Monday, 31 December 2018

Goodbye 2018

Goodbye to 2018 & Hello to 2019

As we consign another year to history we will be bringing you right up to date in the New Year of 2019.

Lots to look forward to including news on the new book about shipbuilding at Leith with Volume One due to be published.


The new website will also begin to take shape so look out for that as well.

All that remains is to wish all the very best for 2019

many thanks for all the support over the years.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Leithshipyards website

Hi all,

Some of you good people may have noticed that their has been ongoing problems with the existing website, all due to a-hole hackers it has to be said.

Not to worry though there will be a brand new much more secure website arriving soon.

So look out for the new website, it will take some time but it should be even better than before.

New books on ships built at Leith will soon be ready as well, so keep checking back to find out how things are progressing.

Many more great ideas and news still to come about the ships built at Leith and the books all about them.

Thanks for your time.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Shipbuilding and Asbestos use.

While their may be little doubts about the merits of our once great shipbuilding industry, an industry that powered a country and right or wrong at one time the largest empire the world had seen.

An industry full of innovation and new technology for the time, making vast fortunes for the ones at the top all this came at a terrible price for the men who had to build the ships.

Working in conditions that were not conducive to good health shall we say, with one of the terrible materials being the wide use of red lead a paint coating used on all ships for many years? The dangers of lead are now well known.

 Above picture shows the lower bow unit of HMS HERALD being erected in 1974, with red lead paint all over used for protection and as a primer before the final finished coats of white paint would have her looking all ship shape and Bristol fashion. The date is correct it was only in 1974.

There was a worse material used with the knowledge of those involved in its continued use long after the dangers of using Asbestos were well documented, this knowledge was suppressed by successive governments and owners alike. White asbestos or blue asbestos it made little difference if inhaled into workers lungs.

Many men have paid the ultimate price and still many are afflicted with the results of working with asbestos, while the government lawyers produce reams and reams of paper-work and laws to try and prevent people making a claim for working with this fatal material. Mesothelioma  will result in a truly horrific way to died.

They are well aware that most if not all claimants will died off, the relatives will not have the wherewithal to continue the fight and the government of the day will not have to pay up or take responsibility yet again.

I often question what type of government treats its citizen so.

Anyone affected by this can contact the following organisation for help

My name is Bradley Welch and I work in the Public Outreach Department of The Mesothelioma Center (

Those who have worked on shipyards, ports and aboard ships were at risk of asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma, a rare cancer that can take 20-50 years to develop. Our website features extensive information on asbestos and we work 1-on-1 with individuals to help them find local doctors, treatment centers and support groups all at no cost.

More information can also be found at the following - Please take a look at some of the great information we have at or

Public Outreach Team
The Mesothelioma Center

As is usual most of the above is aimed at U.S. Citizens not just shipyard workers but for anyone who served onboard any number of navy ships as they too were in danger.

In the U.K. you can go to the following -

The two links above are charitable organisations, as you have to be careful with many of the websites offering support on the internet are in fact just ambulance chasers, fat lawyers who want to take a stake of any compensation claim.

Leithshipyards website is more than pleased to be able to raise just a little bit more awareness on this terrible result of our shipbuilding past, no matter what country they all used the same materials long after they were well aware of the dangers of using such materials, all done in the name of profit.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Christmas Lights for Mercator

Xmas lights

The volunteer crew of the last sailing ship built at Leith have been busy setting out some Christmas lights to present the recently refitted ship at her best for this Christmas and New Year of 2017.

Mercator's mast's being prepared for Xmas Lights as seen above.

This fine and well preserved example of shipbuilding excellence is well worth a visit at her berth in Ostend on the Belgian Coast.

The Sail Training Ship/Museum Mercator seen at her berth in the harbour at Ostend.

Some of Mercators Volenteer Crew sort through the Christmas Lights before climbing the masts to put them up in time for Xmas.

Up the rigging with full safety gear on to get the lights rigged.

Top of the mast on Mercator the last sailing ship built at Leith launched from the Ramage & Ferguson Shipyard as Ship No 268 in December 1931.

Look out for the new website

Happy to report that their will be a brand new up to date revamped website about all the ships built in Leith coming to the internet near you. The new website will be up and running within the next six months or so.

There have been numerous problems with the existing website along with some challenges with regard to the comment pages, with some being published while some have just notgot through to the website. Dont let that put you off sending in your comments.

The new website will feature so much new material that has not been shown on the present website so something to look out for along with the exiting news on some books published by The Loftsman.

2018 will be a busy year and we hope you will continue to support and join with us in keeping the heritage of Leith Shipbuilding going. (After all we just cannot rely on Edinburgh Council doing anything about our fine shipbuilding past)

You can still visit the website of course until the new one comes online.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Sail Training Ship MERCATOR

It has been some time since I have been able to spend anytime on the Blog or the website, but happy to let you all know about the latest developments on another old ship built at Leith.

New lease of life for the last ship built at the famous Ramage & Ferguson shipyard, at Leith, Scotland.


Launched from the Leith Shipyard in December 1931 she was Ship No 269 according to the official shipbuilders list, she was an order from the Belgian Government for a 3 masted Barqentine for use as a sail training ship to be used by the Belgian Navy.

A barquentine is a sailing vessel with three or more masts; with a square rigged foremast and fore-and-aft rigged main, mizzen and any other masts.
Ideal for sail training along with the advantage of having a smaller crew than a full rigged ship, they are capable of very good performance before the wind, along with the ability to sail relatively close to the wind.

The MERCATOR is a very striking looking ship that required extensive work after a long period of lay-up at the port of Ostend.

MERCATOR seen here at her berth in Ostend, Belgium
(Photograph from the official Mercator website)

Her extensive re-fit was carried out in Ostend, Belgium by
IDP Shipyard  (Industries des pĂȘcheries)

They did the masts and the rigging a few years ago. While last year they carried out repairs, cleaning and panting of the hull along with a complete refit of her inside, with the cost of the whole operation costing around 3.4 million Euro. She is now back at her berth in Ostend open to the public, who as you will see in the video below came out in great numbers to welcome the old Leith built ship home.

Return of the Mercator to Ostend

If you happen to be in Ostend and wish to be shown around the ship and the surrounding area then we would recommend that you contact Joris Surmont, who is a very knowledgeable guide working in Ostend with very good English as well, you can find more details of his guided tours below, just click on the link to be taken right there.

You can also visit the official MERCATOR museum site here at

She is a testimony to the men who built her at Leith, now eighty five (85) years after she first entered the waters of the Firth of Fourth and still going strong, she is supported by a marvellous organisation along with many volunteers who will ensure she goes on for many more years.

Saturday, 11 February 2017


The SS Gothland
“I spent some time as a young steward on this vessel,, and much of the time pulling men out of the north Atlantic and unfortunately attending their burial the next day This ship survived the war due, to its small tonnage. It is my belief that the (new) Artic Medal be awarded to its past crew members. The British historic organisation responsible for the awards is sadly and seemingly unaware of this vessel proud war history” John Hunter an old codger born in Leith

The GOTHLAND underway

 For more on the brave tales of the men who served on the rescue Ship SS GOTHLAND

The above was sent into the website by John Hunter now in Australia but originally from Leith. With more comment below, and indeed the crews of such vessels deserve all the praise possible and any medals going, the fact that someone has to contact through an unofficial website is a disgrace and perhaps something the Edinburgh Council members would wish to take up on there behalf, after all they are always looking into my website, although never any offer to pay anything towards the upkeep, so no surprises there.

 The inside of the SS GOTHLAND converted with extra bunks to take on rescued seafarers from the ships sunk while in convoy during World War Two, many a survivor would have been glad of such a bunk.

The above photograph is from the Imperial War Museum showing the ship while on resue practice sometime in February 1943

Rescue practise in the Clyde in 1943 in another Imperial War Museum photograph taken during practise exercises and showing how they would bring a survivor back on board, of course this was carried out for the camera in a calm sea, these men had to do the same in all kinds of weather with the constant threat that the German U-Boats may also have them in there sights, after sinking many of the ships in convoy.

At the rear of South Leith Church flies the Red Ensign of a courageous little ship that took part in the Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War. Remarkable not for the great battles that it took part in but for saving men’s life’s at Sea.

They should all get medals, every last man who served in this dangerous mission of saving life at sea during wartime.