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Saturday, 24 May 2014

Why is there no Leith Built Ships Official Website funded by Edinburgh Council

It says it all in the heading folks, just why is there no official website funded by Edinburgh Council to show off the history of the many fine ships built at Leith, this question I keep asking myself and it was the main reason why I started up this Blog and my website at
This has all been carried out by myself with lots of input from interested others of course but all the work of putting everything together is by me and the cost of such is borne by myself as well.
It really ticks me off when I see the great job done by Aberdeen Council, funded by no less than the Heritage Lottery fund to showcase the merits of the very fine and many ships built at Aberdeen as well, so why is most of the heritage of the Leith shipyards locked away in the dusty archives of the Archives of Scotland where no one gets to see it, unless you make an appointment of course and pay for the privilege.

Even ex workers are no exception and anyone would think that the Archives actually owned the information, this information should be out there for all to access, yet another reason for my setting up the website.
Is this yet another instance of the ineptitude of the Council in Edinburgh, just because it in fact features ships built at Leith, I repeat Leith not Edinburgh (Leith only joined with Edinburgh in the 1920's under a rigged vote and much duress)
So not much I can do about this situation as it would need someone in Leith or Edinburgh to pick this up and run with the project as I no longer live anywhere near.
For anyone interested take a look at the Aberdeen Shipbuilders website for yourself and see what I am speaking about, it is way past time that some money was spent by the Council of Edinburgh to rectify this situation and let people who are interested see what is hidden away (unless you pay of course)
The Leith "Motto"

Who knows perhaps the director of the national archives for Scotland will see this request and respond as they certainly do not respond to any other requests sent in to them, we require an official good website to show the history of the Leith Shipyards and you should be spending some money on this project.

Rant is now over for the week folks, thank you,

perhaps if you feel strongly about this subject you will also contact the National Archives of Scotland and ask them why no official website (such as the Aberdeen one not the existing archive website) showing this great history of a time we shall never see again in the Port of Leith


Saturday, 10 May 2014

SATURNO Ship No 81 - Update

This Ocean going Salvage Tug was the first in a long line of pedigree vessels of this type built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd, a line of tugs that lead to the two mightiest and most powerful in the world when they were launched at Leith as the LLOYDSMAN AND THE S.A.WOLRAAD WOLTEMADE in the 1970's.

The SATURNO was built and launched in 1928 and was only taken to be broken up in 2010 safe to say that she had a useful working life of around 75 years quite remarkable for a ship and a testament to the craftsmanship and pride in workmanship that went into her build.
Now thanks to the Grand Son of an old ex Foreman Loftsman at the Henry Robb yard we have lots of information and photographs of the build and sea trials of this fine ship, so our thanks go to Peter Wallace and to his Grand Father William Wallace who had the book originally.

From the original book made for the launch of the SATURNO in 1928

This amazing ship undertook a maiden voyage of more than 9,000 miles towing at first her two satellite vessels which were lighters of 95feet with a 200 grt to Dakar in Senegal, then back to the Canary Islands to pick up 3 crane barges that had first been built at Robb then dis-assembled and re-erected in the Canaries ready to be towed across the Atlantic by the SATURNO to home port of Santos in Brazil.
Fair to say they don't make them like that any more with most ships today lucky of a useful life approaching 30 years before going to the breakers.
 Many more original photographs will go onto the website at and much more will go into the forthcoming books on the ships built at Leith

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Movie about HMNZS KIWI

I did say in the last post that we had been working on some interesting projects and one of them is the probable movie going to be made by a couple of New Zealand film makers about the HMNZS KIWI Ship No 315 and her part in the attack on the huge Japanese submarine I-1 which was successfully carried out by KIWI along with her sister ship HMNZS MOA Ship No 314 also built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.
The movie is going to concentrate on the extraordinary act of bravery carried out by one of her crew as the two small ships took on their formidable foe.
Visit the new e-book library at Ships and the Sea

During the entire battle the Kiwi’s searchlight and signalling lamp were trained on the submarine.  The searchlight was controlled by Leading Signalman Campbell Buchanan at considerable risk to himself.  Into the action Buchanan was hit and although mortally wounded remained at his post uncomplaining until relieved.  He died of his wounds at Tulagi the following day.  This act of courage won him the US Navy Cross and a posthumous mention in dispatches.  . In a fierce action that lasted more than an hour, Kiwi rammed the submarine three times before I-1 finally struck a reef and was wrecked.
Look out for updates on this story which reminds me that I need to get some more information about the ship and her dimensions over to the guys in New Zealand (So if you read this Evan I will get it done and sent to you soon)
HMNZS KIWI seen in dry-dock after ramming the Japanese Sub I-1 in 1943


Fantastic Photo's of Queen Mary 2 & her Captain

Its been a wee while since time has allowed some updates on the blog however a lot of new things happening and in the meantime check out these amazing photographs of the Captain of the majestic liner Queen Mary 2.
The photographs are from friends of the Leith Shipyards website over at
a great site of interest for all things to do with ships and you get free plans as well.

The Great Liners Story The Great Liners Story
This history charts the hey-day of the great liners, those grand and lavish vessels that cruised around the world carrying their glamorous passengers from port to port. Decorated to the highest of finishes, fitted out in the most luxurious of styles, these floating palaces epitomised their opulent age. Their iconic names, from Titanic to Mauretania, from Queen Elizabeth to QE2, conjure up visions of power, grace, elegance and nostalgia for this golden age of travel. Written by maritime and cruise liner expert William Miller, and accompanied by stunning photographs, artworks, Did You Know facts and quotations, The Great Liners Story is a must-have addition to any maritime library.

There is always a bound between a ship and her captain. Mostly they try to have a picture with most of ships they are in command of. Queen Mary 2′s Captain Kevin Oprey posed with his ship in an unusual way, but the result is so amazing.

The Captain of the liner Queen Mary 2 walks on water or so it would seem from this amazing photograph, he is of course standing on her bulbous bow in a very calm sea

The Captain of the Queen Mary 2 stands on her bulbous bow and gives some indication of the scale of this magnificent liner

For more great photographs of the Queen Mary 2 and many other visit the Leith Shipyards photos pages.

Transatlantic Liners Transatlantic Liners
Prior to air travel there was only one way to cross the Atlantic: by ship. By the late nineteenth century, steam ships dominated the transatlantic passenger trade, growing exponentially in size as maritime technology improved and as more immigrants poured from Europe into the New World. As the liners got bigger, the scope for luxury increased, so that a substantial part of ships such as Titanic would be given over to sumptuous dining saloons, lounges, smoking rooms and even gymnasia for the most affluent passengers. Meanwhile, the bulk of passengers, the poor migrants with one-way tickets to America, were efficiently arranged in small cabins with bunks in the bows and stern of the ship. This book is an introduction to the age of the superliner, from 1900 to the modern day, exploring changes in the liner's design and role over a century that saw competition between shipping lines and between nations. The author describes the history and design of such great ships as Lusitania, Olympic, Imperator, Normandie, both queen Elizabeths, both queen Marys and, of course, the legendary Titanic. He tells the story of the heyday of the great liners before immigration to America was curtailed, the many races for the Blue Riband speed record, the experiences of rich and poor passengers, the role of the liners as troopships and hospital ships during the world wars, and the decline in the Atlantic trade after the 1960s, since when most passengers have travelled by air.