And so time passed.
It does that.
As a child, I had spent many a happy hour on the Steamers,
running down to see the engines, peering through the armoured
glass at the paddle box ( a mass of spray when she was moving -
spooky and skeletal when we were tied up at a pier ), listening
to the German Band (the German part of Glasgow, that is), watching
the elaborate ceremony of the ropes, as we were warped into a pier,
and above all savouring that special Clyde Steamer Smell - a mixture
of steam, hot metal, asbestos, food and the faint but unmistakable bouquet
of whisky, coming from the Clachan, down in the
bowels of the ship.
Steamers were a part of life on the Clyde. Even a part of death, now I think of it
- when my Grandfather died, we took his body to Tarbert by steamer (the Saint Columba,
As I grew up, I spent less and less time thinking about the steamers.
Occasionally I'd spot one from the train, tied up at a dock, and wonder why it never
went anywhere. Sometimes I'd read a newspaper story about a steamer being
scrapped, or turned into a floating restaurant in London, but I didn't
really give it much thought - there were plenty more steamers, weren't there?