8th July 1964 Jeanie Deans

Jeanie Deans.Keith Abraham

On Wednesday 8th July 1964 Jeanie Deans was rostered for the trip “Round the Lochs and Firth of Clyde” from Craigendoran (8.40am), to Gourock (9.25am), Dunoon (9.45am), Rothesay (10.25am), Largs (11.05am) and Keppel Pier Millport (11.25am).

It was a windy day and on her return to Largs around 5,.30pm there was thought to be too much of a sea running to call so instead she deposited the Largs contingent at the more sheltered Fairlie Pier with a coach laid on to take them back.

The next day Thursday 9th July she repeated her Tuesday roster that week running the trip from Craigendoran (10.10am) to Gourock (10.40am) and Dunoon (11.05am) up Loch Goil and Loch Long to Lochgoilhead and to Arrochar.

On Friday 10th July 1964 she ran the up river day trip from Largs (10.15am), Rothesay (10.50am), Dunoon (11.30am) and Gourock (11.50am) to Glasgow returning during the afternoon.

On the Monday 6th July she had run from Gourock (8,55am), Dunoon (9.15am), Wemyss Bay (9.40am) and Rothesay (10.15am) for Brodick and a cruise to Pladda. This was the only day that week when she needed her sea-going Board of Trade Class III Passenger Certificate. All the other cruises were done on her Class IV PC for what was then called “Partially Smooth Waters” (today named Category D Waters)  which included then, and still includes today, going outside and around the Isle of Bute as well as on to Tarbet and up Loch Fyne.

For the peak weeks of the 1964 season Jeanie Deans alternated week and week about with Waverley the excursion programme based at Craigendorn. One week one of them took the long afternoon cruise around Bute each weekday from Craigendoran (12.40pm) and calling at Gourock (1.10pm), Dunoon (1.30pm) and Rothesay (2.25pm) whilst the other ran the excursions to other destinations. Then the following week they swapped over. On Saturdays they both piled in on the main Clyde ferry connections where their large passenger capacities helped to shift the crowds.

This roster meant that in the peak weeks of the main season both Jeanie Deans and Waverley technically only went to sea one day a fortnight (to Brodick and Pladda) with all the other trips on all the other 13 days in each of their fortnightly rosters running on their Class IV Passenger Certificates on “Partially Smooth Waters”

Captain Crawford (left) with Captain MacClean who was master of Jeanie Deans from 1948 to 1961.

Captain Donald Crawford was Jeanie deans’ main master for her last two seasons in 1963 and 1964. He had first been promoted to master in 1936 to Kenilworth, and subsequently served on all the LNER ships at one time another. He became the first master of the Maid of Argyll in 1953 and stayed with the ship until he joined Jeanie Deans in 1963.

After Jeamie Deans was withdrawn at the end of the 1964 season Captain Crawford moved onto Caledonia and when she too was withdrawn spent one summer on our Waverley before he too retired in 1970.

With the excursion market in steep decline, Jeanie Deans, along with the large turbine steamer Duchess of Montrose, was withdrawn and put up for sale at the end of the 1964 season. The Duchess went for scrap but against the odds Jeanie Deans was bought by PSPS member Don Rose.

He had already chartered Medway Queen on a couple of occasions for sailings from London’s Tower Pier and the Consul for a week’s “frolic” on the Thames ono 1963 and was now persuaded by another PSPS member Tony McGinnity, who himself had bought Consul and was then earning a living as a ship broker, to buy Jeanie Deans.

Don organised her to be brought south in November 1965, with my fourteen year old self aboard for part of the run round, renamed her Queen of the South and tried to operate her on the Thames in 1966 and 1967.

Don found it harder to successfully manage a paddle steamer than he had imagined. Jeanie Deans was by then in need of major structural attention which he couldn’t afford. The Board of Trade took a particularly picky attitude to paddle steamers changing hands and managed by, as they saw it, inexperienced operators. And recruiting crew of the right calibre and quality fresh for a seasonal business was ever a difficulty with managements sometimes having to make do with what they could get rather than what they would prefer to have had as the best usually have jobs and are not too keen to give up stable employment for the offer of a few month’s seasonal work.

In the end Queen of the South ran for only a handful of days on the Thames in 1966 and 1967 and was towed away to the scrapyard in Belgium in December 1967 leaving behind her a mountain of debt.

John Megoran

John Megoran

June 2021