Hard to believe it’s over a year since we last met the long lived G.L. Watson-designed west highlands and islands of Scotland cargo vessel S.S. Hebrides (1898). And incomprehensible that we’ve been watching the “Ealing Comedy” The Maggie (USA: High and Dry) for many more years than that without recognising Hebrides as one of its unsung stars.
In reality, and in model form, Hebrides makes a cameo appearance at Kingston Dock, Glasgow in this clip from the early scenes of an enchanting film, alongside much loved actors of the past, Hubert Gregg (Pusey), Alex Mackenzie (Captain MacTaggart), Geoffrey Keen (Mr Campbell, the shipping agent), James Copeland (the Mate) and Paul Douglas (Calvin B. Marshall – voice only here); not forgetting a real Clyde puffer, either Boer or Inca – they shared the title role. Later in the film, Roddy McMillan makes a brief appearance; he would eventually play Neil Munro’s puffer skipper “Para Handy” in the popular 1960s BBC TV series.
The real S.S. Hebrides appears from 2:28. The site of Kingston dock was immediately to the east of the Kingston motorway bridge, almost in the centre of Glasgow, which rather overshadows the only survivor from the “set” depicted below – the magnificent but nowadays rather lonely Cooperative Wholesale Society Building.
~ Iain McAllister ~
Correct that it was some time before it was ‘obvious’ that the ship was the ‘Old Heb’, but when you have researched her you almost instantly recognise her. The ‘Maggie’ – I have the official DVD copy and it still can bring a laugh to my lips. Hubert Gregg as Pusey was, for me, probably the star of the film – after the Maggie herself of course.
There are some lovely location shots: Central Hotel entrance, Crinan Canal (poaching scene, swing bridge scene, Crinan sea lock clip), Bowmore and Port Charlotte (Islay). There was talk of a re-make a few years ago but it seems to have been a non-starter.
My DVD is the Optimum Classic/ Studio Canal “Ealing Studios Collection” 2006 release which I believe was the first DVD version. The earlier VHS Video version took a long time coming compared with other Ealing films and was very poor quality, presumably from an unrestored print…