration with comparatively few Norse place names and comparatively little ancestral DNA from Scandinavia.

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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Maritime Library

Download an eBook today
Got to thinking the other day that if you are at all interested in ships and the sea then you will also be interested in books all about ships and the sea, but where to put all them books is the big problem.
Well in our efforts to move with the times it just makes sense to also have access to books in Electronic form and you can just download them to your computer or E-Reader or whatever medium is used for reading them.
Then you are only limited by time and the storage capacity on your machine.
So we have set up some E-Book library that you can access and for convenience they are all in the one place, eventually we shall have different categories for all the subjects covering written works about ships and the sea and to begin with you can now go directly to our first library called funny enough Ships and the Sea.
Each downloaded book will return a small portion back to us to help with the running costs of this Blog and also the main website at

You will be able to find all kinds of books on ships and the sea some well known and some not so well known it is all about choice and we hope to give you that choice, if you still prefer hard copy books you can of course search through our Amazon store at the side of this Blog.

You can now access books such as the story of the amazing ship built in Dundee called the LAWHILL which had a longevity of working at sea for a very long time, which for a Barque complete with sails in a world full of steam and then later diesel powered vessels is all the more remarkable.

The Lawhill Story The Lawhill Story
During the long gone ages of maritime history many ships of sail and steam have captured the imagination; one of them was a sailing vessel named Lawhill, a four masted barque which after being built at Dundee in 1892 lasted right up until 1957.

For the full selection of our E-Book library collection just click on the link Ships and the Sea

Friday, 10 October 2014

New Naval order for Clyde Shipbuilding

So we have some more good news on the shipbuilding front in Scotland at long last the steel is now being cut for the Royal Navy's new offshore patrol vessels, no mere small type of ships but the very latest in new technology at around 2,000 grt's they are not small ships and will be capable of deployment worldwide.
They should keep some of the workforce (the little that is left) working at the upper Clyde shipyard of Scotstoun working at least until the designs are finalised for the Royal Navy's new type 26 Frigates which will be built at the same yard. This may or may not be such good news for the shipyard on the other side of the river at Govan only time will tell, as they continue with work on the second of the Aircraft Carriers being assembled in Scotland.
Be sure to visit the new Shipbuilding Library to find all your shipbuilding books now in a convenient form for you to download direct to your reader.

Work has started on a £348m contract for three Royal Navy warships at BAE Systems' yards at Scotstoun and Govan on the River Clyde in Glasgow.

The offshore patrol vessels will be known as HMS Forth, HMS Medway and HMS Trent. The first will be ready by 2017.

See more at the BBC website

For all your boat plans all in one place choose from hundreds of plans and go ahead and build your own boat or even a model boat if you wish When you click on the link above you will be helping to keep the Blog and the website at going as a small fee will go towards the upkeep of both site Thank you for your help and support

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Old Firm - New Order

Ferguson shipyard secures ferry contract


Some good shipbuilding news to report at last from the recently purchased Ferguson Yard on the lower Clyde in Scotland, news that will keep Scotland’s last commercial shipyard going and with the promise of even more orders things are beginning to look up for the small band of Shipbuilders left on the Lower Clyde.

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The Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow has won its first ferry building contract since being rescued from closure.

Clyde Blowers Capital - owned by the billionaire Jim McColl - bought the yard earlier this month after it went into administration.

It has now secured a £12m contract from the Scottish government to build a third hybrid ferry for CalMac.

More details of the deal will be released later this week.

The yard has previously built two other hybrid ferries - the MV Hallaig and MV Lochinvar - for CalMac.

The new vessel, which will be able to accommodate 150 passengers and 23 cars or two HGVs, is expected to be launched in the spring of 2016, before entering service in the autumn of the same year.

It will use a low carbon hybrid system that combines traditional diesel power with electric battery power and will lead to a reduction in fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

For more on the story see the BBC news website


Sunday, 7 September 2014

(SOE) Search Engine Optimisation and Google, how to reach first page on Google

Part Two

A whole lot of the ships built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd in Scotland were classed as Motor Vessel’s (MV) so once again a search using the name of one of the many New Zealand ships built such as the MV KARITANE will result in the ships pages being at the very Top of the First Page in Google, something that all them experts computer and internet geeks would give there right arm for can just be done by using that old Shipbuilders gift called “Common Sense”
This of course cannot be taught today and is something lacking badly in this world of ours today as most common sense seems to have been eradicated by Governments or worse still computers.


Others such as the Manchester Ship Canal Tugs can be found the same way just type in MSC followed by the ships name and you will find for example doing a search on the Tug MSC FIREFLY will result in the ship being at the Top in the First page of Google search.

The MSC FIREFLY underway on the Manchester Canal

So if you want to know more about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

The “Common Sense” approach to reaching number one in the internet search rankings then just contact through the main website and I will be able to send you some more information.

Expedia's Top Deals

For ADVERTISERS this of course represents a wonderful opportunity to get your related product onto the top of the Google search engines.

Potential advertisers can again contact us through the main website at 

Shipwreck, Scuba Diving and Fossil e-Books

We hope all this Blurb will help if you happen to be searching for information on any Ships and the History that is associated with the Ship through the maze that is now the internet.
I also like to add that the World still revolved and worked pretty well in the days before the Internet which I happen to think is also an amazing fact.

Leith Shipyards & SOE

Download Standards
Part One


I thought I would write something down on the Blog about the main website at as this continues to grow to be one of the best maritime websites around.

A lot of work has gone into the website and it is now featuring on first pages of Google on many of the ships and topics which is fantastic.

Now I started to think about how the pages had reached such a high ranking on Google and have reached the conclusion that all you really need is good content and time, the content has to be informative and helpful, sick of being bombarded by hundreds of emails etc all telling me that this crowd or that crowd can get my website to the top on Google, what a crock.

I don’t really no much about how the search engines work or about Search Engine Optimisation (SOE) and as all those so called experts keep telling me you need to know and pay for the expertise of these computer geeks to get to the top in Google.

I have been doing some work on the website and just by filling in the description properly (something I never knew about before) and adding the all important Key words, after all even I can understand that if the website cannot be found by anyone around the world then it is not much use no matter how good the site may be.

I started out by searching for the names of the ships built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb and to my surprise (as long as the ship’s name is typed in correct) the vast majority of the ships information pages is right there at the very top of the Google search pages and some of them number in the millions.


I also found that it is important to phrase the ships name correctly so that for instance a Steam Ship will begin with the letters SS followed by the ships name, a Motor Vessel will by logic begin with the letters MV followed by the ships name and of course a Royal Navy (or any other navy) will begin with the abbreviations for that Navy’s full name such as HMS for any Royal Navy Ship.


So as a simple example let’s take the “Flower Class” Corvette HMS PINK type it into Google search and you will see that the page shows up Third on the list of the First Page on Google.


The Flower Class Corvettes of which HMS PINK was just one of many also involved in the D-Day landings where she was to meet her eventual fate.

Try another such as SS SOUTH STEYNE and again you will see that the pages are at number 4 on Google’s first page. Competing along with hundreds of thousands of other references on the internet to this famous old Ship still to be found in Sydney Harbour, Australia and now operating as a Restaurant.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Ferguson shipyard saved from closure! Yahoo?

“Yahoo” (not the internet thingy) but the original word (remember)  would be the first reaction of the saving of the last commercial shipyard in Scotland, but this is shipbuilding and where there is shipbuilding in Scotland Politics is intertwined and while it must be welcomed no matter as it should mean jobs are saved and indeed the new owners are promising even more jobs?
Politics is never far from shipbuilding and we can only hope that this is not some political stunt by the new owners intricately involved in the present political referendum in Scotland.

After all who in there right mind would trust a politician, I well remember my dealings with them way back in the 1980’s when trying as we all were to keep shipyards in the East of Scotland open, I could not possibly reveal what theses people got up to suffice to say I resolved there and then to have nothing to do with politics ever again, and I don’t speak from some high horse just amazment at these people and what they do and get up to in the grand name of representing there constituents but what I hear you say they can’t all be the same, I refuse to answer that question and leave it to you to answer you don’t have to really think very hard now do you.

All out of the same mould and funny that as well as the successful businessman taking over the Ferguson shipyard owns Clyde Glass Blowers so he knows all about moulds.

For more on the story you can have a look at one of the Scottish newspapers and see what they are saying.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Ferguson No More

Last remaining commercial shipyard in Scotland Closed


A sad day in the history of a great industry as the last remaining commercial shipbuilder on the river Clyde closed down, not only the last commercial yard on the Clyde to close after some 110 years of building fine ships but the last commercial shipyard in Scotland is now closed for business.

The two upper Clyde yards are of course still going building parts for the Aircraft Carriers and other warships and long may they continue, but the closure of Ferguson Shipbuilders Limited of Port Glasgow really brings down the curtain on a very long list of great shipbuilding names which have plied there trade and used there unmatched skills to build ships in Scotland.

Better times at the yard from 2012 in this Herald newspaper picture, when they launched the Worlds first hybrid Ferry

Ferguson Shipbuilders Limited from a BBC website photograph Aug 15th 2014

It really is quite a list of shipbuilding names when you consider that this great and proud industry used to employ more than 100,000 people in its heyday, and that is only in Scotland, the industry was massive throughout the British Isles at one time when Britain and the Clyde primarily led the world in the building of fine ships.
Such as and by no means a comprehensive list and not in any kind of order, but names like Scott Lithgow, Barclay Curle, Scotts of Bowling, John Browns, Connell’s, Hall Russell, Caledon Shipbuilding, Ailsa Troon, Henry Robb Shipbuilders, Harland and Wolfe, and now add Ferguson Shipbuilders to the list of a role call of industry whose spectacular fall has had no equals in the United Kingdom.
This small yard could have been building small inshore fishery protection vessels and small patrol ships for the Royal Navy but once again they have been discarded by governments (successive) and after all it was less than 100 men and women who lost there jobs this morning so who gives a toss about this small number of highly skilled people. (Not many votes there in the grand scheme of things eh!)
Don’t see that it would even register with Salmond or Cameron although we are sure to see and hear some posturing about it, and the timing of such a closure with a Scottish Referendum on Independence just one month away, what were the politicians thinking about.
For another read on the closure of Ferguson Shipbuilders and perhaps a better reality than the wishy washy BBC news see the latest from the Herald newspaper who are closer to home in writing about the effects of the last commercial shipyard in Scotland closing down, interesting to hear all the rubbish spouted by the different politicians, who in fact rank lower in the list of non producing wage thief's than even the journalists, bankers and lawyers in the U.K. even lower than a second hand car salesman. 
Although it also shows just how impotent the Unions have become in Britain as well.

How long before we say “Shipbuilding No More” in the whole of the British Isles.

what where

job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Scotland “YES” or “NO”

While the debate goes on whether Scotland should return to being a separate country as she was a few hundred years ago before union with England happened and the United Kingdom was formed or to stay as a part of the United Kingdom (Great Britain in other words)

This Blog is not really the place for too much comment on the subject but you can never separate Shipbuilding from Politics and they are all at it right now, as can be seen from this recent article in the Scotsman newspaper while written with some obvious bias and who in the United Kingdom would trust a journalist today, they are regarded with the same mis-trust as lawyers and bankers and rightly so.
Having had some small parts to play regarding politicians and Shipbuilding in the past, it is my own opinion that they are at the lowest of the tree when it comes to trust and it makes no difference be they Scottish politicians or United Kingdom politicians or indeed English politicians they are all out of the same mould.

BEA Shipyard at Govan on the Clyde in this Royal Navy photograph

The only thing I can comment on is, would a vote one way or the other mean securing any more or less shipbuilding jobs and I feel that it would make no difference whatsoever what way the vote goes the politicians will do as they see fit (They are qualified you know)

And the people will get what the people want?


what where

job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Thames Tug GENERAL IV

GENERAL IV Ship No 222 built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd and launched in 1936


Last heard/seen at Bowling Harbour half sunk just a hull sitting in water now wasting away a bit similar to the state of the SCOT II BEFORE SHE WAS MOVED TO THE Caledonian Canal  (Whatever happened to the rescue attempts to restore the SCOT II)
 On Tugboats

Seems like the same story with the old GENERAL IV very similar lines to the SCOT II as well and looks like there is no one around to attempt a restoration project on this fine old Steam Tug.
You will see a photograph of her here from early this year.
Do not know how she has ended up here but there was another far more recent tug that also sank at Bowling Harbour


We cannot save then all, but still a shame to see such fine plate work rusting away.

what where

job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

Friday, 8 August 2014

The Irish Lights Ship ALBATROSS

Earn More in One Day Than a Professional Athlete.
Looks like she was or still is up for sale, although she may even have been scraped by the time of writing.
The LS ALBATROSS sits at a quayside somewhere in Kent her fate at this time unknown
Photo credit from shipspotters website and if the owner contacts us we shall credit the photograph

Takes a real will and very deep pockets to take on a large project such as converting or even partially restoring such a large ship

Check out this link to see the ship in better times when she was used to train Irish Sea Cadets


Thursday, 7 August 2014



The Shipwrights


It is clear for anyone who knows the Shipwrights Build Ships, they always have done and I don’t care what names they give the trades today it is Shipwrights who build ships.

Yes the Platers have had a large part to play in the process of shipbuilding for the past 100 years or so but the Shipwrights have been around since before recorded time so I thought it well past time to give the Shipwrights of Leith there own page on the website at Leith Shipyards.

For the record while I am at it and controversial it may well be but “Welders” do not build ships they are a relative newcomer to the shipbuilding process and although some are very highly skilled in the trade they are no matter how you look at it in the end just a “Service Trade” only been around for the past 60 years or so in the shipbuilding process, most yards still stuck to tradition and riveted there ships up into the 1960’s as the welded ship had a slight stigma attached deserved or otherwise, the riveted ship had the seams that cannot be replicated today with most welded ships ending up looking like half starved carcasses of a dead horse ribs, depending on how the light hits the shell.

So once more for the sake of clarity the Shipwrights build Ships, Platers mark and shape Plates and all the rest are service trades.

Leith Shipwrights


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Shipbuilding Jobs

For anyone who is looking for work in shipbuilding then find your job below and good luck

Jobs from Indeed

Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Leith Shipyards at the beginning of World War One

As Europe descended into death and destruction once more 100 years ago this month

We take a very quick snapshot back in time when there were three main shipyards all situated next to each other facing into what is now known as the western harbour at Leith Docks.

From West to East we had the smallest of the three shipyards namely the yard of

J. Cran & Co was engaged in the building primarily of Steam Fishing Trawlers and Tugs and they were about to launch the Steam Fishing Trawler ANWORTH while building was going on of a Tug called the VIGOREAUX


The next shipyard in line was the shipyard of Hawthorns & Co who had taken over the old shipyard of S & H Morton two years before.

Hawthorns had a couple of small Cargo Vessels on the stocks at the outbreak of WWI

The shipyard had an order book of Steam Fishing Trawlers to be built as well.


While last but by no means least the Leith Shipyard of Ramage & Ferguson Ltd Shipbuilders had just launched three large steam passenger/cargo ships with the last one launched in the December of 1914 was named as  CHAKDINA the second ship of an order by the BI Line and a ship that would survive WWI only to be involved in tragedy during the Second World War when sinking during an attack in the Mediterranean while full of wounded New Zealand and Allied Soldiers who had been fighting in the fearsome battle for Tobruk.


The shipyards would soon be involved in the repair of many battle scarred vessels from fighting around the British Isles and further a-field if the ship could be brought into Leith at all they could repair her.

Interestingly enough no warships were built at the Leith Shipyards during World War One although many Landing Craft were, unlike the part played by the Leith Shipyard of Henry Robb (the shipyard that over time took over the three shipyards mentioned)

during the Second World War.


The 4th of August 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the day Britain entered one of the costliest conflicts in history – the First World War – with fighting continuing until the 11th of November 1918, Armistice Day.

The Royal British Legion was founded by British veterans in the aftermath of the First World War and is at the forefront of Centenary commemorations. As we come together in Remembrance of events a century ago, we are reminded of the important welfare work the Legion continues to provide today and will need to provide in the future.

For more on the commemorations of this terrible conflict please visit the British Legion website above.

The Centenary of the First World War

The 4th of August 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the day Britain entered one of the costliest conflicts in its history, the First World War, which ended on Armistice Day, 11th November 1918.

Almost everyone in the UK has an ancestor directly affected by the First World War. The losses were felt across every UK town and village as the lives of nearly one million lives men and women were sacrificed in service of the British Empire.

The Royal British Legion will be joining in the commemoration of all those who served and sacrificed from British, Dominion and Imperial forces from countries including the UK, Republic of Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa.

Remember to buy a Poppy.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Sign of the Times?

Download an eBook today
Well the time has finally come when I need to set some adverts onto this Blog and in time you will also see them appear on my website as well.

It is an expensive business the upkeep of the website and up to now all the cost has been carried by me.

So perhaps with some little advertising revenue coming in it may help offset some of the cost of keeping the website up to date and enable me to keep it going as there is so much more to go onto the website.

Up to now partly due to time constraints I have only put some small pieces onto the Leith Shipyards website about the 4 previous Shipyards that eventually morphed into the shipyard known as the Henry Robb yard.

So please help to support the website by clicking through on any of the advert that you may find of interest as any little helps.

There are also many more job adverts on the Blog and will be on the website and if we can help to even get one person a job then wouldn’t that be a fine thing.

Your support and interest during this journey is much appreciated.
A scene from a once busy Leith Shipyard around the mid 1970's
and the Hibs also had a pretty good team in them days as well 7-0 springs to mind.

The new maritime E-library is now open at Ships and the Sea


Friday, 25 July 2014


HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH was floated out from her building dock last week and pleased to say she floats.

While the dock was flooded she was carefully monitored by the guy’s from the “Dim Squad” (Dimensional Control) although just what this fine body of men were going to do if she began to heel over is left to the imagination, I just cannot see them being able to run around placing side shores to prop her up.

Not quite as spectacular as a traditional slipway launch but an important event in the life of the ship all the same, she will now be berthed at the quayside in the large basin at Rosyth Dockyard and all her outfitting will continue for another two or three years before she begins commissioning trials so more work for the men for some time to come, which is all good news as far as the workers are concerned.

The second ship of the class HMS PRINCE OF WALES is due to begin assembly in the same dry dock in a couple of months.

The new Aircraft Carrier HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH floats out from her assembly dock at Rosyth
It would be interesting to know how level in the water she sits just to know if her ballast calculations were correct as she was floated out, this was always a very nervous time for a shipyard and the Naval Architects responsible for the ships calculations at the time of launch, more importantly if she was being launched down a slipway than a simple float out a real squeaky bum time to put things mildly.
Queen Victoria Cruise Liner (The Loftsmans collection)

Just for a size comparison the new Aircraft Carrier QUEEN ELIZABETH is slightly longer than the Cunard Cruise ship QUEEN VICTORIA shown above during a visit to the Firth of Forth


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

As Time Goes by: the Changing Face of Leith’s Shoreline

We feature another article from our guest feature writer Jenni Buxton and while we agree with a lot of what she writes we don't necessarily endorse or agree with all of it.
All things must pass after all be it for the better or the worse, change has to happen.

Old Leith from the website

As Time Goes by: the Changing Face of Leith’s Shoreline
Although the shipbuilding traditions of Leith Docks generally resides in the shadow of the traditions of the Clyde, the East Coast shipyard has just as proud a history that is as much a backdrop to north Edinburgh’s present as it ever has been in the past. Initially a hub of the British Empire’s wine trade, secondly a world power in steamship construction and now, as Leith rises out of the more home-grown shadow cast by the so-called ‘trainspotting generation’ of the 90s, the shipyard’s image is once again being reimagined as an important, iconic reminder of Leith’s history and a symbol of Scottish growth and prosperity.
Leith Shipyard’s Proudest Moment
Perhaps the proudest moment in the history of the shipyard's of Leith at the old Menzies yard on the Water of Leith was the construction of the legendary steam boat, Sirius. Built at Leith in 1837, the Sirius was intended to run the London to Cork route for the Saint George Steam Packet Company. However, proving itself early on to be a masterpiece of craftsmanship, the Sirius was chartered to cross the Atlantic by the British and American Steam Navigation Company. By arriving in New York a day ahead of the Great Western, a ship designed by none other than the great industrialist Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Sirius became the first steamship to make the Atlantic crossing. Legend has it that in the last two days of the 18 day crossing, the Sirius ran out of coal and had to be powered by timber and resin. [1]
Nearly 200 years on, the achievements of the Leithers that built the Sirius are still talked about in the pubs on the Walk and the stands of Easter Road to this day, highlighting the reverberation of spirit and community that the shipyard inspires.

At Easter Road they Play At Easter Road they Play
Since 1875 Hibernian Football Club has been an integral part of sporting life in the City of Edinburgh and Port of Leith; its early history up to 1946 has been brilliantly documented in The Making of Hibernian trilogy by Alan Lugton. John Campbell's At Easter Road they Play is the first part of a new trilogy that brings the history up to date, picking up the story from 1946 and covering what was the most successful part of the club's history when Hibernian won three Championship titles and became the first British club to play in the European Cup, reaching the semi-final. Packed with anecdotal tales of the times, it gives a fascinating insight into life at the club when the Famous Five were in their heyday right through to the mid-sixties when a young lad by the name of Joe Baker burst onto the scene. A game-bygame, goal-by-goal account of the many highs and numerous lows, At Easter Road they Play takes the reader on a fantastic journey back to the days when massive crowds flocked to Easter Road to see Hibernian play. For any Hibs fan that lived through those heady days this book will bring back to life a host of happy memories whilst at the same time allowing those fans who were perhaps too young or not even born at the time to see just how different football was back then when compared to the modern day game.

Leith Docks and the Wine Trade
Long before paddle steamers, the port at Leith was one of the UK’s great trading ports, and though many of the later problems that were associated with the ‘trainspotting generation’ came from alcohol, the alcohol trade was a key factor for the areas early growth. As early as the twelfth century, all the wine for the Stuart kings that resided at Holyrood palace was brought in through Leith Docks and in the days of Mary Queen of Scots, the famous French wines that she became fond of during her time there were imported through Leith. This trade increased over the next 200 years and Sherry from Spain and Port from Portugal were added to the haul.
Leith became one of the biggest importers of the finest qualities of wine in the whole of the United Kingdom. The mass storage of wine in Leith was even noted by Sir Walter Scott who talks of coopering (the art of barrelling alcohol for storage) at Leith’s docks:
“Peter Puncheon that was cooper to the queen’s stores at the Timmer Burse (or Timber Bush) at Leith.”
By the Time of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the early 17th century, the list of wines coming into Leith included claret, burgundy, champagne, sherry, port and even some wines from as far afield as Australia. [2] With the export of whisky and the import of wine you could well say that Leith’s was built on alcohol, and though that might have been a proud thing to say a couple of hundred years ago, it could well be a source of shame given the recent stereotype of the area that came out of the 90s.

Ecstasy Ecstasy
Lloyd from Leith has a transfiguring passion for the unhappily married Heather. Together they explore the true nature of house music and chemical romance. Will their ardour fizzle and die or will it ignite and blaze like a thousand suns? Ecstasy follows them and others through the backstreets of Edinburgh, stifling suburban sitting rooms and the bright lights of London. Exhilarating and dazzling, this is Welsh at his very best.

The More Recent History of the Leith Shipyard
The shipyards recent image was summed up in the Proclaimer’s music video for ‘Letter from America’ in 1987, lamenting the closure of industry across Scotland and the migration of once proud industrial workers to America and Canada in search of work. In the video, Henry Robb’s Shipyard, once a bustling hive of activity, looms over Leith, rendered desolate by mass unemployment and the destruction of industry. Though still a symbol of community pride, that pride was slipping as alcoholism and drug abuse began to tarnish the reputation of the region leading to the stain of the character of the ‘trainspotting generation’ of the 90s. The young heroin addicts that Irvine Welsh’s bestselling novel is based on were the sons and daughters of proud shipbuilders at the Henry Robb yards, the unemployment of the closure of industry, coupled with Leith’s history of importing opiates led to this near epidemic. Aida Edemariam and Kirsty Scott recently pointed out that this generation, though now in their forties, are still dying younger than their peers from other parts of the UK. [3]
Released in 1993, the harrowing story of Trainspotting drew attention to the drug and alcohol problems that were rampant in Edinburgh [4], and in particular Leith at this time and the derelict Shipyards became a depressing symbol of this social degredation.
Back on track
Though this generation changed the image of the shipyard throughout the 90s to one of decay, in the last decade it has managed to brush its self off and rise like a phoenix from the flames again. With world class drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres and community groups [5] helping more and more people with problems of addiction back to their feet the problem is beginning to show signs of decline. [6] Alcohol abuse, though still a problem across all Scotland, is under some degree of control and the Leith shoreline is home to modern gastro-pubs, restaurants and wine bars that are using alcohol to restore a pride to the shipyards more reminiscent of the booming times of the alcohol trade in the 17th century.

The Rise and Fall of British Shipbuilding The Rise and Fall of British Shipbuilding
This is the story of how, from modest beginnings, Britain rose throughout the 19th century to become the greatest shipbuilding nation in the world. It begins with the age of sail, then moves on to the days of iron-hulled steamers. It shows how conflicts arose between the traditional shipwrights and the new men who came from the metal industries, leading to the infamous demarcation disputes. It is also the story of men like Brunel and Armstrong, geniuses who were always looking for change and development. It is also the story of decline in the 20th century, when yards were no longer as innovative as their foreign competitors and the British merchant fleet shrank from being the biggest in the world at the start of the century to ranking number 38 at the end of it. It is a story of great achievements and tragic collapse.

Looking to the future of Leith Docks
With new industries in computer software design and a solid reputation as an area for the burgeoning industry of game design, employment is beginning to creep back into the area. As well as the government building at Victoria Quay, [7] Leith Docks are also managing to keep the proud maritime traditions going by earning a strong reputation as a supporting dock for offshore development and acting as an important destination for the northern European cruise industry. [8] After a difficult few decades, the shipyards at Leith are once again becoming a modern icon of regeneration and pride.
  1. "Sirius." Encyclopaedia Britannica, accessed on 20/07/2014,
  2. "The Story of Leith," Electric Scotland, accessed on 20/07/2014,
  3. Aida Edemariam and Kirsty Scott, "What Happened to the Trainspotting Generation?" The Guardian online, August 15 2009, accessed 20/07/2014,
  4. "Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse," Helpguide Scotland, Accessed on 20/07/2014,
  5. "Turning Point Leith," Turning Point, accessed on 20/07/2014,
  6. "Treatment Programs for Alcohol Abuse," Treatment4Addiction, accessed on 20/07/2014,
  7. "Victoria Quay," The Scottish Government, accessed on 20/07/2014,
  8. "Port of Leith," Forth Ports, accessed on 20/07/2014,

This more modern photograph is from 2011 and not so much has changed really as far as the architectural look of the Shore anyway.

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