Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Britain's Largest Ferry Group Donates to Restore an Old Favourite to Former Glory

Last Pleasure Steamer of Her Type Will Become Educational Resource
Shipping News Feature
UK – Few vessels have such a chequered, or honourable, history as the former pleasure steamer TS Queen Mary. No, not that one, although she has carried royalty, this is the vessel built by the William Denny & Brothers yard in 1933 which gave up her name when her more famous cousin was constructed, becoming Queen Mary ll for a time before reclaiming her original title in 1976.

Now, as the last vessel of her type in the world she occupies a place in the Core 40 fleet on the UK’s National Historic Ship register and, since being taken over by a charity in 2015, she has been undergoing a full restoration which received a boost this month when the Scottish ferry group CalMac donated £5,000 towards reinstating the vessel’s main mast. Chairman of Friends of TS Queen Mary Iain Sim said:

“We are delighted that CalMac continue their relationship with their famous former flagship. The donation represents an absolutely fantastic start to our campaign to reinstate a proper mast on TS Queen Mary.”

The vessel was known as Britain's finest pleasure steamer, and it her heyday carried around 13,000 passengers per week when, at the outbreak of World War Two, the steamer switched from a pleasure craft to become a lifeline for Scotland's island communities. After the war she was transferred to the flag of the Caledonian Steam Packet Company, who merged with MacBraynes in 1973 to become Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd.

The latest donation will help pay for the mast which will be machined from a single Douglas Fir tree and varnished before being installed on board with original refurbished rigging. Since rescuing the vessel from being scrapped, in 2015, Friends of TS Queen Mary have raised and invested £2 million, both in cash and in-kind, in the project to restore TS Queen Mary as a heritage destination and education centre, moored at Glasgow Science Centre on the River Clyde. CalMac Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Brian Fulton said:

“The historic relationship the company has with this vessel runs deep and we are delighted to be able to play a part in restoring the Queen Mary to her former glory. On completion she will be a great educational resource to demonstrate the role CalMac has played over the years, and continues to play, in providing lifeline services to support remote communities and island economies.”

CalMac is Britain’s largest ferry company carrying over 5.3 million passengers annually and serving 26 routes to island and remote mainland locations with its fleet of 33 vessels. When the TS Queen Mary is fully restored it is hoped an estimated 150,000 people will be welcomed aboard every year creating around 40 new jobs in the process.