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Caledonia  (1934)

Above: Caledonia on 5th August 1967. Photo by kind courtesy of David Perry

Launched on February 1st, 1934 by Wm Denny & Bros Ltd at Dumbarton, Scotland

Engines : Triple Expansion diagonal : 20, 30.5 and 50 in x 60 in

Dimensions : 223 ft 6 in x 30 ft 1 in

624 Gross Registered Tons

Built for Caledonian Steam Packet Company Ltd
Featured concealed paddle-boxes and linked observation decks above fore and aft deck shelters
Served as a minesweeper named HMS Goatfell during the Second World War
Served on a wide variety of routes, primarily ferry sailings, but also cruising out of Ayr.
Converted to oil-burning for the 1955 season. Radar fitted in 1959.
Replaced PS Jeanie Deans at the Craigendoran station in 1965 and undertook more cruise work
Sold for scrapping after the 1969 season, but Arnott, Young, having renamed her Old Caledonia looked for another buyer as an alternative to scrapping her
Resold to the brewing company Bass-Charrington. Left Greenock under tow on 2nd January 1972

Retaining the name Old Caledonia, she served as a floating pub moored on the Embankment, central London, arriving on 23rd April 1972
Badly damaged by fire on 27th April 1980
Found not to be worth repair and scrapped at Sittingbourne.
Engines preserved at the "Hollycombe Steam in the Country" adventure park at Iron Hill, Liphook, Hampshire

Caledonia's appearance in 1934 along with her near-sister Mercury caused considerable interest and, amongst paddler purists, considerable dismay on acount of her unusual, but thoroughly modern appearance. Whilst the LNER's new Jeanie Deans of 1931 looked not dissimilar to existing paddlers, Caledonia featured a large elliptical funnel, deck shelters fore and aft connected to provide an extensive promenade deck, and paddleboxes without the traditional vents, which when seen broadside on from a distance, appeared to conceal her true propulsion method. The latter was really more of an adoption of the modern "art-deco" styling popular at the time.

It had been 31 years since the last Caledonian paddler had entered service, and although they had not added any turbine steamers to their first such vessel (Duchess of Argyll of 1906) until 1930, continued adherence to paddle propulsion was mot entirely surprising. Caledonia was not designed for the long hauls to Campbeltown and Inveraray - railway connections to Dunoon and Rothesay would be the staple, and sufficient deck space for the carriage of barrows and small cargoes would be needed. The relatively short distances between piers meant that a paddler's quick acceleration and deceleration gave it an edge over the more expensive turbine steamer

The early 1950s saw car ferries introduced to provide an increasingly necessary service on the main routes across the Firth. Paddlers were increasingly relegated to relief duties, but this remained a vital role due to the poor capacity and turnaround times of the car ferries in peak periods.

Her excellent covered accommodation, plus a reasonable turn of speed (over 17 knots on trial and 14 knots in service), made her an ideal cruise ship and even in pre-war days she was employed cruising to Arran via the Kyles. The car ferry revolution meant that Caledonia was posted to Ayr in 1954 as excursion steamer for this popular holiday resort, which also entailed periodic relief sailings from Ardrossan to Arran. In 1965 she moved up-Firth to Craigendoran, to replace the withdrawn Jeanie Deans, cruising round Bute out of the former LNER stronghold for a further 5 years until the disastrous economics of Clyde cruising signalled the end.

World War II activities

She started off in the 11th minesweeper flotilla but was an anti-aircraft vessel from 1942. In May 1940 the 11th was sent from the Clyde to Harwich to cover for the Essex-based flotilla which was called to Dunkirk. They only got as far as Dover by the end of the operation, so then went to Milford Haven instead of Harwich. It was X-mas day 1940 that Goatfell as part of the 11th was present when her sister ship Mercury was sunk by a mine and sank under tow back to Milford haven. The Clyde steamers still in the 11th went to London in 1942 and were converted to AA ships. When under conversion, Clyde fleetmate Juno was sunk in an air raid, but Caledonia/Goatfell survived. The survivors became utility vessels first at Hull, then Harwich. In advance of D-Day, Caledonia/Goatfell was sent to Weymouth. She did not move until D-Day + 5 to act as a communications ship and AA vessel. After three days she was ordered back to the Solent to take shelter, whilst flotilla mate Jupiter remained at the French coast. She then was used to try and shoot down V1 rockets in the Solent. Once the Allied forces had advanced sufficiently, Caledonia/Goatfell was sent to Antwerp which was under heavy German bombardment, including V1 and V2s. She returned to the Clyde on VE Day + 1.
Caledonia on the Clyde in photos

Above : Caledonia in 1951 by James Dobie (by kind courtesy of Gordon Provan)

Above : Caledonia arriving at Gourock in 1956 by James Dobie (by kind courtesy of Gordon Provan)

Above :  A magnificent study of Caledonia in 1967 by kind courtesy of Jake Dale from his collection

Above : Caledonia at Rothesay in 1967 - courtesy of the Jake Dale collection

Above : Caledonia passing through the Kyles of Bute near Tighnabruaich on 3rd September 1968. Photo by kind courtesy of Willie Oswald

Above : Caledonia in 1969 - courtesy of the Jake Dale collection

Above : Caledonia at the Royal Navy Fleet Review in 1965. Photo by Ian Stewart

Above : Caledonia seen from Waverley in 1968. Photo by Ian Stewart :  click here for more

Above : Caledonia at Fairlie (this photo)  and Brodick in 1969. Photos by Ian Stewart :  Click here for more

Above : Caledonia at Campbeltown. Photo by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte

Above : Caledonia by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte

Above : Caledonia in a view taken by David Owler, (courtesy of Glenda Owler)

Above : Caledonia leaving Gourock in 1969 by kind courtesy of Kenneth Chalmers

Above : Two views of Caledonia in the mid 1950s by Jimmy Reid (courtesy of Ronnie McLeod)

Above : Caledonia as she appeared in her final years. Photo taken at Rothesay by Alexander Bain (supplied by kind courtesy of Donald Bain)

Caledonia Nigel Lawrence.jpg

Above : Not long to go ................... Caledonia on 3rd September in her final season, 1969, in a photo kindly supplied by Nigel Lawrence
At the beginning of October, Caledonia made a few runs to Tarbet with the mails, a service which the CSP took over from MacBraynes on October 1st. These were the last runs she made for the CSP before being sold for scrapping - whilst local enthusiasts and, to be fair, her new owners deserately sought a buyer who would find a new use for the old ship.

Goodbye Caledonia.jpg
Brodick 1969 : The webmaster, having disembarked from PS Caledonia, watches the paddler steam out of Brodick Bay after what looked to be and turned out to be the last trip aboard as the favourite paddler was withdrawn at the end of the season.

Above : Now renamed Old Caledonia by Arnott, Young scrap merchants at Dalmuir, Caledonia was prepared for her sale to Bass-Charrington the brewing and pub company 
Members of the Scottish Branch of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society had been instrumental in pursuading the demolition company to wait in case a buyer could be found
Photo by kind courtesy of Robert McLuckie

Caledonia in London


Above : Photos taken in 1973 and 1974 by Gordon Stewart : Click on photo to expand

Caledonia 1977 K Hoggett.jpg

Above: Caledonia in 1977 : Photo by kind courtesy of Kevin Hoggett

Caledonia in preservation : Robert McLuckie took a tour of the ship

Click here to have a detailed look around the decks of Caledonia whilst berthed in London : Photos by kind courtesy of Robert McLuckie

Above : After the fire, Old Caledonia was towed for scrapping at Sittingbourne. Photo by kind courtesy of Robert McLuckie

Above : At Sittingbourne. Photo by kind courtesy of Robert McLuckie

Above : A burned-out Old Caledonia in October 1980 awaiting demolition at Sittingbourne, Kent. Photo by kind courtesy of  John Hendy

Only the engines remain .......

Above : Engine room in 1967. Photo by kind courtesy of David Perry

caledonia engine.jpg

Caledonia's engines were saved and exhibited at the Hollycombe Steam Collection at Liphook, Hampshire
Photo by kind courtesy of Robert McLuckie

Click here to see more of Caledonia's engine at Liphook

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Clyde Steamers of the 1930s
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