I was reading recently about the unsuccessful auction to find a buyer for the Falls of Clyde, the last remaining four-masted sailing vessel, currently laid up in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In previous editions of Sea Breezes I have sometimes bemoaned the failure in the UK (and other countries) to cherish and preserve our maritime heritage and the story of the Falls of Clyde may, unfortunately, have an unhappy ending.
The Falls of Clyde has been laid up as a museum ship in Honolulu for many years and was designated a US historic landmark back in the late 1980s, but, not surprisingly, from its name, its origin is very Scottish and it was launched from a shipyard in Port Glasgow on the River Clyde back in 1878.
It was part of a fleet of ships built for the Falls Line, a relatively short lived shipping company which operated towards the end of the 19th century and at the outset of the 20th. Falls Line was headquartered at Union Street in the heart of Glasgow and next to the city’s largest railway station (Glasgow Central). Funnily enough, back in the early 1980s, I was based at a Union Street office for Sealink Scotland when it was still in nationalised control as the shipping arm of British Railways.
All the Falls Line ships were named after waterfalls on major Scottish rivers, and in many ways, it is wonderful to think that the Falls of Clyde is still in existence 141 years after its launch. There are concerted vessels to try and save the vessel (the Save the Falls of Clyde international campaign), but I wonder if the cost might prove to be too high for a successful conclusion, and the outcome of the recent auction does not offer much reassurance. Let’s hope there might be positive news to report on this in future editions of Sea Breezes.