Green Launch

Shamrock II immediately after launching at Dumbarton 20 April 1901

Shamrock II curtseys after launching at Dumbarton 20 April 1901.

In the first chapter of G.L. Watson – The Art and Science of Yacht Design – according to Tom Cunliffe in his recent Yachting World review, “a ‘scene setter’ describing the launch of Sir Thomas Lipton’s Shamrock II, with nobility, yard workers, razzmatazz and champagne…” – author, Martin Black, draws us into the buzz of the America’s Cup challenger’s launching day at William Denny & Bros Leven Shipyard, Dumbarton.

But to place things in perspective, a glance at Clydesite shows that Yard No 643 was just one of about 250 ‘ship’ launches on the Clyde in 1901, or an average of a bottle of champagne almost every day and a half.

During the 1980s and 90s, I was lucky enough to attended some launchings at what is now the last active Clyde shipyard building merchant tonnage, Ferguson Shipbuilders.

No matter how utilitarian the vessel, these are always emotional affairs. At Ferguson’s Port Glasgow yard they always seemed more charged than most because of the sense that each one could be the last, whilst still getting carried away by the hip hip hurrays.

Hallaig kisses the Clyde. CMA/ Peter Devlin

Hallaig kisses the Clyde.
(CMA/ Peter Devlin)

On Monday 17th December, the first merchant vessel launched by Fergusons – or anywhere on the river in fact – for five years, the revolutionary, hybrid powered Ro-Ro ferry, Hallaig, kissed the Clyde the under the watchful glower of Newark Castle.

Fergusons did incredibly well to retain the ability to do that by diversification during such a long hiatus. It’s a great story, but we suspect that Shamrock II just beats Hallaig in good looks.


More on the Hybrid Ferries Project downloadable here.


Hallaig’s Motorman maintains an entertaining blog as well as his immaculate engine room.

Iain McAllister

[UPDATE 13 October 2013: this evening, Hallaig completed her  maiden voyage delivery cruise from Port Glasgow to the Isle of Raasay via Campbeltown and Oban.]

About Peggy Bawn Press

496pg biography of Scottish yacht designer, George Lennox Watson (1851-1904). Significant book on the history of yacht design & the development of modern yachting. Beautifully illustrated. Many photographs previously unpublished.
This entry was posted in America's Cup, Clyde yachting, G.L. Watson, G.L. Watson clients, shipyards, tank testing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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