Glasgow & West Scotland

TS Queen Mary set for historic return to Glasgow

TS Queen Mary Image copyright Cpt Calum Bryce
Image caption TS Queen Mary pictured at Glasgow's Prince's Dock in May 1977

A 1930s steam ship that gave its name to the ocean liner Queen Mary is set to make a historic return to Glasgow next month, more than 80 years after she was first launched on the Clyde.

A charity backed by actor Robbie Coltrane is planning to bring the TS Queen Mary back from the Port of Tilbury in Essex.

She has been languishing at the docks for years after falling into disrepair.

Friends of TS Queen Mary plans to make her seaworthy and tow her to Glasgow.

The group, which was set up by Glasgow businessman Iain Sim, secured more than £300,000 of donations to enable the ship to undergo essential repairs.

It hopes to give the 250ft steamer a permanent berth near the Finnieston Crane in Glasgow.

But she will need a further £2m of restoration work before making her debut.

History of a steam ship

Image copyright Cpt Calum Bryce
Image caption TS Queen Mary sailed from Glasgow to places such as Dunoon, Rothesay, Millport and Arran

Built in 1933, The TS Queen Mary was one of the last steamships to be launched from the famous Clyde dockyards.

She sailed passengers 'doon the watter' from Glasgow to destinations such as Dunoon, Rothesay, Millport and Arran.

At the outbreak of World War Two, the steamer - known as TS Queen Mary II at the time - became a lifeline for Scotland's island communities.

While other vessels were commandeered to sweep for mines or to protect Scotland's skies from German bombers, she helped maintain a vital passenger and freight service between the mainland and the islands.

As cars became more affordable and British holiday habits changed, she was eventually retired in 1977 and spent several years as a floating restaurant.

In 2008 she was sold to a private owner but plans to restore her failed and she fell into disrepair.

The charity's patron, Robbie Coltrane, said: "It'll be absolutely fantastic to have her back where she belongs.

"Young people will be able to see just how beautiful boats were in the thirties and people my age will be able to gaze at her nostalgically. How bonnie she is."

The charity behind her return has been supported by businesses and organisations such as Forth Ports, V Ships, Ferguson Marine and The RHS Charitable Foundation run by Lord Smith of Kelvin, as well as Caledonian MacBrayne (Calmac).

Graeme MacFarlan, from Calmac, said: "The history of TS Queen Mary is very much part of our own heritage. And we are proud to be able to play a small part in bringing her home to the Clyde.

"This is a chance for everyone to be part of saving a unique piece of Clyde shipbuilding history."

Image copyright Friends of TS Queen Mary
Image caption Donations were secured to enable the ship to undergo essential repairs

Mr Sim said: "It's been a tremendous effort to fundraise such a vast amount so quickly. It wouldn't have been possible without the fantastic support from prominent businesses like CalMac and the people and communities of Scotland.

"With an estimated £2m required to fully restore and refurbish her, the hard work will really start in earnest when she returns home.

"It's exhausting to think about it but we've come so far so fast and we're absolutely determined. With the people and businesses of Scotland behind us, I'm confident we'll succeed."

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